Within the online community, there is a debate over whether Google is adjusting the algorithm in the update, which has slashed top-tier sites' page rankings.
Despite speculation that the changes are related to text-link ads, there currently is no evidence to support that claim, and many text-link sites have not had their page rankings changed. Nevertheless, about a dozen previously highly ranked sites lost ground in Google's page-ranking system after the update.
"Many people feel that this was a [manual adjustment], and others feel that it was algorithmic," 3ob.com President Jeff Random told AVN Online. "However, most seem to think that this is related to sites or networks that were selling links."
Google's page rankings calculate a website's prominence and, by extension, perceived value.
"Page rank can affect the perceived value of a link from a site," Random said. "For sites that rely heavily on link trades or sales, it could be important. However, for most sites, though the page rank is more cosmetic, it's mainly the performance in the [search-engine results pages] that matters.
"Whether page rank is changing and becoming more of a quality score or not, [or] this is a move by Google to devalue link sales in favor of relevancy, or some other evolution, it's the quality and quantity of traffic that matters, not the green bar."
Google has announced that it would punish sites that sell links, but not all sites that fall under that category sell links: Some belong to blog networks, which share traffic throughout several sites. Though Google traditionally has rewarded this type of behavior with higher page ranks, the loophole appears to be closing.
Google has not made a formal announcement about the page-rank algorithm.