In an interesting video from Google Webmaster Central today, Matt Cutts clears up the matter of how Google deals with PageRank from websites that have gone out of business.
In reply to the question: “Does Google remove the PageRank coming from links on pages that no longer exist?”, with reference to Geocities closure, Cutts says:
The short answer is yes…if there’s no Geocities page live on the web any more, then the odds of a person coming from a Geocities page is zero and PageRank is a model of how a random surfer would go around on the web following links, so if a page disappears, you don’t want to just keep flowing PageRank from that page forever
He goes onto say that Google tends to use the current link graph rather than a link graph from all of time, to prevent PageRank from becoming stale. This isn’t overly surprising – it’s reasonable to assume that link juice should only flow based on the ‘current’ situation, but it’s good to have clarification.
So the conclusions to draw from this are as follows:
- When building backward links from other websites, concentrate on long term links that won’t be removed. Links within or following articles on authority websites are particularly good. Consider article campaigns.
- When purchasing sponsored links designed to build SEO ranking (stationary links on websites as opposed to PPC), bear in mind these will only be effective for the duration that you pay for. Once they’re removed, you lose any juice you once gained.
- Part of the reason for this is presumably to combat black hat SEO tactics, such as temporary links gained from hacking & spam. All the more reason to follow an ethical, white hat approach.