Google PageRank Directory Clanger by Andy Beard informs us that Google recently pushed out an update to the Google Directory on the 8th of January. What that means is that Google pulled the most recent ODP RDF dump file and updated the Google Directory with that file. But more importantly, Andy also notes that the little PageRank scores found on the left side of each listing in the Google directly have also been updated — and may be showing the “unpenalized” PR scores for sites.
What does this tell us? Well, like Andy and I noted over here, it appears that the data for that PageRank does not match up even remotely for the sites that saw their PageRank drop due to selling links. Andy highlights three examples of sites that match these criteria.
If you look at the Google Directory PageRank scores for those sites, you will notice that for those examples, Google Directory scores are much higher than those shown on the Google Toolbar.
Yes, the Google Toolbar and the Google Directory have different methods of displaying PageRank scores. Yes, Google’s Toolbar is not an exact, nor recent value of the true Google PageRank score for a particular page (true meaning the score Google uses internally as part of its ranking algorithm). Yes, it is possible that the Google Directory is using either a more recent or a version that is much older than what the toolbar is showing. But honestly, there is no way for us to know the dates of those PageRank scores in the Google Directory.
Even with all these questions, it has people thinking that the Google Toolbar penalty for selling links is just a visible one displayed only on the Google Toolbar and is not used internally by Google. In fact, this was my original theory when Google went ahead and penalized sites for selling links.
There is good discussion on this at Sphinn.