I got an email message from Kenneth, the guy behind InvestorBlogger.com, informing me that Beyond the Rhetoric now carries a Google PageRank of zero. That can’t be good.

Not that long ago, BTR was a PR5, but then Google went around bitch-slapping anyone who sold paid links. For a while, they assigned a PR2 to this site, but I’ve been further reduced to a PR0. Given the rationale behind Google’s latest efforts, I can almost understand why Beyond the Rhetoric would have its PageRank reduced. I do paid reviews here and I sell paid links in the sidebar. However, that’s not where the smackdown ends.

You’ll notice that Beyond the Rhetoric is located at btr.michaelkwan.com. If you to go beyondtherhetoric.com, it redirects you here. In some ways, Beyond the Rhetoric is separate from my freelance writing business, which you can find at michaelkwan.com (I should really redesign that site). There are no paid links on michaelkwan.com. There are no paid reviews or any other form of sponsorship. Up until the most recent PR update, it was still holding steady in the PR4 to PR5 range. When I went to check the PageRank a couple days ago using this tool, I got the following:


How is it that a site with no paid links and no reduction in incoming links gets its PR lowered so drastically? I don’t understand Google PageRank anymore. The only explanation that I can come up with is that the entire domain has been given a swift kick in the rear end, which kind of defeats part of the point of PageRank in the first place. I thought each page was ranked semi-independently and even if they weren’t, you would think that sub-domains would get ranked independently. After all, if PR is assigned to a domain as a whole, treating all subdomains equally, then all Blogspot/Blogger blogs would have the same PR. This obviously isn’t the case.

What’s even more strange is that Ed Lau‘s blog is still a PR4, despite selling paid links like the rest of us. Could it be that I do too much internal linking? Too many paid reviews? If it were the latter, you would think that John Chow would get a rather massive smackdown too and he’s only dropped to a PR4, despite being quasi-banned from Google’s index.

Am I concerned? Not particularly, but it is certainly disconcerting to see such a huge change in how PageRank is handled. I cannot release the specific details (there was a confidentiality statement/agreement), but Text Link Ads sent me an email too. It didn’t address PageRank directly, but you can tell that they are implementing measures and making recommendations to help work around the recent changes at Google. Is PR dead or do we just have to think about it in a completely different way? Whatever the case, I don’t understand anymore.