Google Page Rank Fallout – Possible Legal Action?

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I’m so happy that Andy B sent me a digg shout (I take it back – I don’t hate them!) with the shocking news about the latest Google PageRank update, as I would have missed it totally as I’ve been working so hard this week I haven’t read any feeds.

Andy’s latest post (again read via a Digg shout as no time for feeds) collating the more humorous response’s to Google’s PageRank , made me chuckle but it also gave me five mins to try and think about the implications of the move.

From what I can tell, most bloggers seem to be focussing on the impact of reduction in PageRank on SERPS, and it looks like in the majority of cases so far that SERPS haven’t been reduced, just Page Ranks. But, nobody seems to thinking about the impact on Google’s competition. I’m sure there have been hundreds, if not thousands of bloggers for instance who have panicked and removed links sold by Text Link Ads, Linkworth, TNX etc. This will surely have a big impact on Text Link Ads performance in the future, and may even put their whole business model at risk.

The definition of an anti-competitive practices are ‘business or government practices that prevent and/or reduce competition in a market‘ and include:

  1. Exclusive dealing, where a retailer or wholesaler is ‘tied’ to purchase from a supplier.
  2. Barriers to entry (to an industry) designed to avoid the competition that new entrants would bring
  3. Coercive monopoly – all potential competition is barred from entering the market

Surely companies like Text Link Ads could make a case that through Google’s market dominance of the search engine market, there are creating barriers to entry for other companies in the advertising market? I wonder if any of them are currently seeking legal advice? I most certainly would be if I worked there, even if the answer might be that no case could be made.

Nevertheless, I still think that Google will end up paying long-term for flexing its muscles in this manner. I once worked for a company in the UK in a business development role that had similar market dominance in an unregulated market, and I will always remember some early guidance that my boss gave me. He explained that because of our market power we basically could do whatever we wanted in the market, and force other companies that were trying to enter the market to work to our terms. Hence we had a duty to treat all companies fairly and equally so that we would never get a bad ‘big brother’ reputation and so that if we ever did lose our #1 position in the future, people would still want to work with us.

I’ve always tried to take this approach at work, and whether I get a cold call from a 2 man operation or someone from Google, Yahoo, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Universal Music, eBay etc I try to always initially treat them exactly the same and play fair.

I think people will always remember the decisions Google made this week, and I wonder if one day it will come back to haunt them.

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317 Responses to Google Page Rank Fallout – Possible Legal Action?

  1. Brown Baron October 26, 2007 at 5:35 pm #

    I think that they just burned a lot of bridges with this move. Of course they’re not worried now – they’re still on top. The backlash when it does come will be nasty.

  2. Brown Baron October 26, 2007 at 6:35 pm #

    I think that they just burned a lot of bridges with this move. Of course they’re not worried now – they’re still on top. The backlash when it does come will be nasty.

  3. Mike October 26, 2007 at 7:07 pm #

    The fact that the news coverage went mainstream won’t have pleased Big G shareholders, I wouldn’t have thought. I think Google underestimated just how much flak would come their way as a result of these changes. I’d not considered the legal avenue before but you’re right. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone takes them on, though.

  4. Mike October 26, 2007 at 8:07 pm #

    The fact that the news coverage went mainstream won’t have pleased Big G shareholders, I wouldn’t have thought. I think Google underestimated just how much flak would come their way as a result of these changes. I’d not considered the legal avenue before but you’re right. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone takes them on, though.

  5. John October 26, 2007 at 7:09 pm #

    Google got where it is because webmasters promoted it over and above Lycos, Altavista, Infoseek and all the other first generation search engines.

    It’s just as possible for webmasters to fall out of love with Google and to promote a new favourite…

    We just need a new favourite to appear on the scene…

  6. John October 26, 2007 at 8:09 pm #

    Google got where it is because webmasters promoted it over and above Lycos, Altavista, Infoseek and all the other first generation search engines.

    It’s just as possible for webmasters to fall out of love with Google and to promote a new favourite…

    We just need a new favourite to appear on the scene…

  7. Everton October 26, 2007 at 7:34 pm #

    As a blogger I’d already fallen out of love with adsense, as I hated been tied to one scheme and I’ve successfully addressed that.

    If I had a way to lessen my reliance on Google for search traffic I would do the same.

  8. Avatar of Everton
    Everton October 26, 2007 at 8:34 pm #

    As a blogger I’d already fallen out of love with adsense, as I hated been tied to one scheme and I’ve successfully addressed that.

    If I had a way to lessen my reliance on Google for search traffic I would do the same.

  9. Sofna October 26, 2007 at 7:44 pm #

    Does anyone have a link to the actual article on this new google update?

  10. Sofna October 26, 2007 at 8:44 pm #

    Does anyone have a link to the actual article on this new google update?

  11. Sofna October 26, 2007 at 7:45 pm #

    Oops, forgot to mention I just read a post on DP where a few webmasters have confirmed changes in PR at 2 datacenters and I believe they were increases and not a decrease due selling links.

  12. Sofna October 26, 2007 at 8:45 pm #

    Oops, forgot to mention I just read a post on DP where a few webmasters have confirmed changes in PR at 2 datacenters and I believe they were increases and not a decrease due selling links.

  13. keikun17 October 27, 2007 at 6:19 am #

    my 1 year old forum’s PR went down to 2 from 3. my one month old blog’s PR went from 0 to 4 so it’s a mixed reaction for me.

  14. keikun17 October 27, 2007 at 7:19 am #

    my 1 year old forum’s PR went down to 2 from 3. my one month old blog’s PR went from 0 to 4 so it’s a mixed reaction for me.

  15. Kylyne October 27, 2007 at 11:00 am #

    same question that has been creping into my mind lately, since, from the looks of it all of their action is creating a domino effect. Oh well, for a new blogger like me, I guess i need to re-think all this for a while.

  16. Kylyne October 27, 2007 at 12:00 pm #

    same question that has been creping into my mind lately, since, from the looks of it all of their action is creating a domino effect. Oh well, for a new blogger like me, I guess i need to re-think all this for a while.

  17. Mikhail Tuknov October 27, 2007 at 5:30 pm #

    I wouldn’t worry about it guys! Just continue doing what you have been doing in the past! Google is trying to scare you all! They need us!

  18. Mikhail Tuknov October 27, 2007 at 6:30 pm #

    I wouldn’t worry about it guys! Just continue doing what you have been doing in the past! Google is trying to scare you all! They need us!

  19. Karthik October 28, 2007 at 8:59 am #

    Everton, I’m saddened to see you lose PR – do you have any intentions of removing the links when you change to the new theme and submit a re-inclusion request? That’s what I would do – because at the end of the day, we still do need the traffic that G sends us.

    Hope you get over this soon!

  20. Karthik October 28, 2007 at 9:59 am #

    Everton, I’m saddened to see you lose PR – do you have any intentions of removing the links when you change to the new theme and submit a re-inclusion request? That’s what I would do – because at the end of the day, we still do need the traffic that G sends us.

    Hope you get over this soon!

  21. Everton October 28, 2007 at 11:20 am #

    @karthik

    It’s still early days as I don’t think Google’s ‘madness’ is over yet, but my search engine results haven’t been impacted – just my PageRank i.e. Google is penalising the PageRank of sites it thinks has been using that arbitary number to sell adverting or to pass rank on. whatever they really use to rank pages hasn’t been affected.

    I intend to do nothing for now. If I lose some advertising then so be it, but I think I’ll be ok as I’m getting to the point where most advertisers are buying traffic not rank.

  22. Avatar of Everton
    Everton October 28, 2007 at 12:20 pm #

    @karthik

    It’s still early days as I don’t think Google’s ‘madness’ is over yet, but my search engine results haven’t been impacted – just my PageRank i.e. Google is penalising the PageRank of sites it thinks has been using that arbitary number to sell adverting or to pass rank on. whatever they really use to rank pages hasn’t been affected.

    I intend to do nothing for now. If I lose some advertising then so be it, but I think I’ll be ok as I’m getting to the point where most advertisers are buying traffic not rank.

  23. Karthik October 28, 2007 at 11:48 am #

    @Everton
    phpBB.com was hit by the penalty too – they were one of the worst hit – they dropped from PR10 to PR8 a couple of weeks back. Just a while later, they were brought down to a PR5. I would think next in line would be that the penalized sites *may* be removed from the SERPs although its a very delicate matter. But at the end of the day, its a private search engine and they can do as they please – whether we use them or not, we can’t blame them for running things the way they want.

    I truly respect the fact that you don’t want to bow down, nor that you need the traffic that Google sends to a high degree – but I would still request you to make the links nofollow – if as you say the advertisers are paying for the traffic, they wouldn’t mind that the links are nofollow’d would they? Plus, you would have a better leverage in the advertisement pricing if your PR is higher, although you set the links as nofollow. Not to mention the “authority” status that comes along with it and the edge in the SERPs placement.

    But its purely a personal choice, whichever decision you make – I’ll continue to visit this blog, no matter what your PR is.

  24. Karthik October 28, 2007 at 12:48 pm #

    @Everton
    phpBB.com was hit by the penalty too – they were one of the worst hit – they dropped from PR10 to PR8 a couple of weeks back. Just a while later, they were brought down to a PR5. I would think next in line would be that the penalized sites *may* be removed from the SERPs although its a very delicate matter. But at the end of the day, its a private search engine and they can do as they please – whether we use them or not, we can’t blame them for running things the way they want.

    I truly respect the fact that you don’t want to bow down, nor that you need the traffic that Google sends to a high degree – but I would still request you to make the links nofollow – if as you say the advertisers are paying for the traffic, they wouldn’t mind that the links are nofollow’d would they? Plus, you would have a better leverage in the advertisement pricing if your PR is higher, although you set the links as nofollow. Not to mention the “authority” status that comes along with it and the edge in the SERPs placement.

    But its purely a personal choice, whichever decision you make – I’ll continue to visit this blog, no matter what your PR is.

  25. Everton October 28, 2007 at 11:51 am #

    Agree about the future Karthik I might consider making future ads nofollow. But I don’t intend to make any changes to existing advertisers, even though thinking about it, none of them that have approached me directly have ever specifically requested a follow link so I can go and change them….now you’ve got me thinking

  26. Avatar of Everton
    Everton October 28, 2007 at 12:51 pm #

    Agree about the future Karthik I might consider making future ads nofollow. But I don’t intend to make any changes to existing advertisers, even though thinking about it, none of them that have approached me directly have ever specifically requested a follow link so I can go and change them….now you’ve got me thinking

  27. Karthik October 28, 2007 at 12:00 pm #

    I’m glad I did! :) [Hope none of them are reading these comments! ;) ]

    But do let them know you’re changing them to nofollow, if you don’t mind me telling you – offer them a compensation package if they are disappointed that you are nofollowing the links, perhaps a partial refund or an extended contract period – whatever. Of course its your discretion as to that – I just wanted to fill you in on the possible options…

    I’m sure it would keep everyone happy, of course it would mean a partial slack in your profits, but I’m sure its going to be well worth it. Wish you the best of luck!

  28. Karthik October 28, 2007 at 1:00 pm #

    I’m glad I did! :) [Hope none of them are reading these comments! ;) ]

    But do let them know you’re changing them to nofollow, if you don’t mind me telling you – offer them a compensation package if they are disappointed that you are nofollowing the links, perhaps a partial refund or an extended contract period – whatever. Of course its your discretion as to that – I just wanted to fill you in on the possible options…

    I’m sure it would keep everyone happy, of course it would mean a partial slack in your profits, but I’m sure its going to be well worth it. Wish you the best of luck!

  29. Everton October 28, 2007 at 12:04 pm #

    I’ve just changed a few of the ads to nofollow. I don’t intend to remove TLA or Linkworth though. I will decide to do that when they are no longer delivering – at the moment they accout for about 25% of my non-direct advertising revenues so that would be a very big hit to take. Now, if my TLA advertisers start to leave becuase my rank has fallen then that will be a different matter

  30. Avatar of Everton
    Everton October 28, 2007 at 1:04 pm #

    I’ve just changed a few of the ads to nofollow. I don’t intend to remove TLA or Linkworth though. I will decide to do that when they are no longer delivering – at the moment they accout for about 25% of my non-direct advertising revenues so that would be a very big hit to take. Now, if my TLA advertisers start to leave becuase my rank has fallen then that will be a different matter

  31. Karthik October 28, 2007 at 12:22 pm #

    Great – good to know you’re taking counter-measures, erm, just to clarify – I don’t work for Google!


    Yet another proud reader of ConnectedInternet.co.uk

  32. Karthik October 28, 2007 at 1:22 pm #

    Great – good to know you’re taking counter-measures, erm, just to clarify – I don’t work for Google!


    Yet another proud reader of ConnectedInternet.co.uk

  33. Ganesh November 1, 2007 at 5:12 pm #

    I neither sell links nor buy links. But the pr of my site starmatrimonials.com has dropped to 3 from 5 during the last two updates. But the traffic to the site is steadily increasing.

  34. Ganesh November 1, 2007 at 6:12 pm #

    I neither sell links nor buy links. But the pr of my site starmatrimonials.com has dropped to 3 from 5 during the last two updates. But the traffic to the site is steadily increasing.

  35. Forrest November 16, 2007 at 10:18 pm #

    The search market and the advertising market are two different industries. Kodak does fairly well in the film market, but that has zero effect on Starbucks’ position in the coffee market … right?

    Text link “ads” were selling page rank and not legitimate advertising. Essentially changing other peoples’ grades for a fee. Google’s own ad sales use javascript in the client to prevent any seo benefit; they’re simply asking other web sites to do the same in exchange for free inclusion in the index and the free traffic that brings.

    Honestly, I don’t see anything unreasonable, let alone anti-competitive. Sorry to disagree; that’s just how I see it.

  36. Forrest November 16, 2007 at 10:18 pm #

    The search market and the advertising market are two different industries. Kodak does fairly well in the film market, but that has zero effect on Starbucks’ position in the coffee market … right?

    Text link “ads” were selling page rank and not legitimate advertising. Essentially changing other peoples’ grades for a fee. Google’s own ad sales use javascript in the client to prevent any seo benefit; they’re simply asking other web sites to do the same in exchange for free inclusion in the index and the free traffic that brings.

    Honestly, I don’t see anything unreasonable, let alone anti-competitive. Sorry to disagree; that’s just how I see it.

  37. alluniversit February 22, 2008 at 3:02 am #

    then eventually the tree, were punished I know every I went

  38. alluniversit February 22, 2008 at 3:02 am #

    then eventually the tree, were punished I know every I went