Use the Confusion to Gain an Edge
Google today fired off the next round of FUD in their continuing campaign against paid links by significantly dropping the visible PageRank (PR) values for many prominent sites including Problogger and CopyBlogger. The search niche is buzzing with the news and it’s certain to spread into other areas of the blogosphere with both Darren and Brian both posting about their drop. Now, I’ve already explained How to Profit from Google’s War on Paid Links, but today I’d like to take that idea a bit further.
Often when big news like this breaks, people spend a lot of time reacting to it. They write about it, they try to figure out what the relationships are between the sites that got beat down, they worry about how they can avoid a similar fate. While there is nothing inherently wrong with any of those things, I think there is a much more productive way to respond. Think about what kind of changes these events will bring about in your industry. Rather than being stuck in reactive mode, use your knowledge and ingenuity to position yourself to be proactive. This applies to any topic, niche, or industry but let me use today’s events to illustrate my point.
I now own several sites with PageRank scores higher than A-list bloggers. Also, many services (like Text Link Ads, PayPerPost, and others) use Google PageRank in their price calculations. Do those two facts mean a link from one of my sites is more valuable than a link from Problogger? Unless Google has gone out of their mind absolutely not! So far there is no evidence that the PageRank drop has affected these sites’ rankings at all so obviously Google hasn’t downgraded their opinion of the sites. However, according to the way TLA and the other services calculate price, my links would be more expensive. So, what can you do with that information?
The first option is to now, more than ever, promote your site’s PageRank. For example, in your Text Link Ads listing you could put something to the effect of “Why waste money on sites being punished by Google? XYZ.com’s PR has remained steady” or even the more direct “Higher Google PageRank than Problogger!”. Basically, play up the fact that in the midst of a lot of sites losing PageRank, you remained steady and are thus much more valuable.
Another option would be to seize this opportunity as a consumer. If you find a popular site’s listing on a service that uses PageRank, there’s a good chance the price will or already has dropped in accordance to the PageRank. As any amateur stock trader knows, it’s always best to “buy low” and this would be no exception. While I think John Chow’s text link spots on his home page are sold out, this would be a great time to buy post level ads on his site. Pages that used to have a PR of 4 or 5 might be down to a 3 or lower and will subsequently be more affordable.
Also, I would spend some time thinking about what would happen if either Google got rid of visible PageRank scores all together or sites stopped using them as a measure of value. As the absurdity of the situation becomes obvious, the services that many bloggers use to make money are going to have to turn to other options. Obviously those services are still going to require some method of determining a link’s or a post’s value, so what other options are out there? ReviewMe currently has a three pronged approach using Technorati, Alexa, and RSS subscriptions. If PageRank were no longer an option, it isn’t all that hard to imagine other services switching over to a similar approach.
So, rather than spending a lot of time worrying about whether your PageRank will take a hit or not, or trying to figure out why Google did what they did, spend your time trying to figure out how to use this to your advantage. By focusing more and more on Technorati or Alexa rank when others are still trying to nurture their PageRank, you could have a significant edge, if or when PageRank is replaced or ditched all together. If you think Yahoo link count (currently used by SponsoredReviews) will be the next data point people will use to compare sites, focus on attracting more links quickly. If you think your subscriber count will have more emphasis placed on it, work on increasing the number of subscribers you have. The point is, the news today surrounding Google PageRank has a lot of people back on their heels. If you take the initiative and put yourself in a position of being proactive, you’ll very likely have an edge when the dust settles. Good luck!