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Page Rank Goes to ZERO
What causes it?
Ouroboros




msg:716221
 6:52 am on Oct 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

My website, or rather a page or two which I occassionally check (as a general rule, I don't enable the Page Rank feature of my Google toolbar), usually carries a page rank of about 4-6. On October 15th, my traffic dropped to less than 10% of normal, so I checked its page rank. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Bizarre.

This is a site that has existed for years. I gave up on any kind of optimization for it years ago, and even went back and removed any optimization that I'd tried in the past (including the removal of links from other sites that I'd controlled). Instead, I've accepted a defeatist attitude toward Google, and decided to just make my site whatever I wanted it to be, and if Google liked it, then Google liked it. If not, then so be it. Whatever is there is for real people to see, not for Google. That was probably 3 years ago.

And here's what's really weird. Google finds absolutely no links to my site whatsoever. And when I check sites that have linked to my site for years, good high ranking sites, I find that my links are still there.

What on Earth?

Anyone?

I've really got two questions here: 1) WHAT happened? and 2) Why?

 

stinkfoot




msg:716222
 2:09 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

This is a form of penalty that google hands out.
There are many many reasons why the most likely is that it has noticed a hail of backlinks suddenly coming in and thus penalized you for it.

I have a similar thing thats happened to a site of mine that a network put links up for without my approval (about 60 links) and then took them down without me reciprocating.

Unfortunatly the myth that people pointing to your site cant harm you is here shown up to be very much that, a myth.

Ouroboros




msg:716223
 2:28 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well that's just great.

How long does the penalty last? Do the links have to go away?

Yippee




msg:716224
 3:11 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Speaking of which, pre 9/22 all of the sudden we started getting a hail of referrals from viagra and casino sites. When I went to check out where the links were, they were nowhere to be found. I assumed the pages revealed the links on the bots only. So, I said whatever to myself and wasn't too bothered by it. Personally, I didn't care about the PR coming from there simply because I was sure there wasn't any. Crap sites, but what can you do to prevent someone from linking to you.

So, come 9/22 we all saw the web move out from under our feet. In the back of my mind, I wonder if spam sites linking to us had something to do with it. Regardless, I thought google was strong enough "technologically" to have a measure for that. But a penalty?!?! I can see them not counting the links for a good while and that's fair, but to penalize sites that quickly raked in a bunch of links is a serious flaw in their algo considering we have no control on who links to what website. Anyway, as of recent I started reporting these sites as spam abuse to Google, and they seem to disappear the next day. That's not to say others are not linking because it keeps happening non-stop. Whether Google is actually taking immediate action against them or not is hard to tell considering their spam sites are slick with switching and swapping links.

I am soooooooo Google'd out. My nerves are shot, my head is racked, and quite honestly, I am real tired of them. They have become the biggest empire on the web and want to prophesize the "don't depend on us for revenue philosophy". How can you build such a framework and not expect to have businesses crop-up around it? It's capitalism and that is not about to change. I think there needs to be some serious intervention in the way of regulation because this is putting a lot of good honest to god working sites out of business. If google does not come back STRONG in favor of the good sites that have been thrown behind the sun, I will boycott and make my site work at all cost in other places. I am tired of asking for mercy for something I did not do that Google considers wrong... Enough is enough!

Stefan




msg:716225
 3:47 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

we started getting a hail of referrals from viagra and casino sites. When I went to check out where the links were, they were nowhere to be found. I assumed the pages revealed the links on the bots only.

Any chance that it was just logspam? I know we get a hell of a lot of it on a daily basis.

stinkfoot




msg:716226
 3:49 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am afraid I dont know mate .. other thing is dont take it for granted this IS the case for you. There are many reasons for getting PR penalties.

I am still waiting for mine to go it has been there for about 2 week now I think.

The word unfair springs to mind for some reason :¦

stuartc1




msg:716227
 3:58 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Happened to a couple of my sites over the past few months - it really sucks. Emailed google about it with no response as yet.

Good luck to you guys, hope you get on better than I did.

Lorel




msg:716228
 4:17 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

It could be another problem other than bad links coming into your site. However first check every outgoing link on your site to make sure the domain hasn't been bought out by a "Bad neighboorhood" .

then check the following:

Do you have a lot of supplemental results after your listing (search Google for site:yourdomain.com)? If you do and it's a majority of SR then your whole site can get penalized.

Are you on shared hosting? IF so check #*$! for your domain and see if it's been blacklisted by another site spreading spam. If so I would move to a dedicated IP ASAP. This should only cost $1.00 more per month. If your host charges a lot more then time to find a better host.

Has your site been hijacked? There are many methods of doing this including 302 redirects, IP delivery, Meta Refreshes, etc. --Google it for more info.

Also see if your site validates and also the css.

Then write Google
[google.com...]
to see if your site has been banned. They usually write back within a few days--it may be a canned letter saying your site hasn't been banned and their index fluctuates but "I assume" if it was banned they would say so--I always get the former response.

crankin




msg:716229
 4:49 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

My site disappeared from the index altogether, whitebar not grey. Good clean solid site up for years. Handmade links, no funny anything.

A week ago *poof* gone from the index. no site:URL, no links:URL but still I have a whitebar PR-0.

I wrote Google, no answer. I requested reinclusion, no answer. Zero traffic from G other than my Adwords (which are doing pretty darned good now, what's that about).

I wish I could get ANYTHING back from G just so I would know if I need to sit tight, fix something, or start over...

I do get link requests from casinos and crap linkfarm places all the time, but I just ignore that junk. How can I be punished for something some carpetbagger out on the net is doing? That makes no sense, it's like throwing me in jail because someone signed me up as a member of their illegal club without my consent. If that's all it takes to get banned from the index, heck, I'll sign up all my competitors to every linkfarm and casino site I can find! ;)

Yippee




msg:716230
 5:15 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

LOL, you got a point crankin! Sign away! We haven't lost our PR yet, but in a weird morbid way I wish we would already and get it over with. There is no explanation for any of these disappearances other than something good HAS to come out of it. Otherwise, like I said Imma boycottin somebody. My loss or not, I will sleep better and with dignity.

This is way too much distress and anguish, and NONE of us on here can deny it. Fellow webmasters on here are watching DCs almost on a machine by machine basis... I think I'm gonna get drunk tonight and go to the shooting range. Tonight's theme is computer hardware :)

stinkfoot




msg:716231
 8:05 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

>I wrote Google, no answer. I requested reinclusion, no answer. Zero traffic from G other than my Adwords (which are doing pretty darned good now, what's that about).

Pay more! Its must be the only way!

Ouroboros




msg:716232
 8:34 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm so lost on one of these responses:

It could be another problem other than bad links coming into your site. However first check every outgoing link on your site to make sure the domain hasn't been bought out by a "Bad neighboorhood" .

You're saying that if some link, at some time, on my website (which includes a significantly large message board), links to someplace that Google considers to be a "bad neighborhood", then Google may penalize my site? Checking such a thing just isn't feasable.

Do you have a lot of supplemental results after your listing (search Google for site:yourdomain.com)? If you do and it's a majority of SR then your whole site can get penalized.

I'm not sure what "Supplemental Results" means. It seems to me that it refers to those pages which are very similar to one another. Those don't exist on my website.

Nevertheless, I can't actually check, because my site is no longer in Google.

Are you on shared hosting?

Yes.
IF so check #*$! for your domain and see if it's been blacklisted by another site spreading spam.

How does one "check #*$!"? I don't know what that means.

Also see if your site validates and also the css.

My site definitely doesn't validate as anything. I wrote the site as a project while I was learning perl. It's attrocious. Other than new message board threads, it's remained virtually unchanged for nearly 1/2 a decade.

Then write Google [google.com...]
to see if your site has been banned. They usually write back within a few days--it may be a canned letter saying your site hasn't been banned and their index fluctuates but "I assume" if it was banned they would say so--I always get the former response.

I may do that. However, have you ever written about a site that has disappeared from their database entirely? We're talking hundreds of pages which used to show up, the main pages of which tended to have PR4, and now nothing in the site appears in any kind of search, at all.

Ouroboros




msg:716233
 8:54 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

For the record, though, I don't have any animosity toward Google.

If Google ever sends you a hit, ever, even once, they've given you something for free. It's not fair; it's charity. You're sort of like a welfare recipient from a private enterprise. When your welfare runs out, you shouldn't be complaining or saying "it's not fair". Hell, you've been getting something for free the whole time. Send them a Thank You note, and maybe a basket of fruit.

Google does not owe webmasters anything. Google's mission is up to Google, and they can morally and ethically change it on a day to day basis. It's theirs; they can do with it whatever they want. However, it seems to me that they've maintained one very clear message since the beginning: to provide the best possible results for people who use their search engines for research. And they make changes regularly with the intent to best serve that purpose. How well they serve that purpose is measured by how many people choose to use Google for their searches.

Google tells webmasters what some of the things are which they don't like and may cause sites to be excluded from the list. It's like me with women: I am turned off by bad teeth. Thus women with bad teeth will probably be excluded from a dating opportunity with me. But having great teeth doesn't necessarily mean that a woman is going to get on my dating list. In fact, I've never made any promises to the world's women about what they can do to absolutely, positively, be chosen for dating. They may be completely absent of any flaws which I've ever listed in my lifetime, and still not be chosen. It's not unfair to them at all. I don't owe them anything. And that's what Google owes us.

"I shun father and mother and wife and brother when my genius calls me. I would write on the lintels of the door-post, Whim. I hope it is somewhat better than whim at last, but we cannot spend the day in explanation. Expect me not to show cause why I seek or why I exclude company."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

nicheguy




msg:716234
 11:55 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Same here. Several uniques Databases, 60 plus unique tools for our industry and poof.

From 7 to zero.

I actually didnt know we were a 7 as we had never bothered with optimizing pages nor tracking google.

Someone told me, we were a 7 showing over 15,000 pages linked to us.

The lastest shows nearly 17,000 incoming links on Google, (18,800 in Yahoo) and still zero with Google.

Not one listing of our URL.

We've been serving a niche industry since 1999.

Now if you search on our name, you get a bunch of scrapper sites trying to capitalize on our name and services. Google raised the minimum bid on our site name from .05 to 40 cents and some related as high as $4

Google use to be a good research site.

Out of the top twenty results, 8 of them are scrapper sites selling more google ads.

I'm sure we violate some of their policy in some of the 800 hand made pages and 2000 data generated pages.

But we didn't build our site for google, we built it for real people that need us. The kind of site google CLAIMS they list.

The motive I presume.

Now, if Google did not claim to rate sites based on democratic voiting, I could care less. But I hate liers, cheap tricks and fraud. I'm sure what they are doing fits one of the above.

You are welcome to guess which ones.

I cut our google budget in half and am spending it elsewhere until they remove the false statements about how they list sites in their search engine or two, actually do it the way they are claiming.

crankin




msg:716235
 12:05 am on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

nicheguy, are you saying you are no longer in the listings at all (nothing comes up for site:yourdomain.com), and you have a PR-0 whitebar?

Looks like this is getting to be quite a growing little club...

joeduck




msg:716236
 12:21 am on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Ouro -

Have other sites copied your content? Take some unique snips of your stuff and paste into Google search to see if others have your stuff. if they do you may be suffering from what appears to be an increasing problem in Google - having trouble telling the original content from the copycats.

Joe

larryhatch




msg:716237
 12:28 am on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Ouroboros: I can't see your site but you can. Run down the list:

1) Duplicate content: Google for unique phrases as exact quotes. See any serious scraping?
Some people claim 'original content' because copied it from the genuine author.
2) Dirty Outgoing Links: Click on every link going out from your pages.
Make sure a formerly clean site you link to didn't get taken over by the bad guys.
3) On-page Factors: Look real hard. Will everything pass the 'stink test'?
It took 150+ posts on another thread before somebody discovered that he had
60 words of blatant KW stuffing inside his <H1> tag!, that shifted to bottom of page,
and/or right off the page depending. GoogleGuy had to point that out (amazing!)
4) Hidden text. Doesn't have to be white on white, just colors that are sufficiently invisible.
5) Add your own. All sorts of 'crime and punishment' are discussed in these forums.

I'm not casting asparagus here. You could be the victim of somebody else.
Real or perceived, blackhat stuff and scraping are probably the biggest causes of penalties.

- Larry

crankin




msg:716238
 12:40 am on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hrmmmm, that might be a common thread...

If I search for "snippet of text that is unique to my site", I find a bunch of listings from people I never heard of and I don't link to.

But, if you click on those listings, there's nothing there except stuff like 'this account has been suspended' placeholders or a redirect to my site or some pointless blather or an unrelated trash directory.

In other words, not "relevant" results for that snippet of text.

stinkfoot




msg:716239
 9:01 am on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

>If I search for "snippet of text that is unique to my site", I find a bunch of listings from people I never heard of and I don't link to

People rip you off. If you have a good site people rip your text off even more! This is one of the reasons advisors will tell you to keep your information up to date.

I am not saying change it all but if you find a sentance of yours on 1000 other pages ... it is best to rethink that sentance and re write. Unfortunatly www.copyscape.com will find it for you but there is no realistic way of doing anything about it.

Keep your info fresh and then the lazy nasty scrapers will have to keep up to date as well (which they dont)

Thus you are once again FREEEEE!

GL :)

Ouroboros




msg:716240
 9:55 am on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

I just used that copyscape site to check for...well, whatever it checks for.

Google itself "scrapes" a person's website when it spiders the site. What it scrapes then shows up on its results pages when people do a search, (usually) showing, in context, the key words which were searched for.

It is only in that sense that my site seems to have been copied. Snippets of text from my site has been used as descriptions in directories. That sort of thing.

So far my site still doesn't appear in Google. And I've received no response (other than the automated one) to my "Reinclusion Request" (though I'm not expecting one).

I have to wonder if the "Reinclusion Request" strategy is based upon a myth. That is, the myth that it does any good whatsoever. This is from the form that you use to submit a reinclusion request:

Keep in mind that we don't personally review individual sites, nor do we comment on webmaster techniques or the details of our search technology beyond what appears on our site.

Logically, there's only 3 things that they can do with reinclusion requests in the aggregate:

1) Always reinclude sites which are requested for reinclusion.

2) Never reinclude sites which are requested for reinclusion.

3) Sometimes reinclude sites which are requested for reinclusion.

Note: By "reinclude", I mean for a human being to do something specific for your site which circumvents or changes what Google's automated handling of your site would have been without the reinclusion request.

So which is it? If you think it's #3, then ask yourself how they make the decision of whether or not to reinclude your site without personally reviewing the site.

The websites which I've found which give examples of how to submit a reinclusion request all say to, before filing the request, search your site for violations against Google's guidelines, and then fix the problems. Well, if you've fixed the problems, maybe Google's algorithms would automatically reinclude your site without your request ever having taken place. If so, then your reinclusion request would be superfluous. And isn't that part of what Google is all about? Rendering behind the scenes human activity superfluous? Why would they pay employees to handle reinclusion requests when their algorithms can do it?

nicheguy




msg:716241
 10:44 pm on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yes crankin

If you do a search on our site URL there is no results. NONE.

Here is the google message:
" Sorry, no information is available for the URL our_site.com "

If you do a search on sites that have a link to our site, "link: our_site.com", you now get this:

"Results 1 - 10 of about 22,100 for link: our_site.com"

Substantial increased from last month without being in google at all.

Of the first 40 listings, all but 1 are high quality sites linking TO us. 1 appears to be a scrapper sites.

If you search for our name without the dot com, you get 50,000 pages. Half refer to us, half to a software that uses the name for one of their products.

About 15% appear to be scrapper sites with google ads selling similar services to ours. Nearly 6 of 20 pages selling competing services to ours. Now isnt that interesting.

Also, there are 2 adword ads from two major companies in our industry who have purchased our name through adwords.

We refuse to pay google for being displayed under our own name.

We intend to collect from Google for the commercial gain they are getting for selling our trade name.

Without us, that name word would be worthless in our industry as it has no meaning except for the goodwill we have created for it in the last 6 years.

In my opinion, Google has taken, without permission, part of our goodwill.

They are enjoying commercial gain without our permission and without compensating us for their gain.

We are talking with dozens of companies who have had their trade name pirated and now are no longer welcome at the party. (courtesy listings)

In my mind, it is totally unethical and maybe criminal.

My guess, it will eventually lead to google having to defend itself against thousands of businesses and class actions UNLESS they stop the false claims AND stop the unilateral profiting from others trade name property.

You can only hide wrong doing behind "secret formula" bullshet for so long. Google has used this "secret formula" excuse for a long time to keep people ire in check. People tend to get really angry when they are treated unfairly. Blaming it "on the computer" has worked for Google so far.

By the way. I was able to get my account "turned on" again for nearly 2 days by human intervention. (the impression I had was they were not suppose to do what they did.) Then it was turned off again.

I can not say more, but, it is my opinion our account was NOT turned off by the "secret formula", it was turned off by a human making a decision for more profits by capitalizing on our trade name.

One company will sooner or later, get "discovery" rights though legal action against Google.

I'm sure it will be interesting.

I want to reinforce my position, that IF Google did not make certain claims about listings being "democratic", I would have no critisim of not being listed. It is their company and their perogative without such claims.

Regardless, they do not have a right nor our permission to sell use of our trade name to the highest bidder.

nicheguy




msg:716242
 10:56 pm on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Oh yes. Any good site is copied often.

We average having to take action against more than one site a month for wholesale copying our work.

If good sites are penalized for having some of their copy stolen and reprinted, there would be ZERO results in Google for ANY search. (haa ha)

I'm convince in my mind, metrics are driving the changes. Purely economics more than quality issues.

Nothing wrong with that, . . .

UNLESS those economics are pirated from someone else and you are making claims that listings are "democratically" chosen by the "secret formula" counting quality links in.

Ouroboros




msg:716243
 1:09 am on Oct 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

This is interesting:

If you do a search on sites that have a link to our site, "link: our_site.com", you now get this:

"Results 1 - 10 of about 22,100 for link: our_site.com"

When I do that for my site, I get:

"Your search - link:www.my_site.com - did not match any documents. "

That's not true. My site is 5 years old and there are plenty.

How strange, though, that such different things happen to different sites.

nicheguy




msg:716244
 1:37 am on Oct 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hello Ouroboros

Try the same search again without the www.

Also, try to search key phrases for site you know have links to you.

I think our problems are different.

Our site has thousands of links which obviously Google knows about since they show up in a search for links.

If you know of high quality sites linking to you that are NOT in Google, then you should submit / suggest their site.

Ouroboros




msg:716245
 2:33 am on Oct 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

@nicheguy: It shows nothing associated with my site no matter what I do. Indirectly, links to my site can be found by searching for my domain name in quotes (i.e., "www.my_site.com"). It'll find several thousand sites which link to mine that way.

Mokita




msg:716246
 5:54 am on Oct 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Try searching for your site in Google with two colons in front

e.g. ::www.example.com or ::example.com

It brings a realistic result that link:example.com does not. I really don't understand why Google promote a heavily filtered tool that people know is either inaccurate or outright wrong.

And yes, I am reading this thread because a five year old, quality, clean site went from PR4 to "PR n/a" overnight about a month ago. Now clients can only find us in Google via Adwords and the number of orders has plummeted. :(

A polite request to Google produced a response that was more puzzling than helpful.

Ouroboros




msg:716247
 6:05 am on Oct 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Try searching for your site in Google with two colons in front e.g. ::www.example.com or ::example.com

That seems to be an identical search to that of enclosing the url within quotes (i.e., "www.example.com").

It brings a realistic result that link:example.com does not. I really don't understand why Google promote a heavily filtered tool that people know is either inaccurate or outright wrong.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that the "link:www.example.com" method only returns pages of a certain page rank or higher. Screening out the rest of them helps to keep people from figuring out precisely how linking affects placement, I guess.

And yes, I am reading this thread because a five year old, quality, clean site went from PR4 to "PR n/a" overnight about a month ago. Now clients can only find us in Google via Adwords and the number of orders has plummeted. :(

Welcome to the jungle. Do something to promote MSN search and Yahoo! search on your websites.

A polite request to Google produced a response that was more puzzling than helpful.

What was that response?

Mokita




msg:716248
 4:22 am on Oct 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

What was that response?

A fairly long email that really didn't properly address the concerns mentioned in our email. It's too long to quote here, plus I suspect it is also against the ToS.

But it did make much of everything being totally automated, and said "we can't make manual changes", which seems to be contradicted by the instructions in Matt's blog detailing how to go about a Reinclusion Request, which I assume is handled manually.

Basically the email cautioned patience and said that if it is a clean site (as per webmaster guidlines) it should come back after the latest crawl. Which it didn't and we are still none the wiser as to why it was ever dropped.

It has always been "clean" as per the Webmaster guidelines and apart from the canonical url problem (that I had never even heard about till I started researching our disappearance, and was fixed weeks ago) there seems to be nothing to be fixed.

We didn't like to use the Reinclusion Request route too soon after receiving the reply from Google, but it has been more than a month now, so I guess it is the only avenue left.

It scares me though, in case there is a problem I haven't been able to identify and we are banned for even longer for requesting reinclusion without fixing the original reason for the penalty.

JKMitchell




msg:716249
 2:15 pm on Oct 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

However, have you ever written about a site that has disappeared from their database entirely?

Yes, my main site disappeared completed off the face of Google.

It took plenty of reading on this forum, several emails to Google and about 2 months but it eventually came back.

My advice, check that you have not broken any "rules" even inadvertantly, and keep plugging away at reinclusion and asking for updates.

Good luck.

crankin




msg:716250
 2:21 am on Oct 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Update - our site, which was simply blown off the index altogether, has mysteriously reappeared.

Yes, we asked for reinclusion. No, there was no reply of any kind from Google.

No, we did not do any big changes, no we were not doing any bad things. Yes, our site has been copied and scraped. Yes, the thieves are still in the index.

We went down from PR6 to PR5, and our KW rankings are back to what they were a month ago.

Previously, nothing using site:mysite.com or link:mysite.com, but we could still be found using cache:mysite.com. Now, we are seen using site:mysite.com, but nothing using link:mysite.com.

Many supplementals showing up for every kind of search.

Weird stuff, Maynard.

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