A number of popular blogs and news sites have seen a sudden drop in their Google PageRank scores, with speculation suggesting that they are being punished by Google for paid linking.
The drops have hit blogs like Engadget and Search Engine Guide, as well as news sites including Forbes.com and the Washington Post.
Both Forbes and Engadget have dropped from a PageRank score of seven to five, while Search Engine Guide has dropped from seven to four and Washington Post from eight to five. SEOmoz has a list of the sites affected.
Andy Beard, whose own PageRank score has dropped from five to three, reported the news. He says that many of the sites were part of blog networks and that interlinking between them could have been the reason.
Google has been getting tough on the issue recently - two weeks ago, it punished a number of paid link directories, banishing them to the lower reaches of its results pages.
Google has not given any reason for the move so far, though Search Engine Guide speculates that it may be for PR reasons and that Google is making a statement to sites that are buying and selling links.