It's been buzzing around the techyblogosphere for a couple of days now.
After a crackdown a couple of weeks ago on PageRank 'selling' Google has decided to further penalize websites and blogs which use " text links sales, strong link exchange behaviour, link farming and excessive internal or intra-blog linking".
Some major sites have seen their pagerank drop by 3 and they're not happy about it. Indeed Robin Good's own MasterNewsMedia site now shares the same PageRank as my insignificant little site. (My PageRank has, of course, remained unaffected).
But Robin Good points out that these changes are not affecting traffic or search engine results and goes on to explain just what's happening:
To the detached eye, what emerges quite clearly, at least with the data in our hands now, is that Google is voluntarily devaluing PageRank for those very sites that have benefited or could benefit most from converting the perceived "authoritative" value provided by PageRank so as to make it practically useless.
What must also be strongly remarked is that it appears quite evident though that Google is not penalizing these sites inside its search engine result pages, but it is only lowering their assigned PageRank value...What this would appear to indicate is a clear strategy to fight not only sites selling paid text links but also strong link exchange behaviour, link farming and excessive internal or intra-blog linking.
By significantly lowering PageRank without affecting search engine result rankings, Google sends out a very clear message: "PageRank has only a very limited value, and you cannot use it to make more friends or money by handing out "favour" links or even by selling them on your site."
That's cheered me right up.