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Google's PageRank tweak to stop sites selling links

A week after an update to Google's visible PageRank system got all manner of commercial websites in a Web 2.0 flap, the search-engine giant has confirmed that the move was intended to stop sites flogging their web popularity for a quick cyber-buck.

Websites with high PageRanks can boost the rank of lesser sites by linking to them. Naturally this has created a tawdry market in such links being flogged for cold hard cash. Google is not impressed and neither should web searchers be.

But Google search guru Matt Cutts this week told Search Engine Journal that Google will take a firm hand with web publishers who sell their PageRank currency. And not in a good way.

"The partial update to visible PageRank that went out a few days ago was primarily regarding PageRank selling and the forward links of sites," said Cutts.

"Paid links that pass PageRank would affect our opinion of a site. Going forward, I expect that Google will be looking at additional sites that appear to be buying or selling PageRank."

So cash-rich but user-lonely sites can no longer boost the coffers of less commercial sites in order to boost their own Google rankings. Good for Google. I think.

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