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Homepage PageRank falls from 6 to 0 - rest of pages normal

 11:42 pm on Aug 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I just noticed that my homepage is showing a while pagerank 0.
It used to be a pagerank 6 and has many good quality websites linking to it.
I also notice that cache is not showing in Google for the homepage.
All other pages seem to be fine and are showing pagerank and the site still lists the same in Google for key searches.
I see no reason why i should be penalised as the site has had nothing changed in a while and is respectable hosting directory.

Should i be worried or is this somekind of error?

Any advice appreciated.


Robert Charlton

 3:46 am on Aug 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Lots of people have been seeing strange things happen with the Toolbar, and we've had several discussions over the past three or four months.

Should i be worried or is this somekind of error?

Assuming that you're continuing to rank, the PageRank display problem is most probably a Google reporting glitch, which shouldn't be a concern....

PR drops to Zero for some long established sites

Note in particular these comments from Google's Adam Lasnik....

...this isn't the way we communicate that your site is violating our guidelines (unlike our Webmaster Tools, where Webmasters of penalized sites can often find a warning/status message).

If you've seen your PR adjusted to a non-zero number OR you've lost significant traffic, this thread does not really apply to you.

If, however, your PR has dropped to zero AND you've not seen any significant loss in traffic from Google, rest assured that this is most likely a PR-reporting (PR on Toolbar) error; while admittedly alarming at first site, it's nothing to worry about. The tail does not wag the dog in these circumstances :)

With that said, I'll be chatting with some colleagues again today to hash out what might be occurring, and I'll report back here with any news.

Some users subsequently also reported a grayed out PageRank bar, also apparently a glitch....

Pages now show greybar PR Zero
Has anybody a clue what's causing this?

The problem, as you and others suggest, has been continuing.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 3:48 am (utc) on Aug. 7, 2007]


 9:38 am on Aug 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

During the last PR shuffle several months ago, my site went from PR4 to "grey" for a while and then back to PR4.

After the shuffle was over it dropped to PR0 and that's where it has stayed. I admit it was breaking one of google's website guidelines in a big way which is probably why it was hit hard.

I would definately think of grey PR during a shuffle on pages that used to have a PR as a warning, regardless of what google search says.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:11 pm (utc) on Aug. 7, 2007]
[edit reason] removed specifics and clarified [/edit]


 7:51 pm on Aug 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

It is a bit strange...

I tried a pagerank check on a site which checks 72 datacenters and most said pagerank 0 but some were on pagerank 5.

The homepage itself does not show a cache in Google.

It is only the homepage which has no pagerank - all other pages are fine. It is a white bar - rather than grey.
The search listings in Google seem the same - so traffic has not been affected.

It just looks a bit bad - because so many advertisers will look at pagerank to value a site. I am just coming to the end of a big update and was hoping to finally make some advertising revenue - so it is worrying.

I guess at this point i have to wait and see what happens.

Thanks for all the help and advice.


 3:44 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I now notice that all the datacenters are showing pagerank 0 for my homepage.


This is going to make selling advertising almost impossible.

What can i do?


 3:50 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

It seems the toolbar pagerank update has started over the last few days. I have seen a few pages I watch change pr, but nothing drastic so far.

Pass the Dutchie

 7:14 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

does your home page show in the SERPs for a unique phrase or site:www.example.com


 7:17 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)


All keywords are still ranked well and some are very competitive.

Site command shows everything as ok also.

Robert Charlton

 8:01 am on Aug 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

All keywords are still ranked well and some are very competitive.

Then I'd believe Adam Lasnik and not worry about it.

...If, however, your PR has dropped to zero AND you've not seen any significant loss in traffic from Google, rest assured that this is most likely a PR-reporting (PR on Toolbar) error; while admittedly alarming at first site, it's nothing to worry about....


 9:36 pm on Aug 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

I just discovered a problem in my code while running a spider simulator...

A bunch of links that i deleted ages ago in dreamweaver were still in the source code. So ive had links in the source code with no ankor text. Looks like when i manually deleted these in dreamweaver it somehow only deleted the text and not the link.

These links were on all my main pages apart from my forums and i have noticed that now other pages of my site is becoming a white pagerank 0.

I have obviously got rid of these links from the code now.
Do you guys still think this is a pagerank error or have i been penalised for a coding mistake?

Search listings are still good but none of the pagerank 0 pages are showing any cache. The search listings which still show have a fairly old cache, so i fear that these may be dropped soon.

Any advice appreciated.


 1:48 am on Aug 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

That kind of link might trigger a "hidden link" detection routine. Time will tell how it played into your situation. No matter what, it's good that you found those anchor elements got rid of them. However, I don't think that a PR0 for the url would be the result, unless it was also accompanied by a ranking drop.


 10:10 pm on Sep 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Toolbar PR has still not been updated, and your Toolbar PR is unlikely to move because of these changes until that happens. However, your real PR may have changed (assuming your real PR ever was reduced to zero, that is). You would see this affecting your ranking and traffic.

Do you have any more news on this issue?


 10:58 pm on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well i still have the problem and i am still not sure what caused the pagerank to go to 0.

My search listings do seem ok but it is hard to monitor as i have thousands of search terms being used each month by visitors. My traffic and search listings did drop off a little but this is most likely because some sites that used to link to me are now removing the links - most likely because they see a pagerank 0 on the homepage and believe something is wrong. That said i can't see any major difference in my main keywords.

At this point i would like to know if other people have experienced the same problem.

I am prepairing a list of all the possible causes that i can think of that might have caused this and will post these tommorow.

It is very annoying because i can't see why my site would be penalised.

[edited by: tedster at 11:10 pm (utc) on Sep. 25, 2007]


 11:08 pm on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

All keywords are still ranked well and some are very competitive.

Then you are NOT penalized, you are seeing a bug in the toolbar Page Rank function. It happened to many sites months ago, and it has not been fixed. Sorry that others are removing their links to you - that's exactly the kind of fallout we were discussing in another thread [webmasterworld.com].

At this point i would like to know if other people have experienced the same problem.

The thread that Robert_Charlton linked to above shows that, yes, other people have experienced exactly this. Google's Adam Lasnik posted in that thread and acknowledged that there was a problem here with false PR 0 being reported.

Again, since your traffic maintains at it's same level, you won't likely be able to find any reasons that are under your control. The flaw here apparently lies with Google.


 8:20 pm on Sep 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is going to make selling advertising almost impossible.

What can i do?

If your traffic is still the same it shouldn't make much difference what the toolbar says. However, if you are selling link ads and basing the price on your PR then you will be losing some advertisers.


 10:34 pm on Oct 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Still not sure if this is an error or if i have been penalised for something.


Used to be a pagerank 6-7 before start of August

Now homepage is a pangerank 0 & some other pages are also a pagerank 0 - but most pages still show pagerank

If i do cache:www.example.com - it says the page has not matched any documents - however if i go to Google and type "example" my site appears and the cache is up to date (i find this odd).

Back links show when i try link:example.com about 800 back links, mostly from good quality sites

Google webmaster tools reports the site as indexed and no warning messages.

Search Traffic in August dropped off about 10% and about 30% in September, however my traffic in July was about 35% up and my traffic often goes up and down in this way. I have good traffic in general, so can't measure all my keywords as they are always changing. The main keywords seem much the same but these also change up and down a bit. I still have some very competitive keywords going to the pagerank 0 pages in Google.

What may have caused a penalisation if it did occur...

I discovered some links that i had removed in dreamweaver but a closer look at the html source showed <a href="http://www.example.com/"><br></a> - dreamweaver had only removed the Link text, not the actual link. (all these links were removed a few days after the pagerank 0, as i started to invesitgate)

When doing a http header check on my site for some reason the server is not recognised (host does not know why, but all their clients are the same and they all have pagerank)

When recently renewing my domain name (April), my register recommended making my domain name details private as this would stop spam emails (could this be the reason - as Google think the domain has a new owner? - had my details put back a few days ago)

I have been planning to change my company name - as i wanted a new image on the back of a new update currently being worked on so did not update my company domain name. This domain name was linked to everypage of the site & i lost track of time - as such someone else purchased it. They put a lot of spammy links on it, some of them adult related but only deep into this portal - most were just the normal gambling type links. They turned it into a kind of domain holding page with spammy links. (As soon as i discovered this i removed the link but i don't think this would cause the proglem as many sites may link by accident to these spammy link farms when a domain expires for a short while - it is only 1 link)

Some changes were made to my htaccess file as part of the update being worked on. My htaccess used to 301 from http://example.com to http://www.example.com - this is no longer the case. (Maybe the changes to htaccess did something else, although http viwers and spider simulators show no odd redirects)

The homepage and most of the pages that did goto a pagerank 0 have been static for a long time - around 5 years (this is because the update is huge but has a few bugs still and is not ready to go live just yet - it should have been finished ages ago but i had serious illness in my family and had to stop working on it. Ironically the update is now almost complete but i now have a pagerank 0 site and may struggle to fill advertising slots if markets believe there is a problem).

Iv'e exhuasted all avenues to investigate further & have to concentrate on getting my update complete and live - maybe this will solve the problem.

Do you still think is a Google error or a site penalised by mistake?

[edited by: tedster at 10:50 pm (utc) on Oct. 2, 2007]
[edit reason] switch to example.com - it can never be owned [/edit]


 10:59 pm on Oct 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

My htaccess used to 301 from http://example.com to http://www.example.com - this is no longer the case.

I think this may be very close to your troubles. If you removed your canonical fix, Google is now getting both kinds of urls for your domain, with and without "www". Even before I read that part of your post, I noticed earlier on that your report about various operator searches was inconsistent with the use of "www".

You may have confused Google about the canonical root of your site and they're trying to sort it out from your server's new instructions. I would un-confuse things as fast as possible. Don't be casual about htaccess changes in any way - that is like being casual about brain surgery.

When doing a http header check on my site for some reason the server is not recognised

That may well be another danger sign - some problem here could also cause other user agents trouble - like googlebot!

You've mentioned other issues here, too. Any one or all of them could be contributing. The ownership issue can be sorted - register with Google Webmaster Tools and authenticate the site. Fix everything you can and then be as patient as possible about seeing the results.

[edited by: tedster at 6:41 pm (utc) on Oct. 8, 2007]


 2:59 am on Oct 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

A few quick thoughts:

1) If you haven't seen any huge fall-off in traffic from Google, don't worry.

2) If you have seen a huge fall-off in traffic, it's possible your site has violated our guidelines. I encourage you to have very blunt/honest/insightful friends/colleagues/forum-members look over your site with a fine-tooth comb. Fix anything that needs fixing. Then file a reconsideration request.

3) Convinced nothing on your site is violating our webmaster guidelines? The change in traffic might be algorithmic. Work on creating more original and compelling content and tools.

Re: gray/white toolbar PR. It's possible the googlebot had trouble crawling those pages. Or, if your entire site shows a 0/gray/white toolbar PR AND you've had a huge fall-off in traffic from Google, I'd go back to #2 above.


 5:08 pm on Oct 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks for that clarifying view, Adam. This question comes up frequently, so I'll be sending lots of people a link to your reply.


 12:24 pm on Oct 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> I discovered some links that i had removed in dreamweaver but a closer look at the html source showed <a href="http://www.example.com/"><br></a> - dreamweaver had only removed the Link text, not the actual link. <<

A tool like Xenu LinkSleuth would have alerted you to this a long time ago. Run it over your site and see if there are any other issues within.


>> My htaccess used to 301 from http://example.com to http://www.example.com - this is no longer the case <<

If you have removed the redirect, or have reversed it, then you may have created a huge problem for your site. Take heed of what happened to the ODP when their canonical fix was applied a month or two back. Their indexing is all over the place at the present time.

You were checking links against one particular root URL. What do the other possible versions give you?


They are all different URLs and will all report different things.


 8:45 pm on Oct 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks for all the help so far everyone & sorry i did not reply earlier - i don't seem to have a minute these days.

Hard to believe my luck but while trying to get to the bottom of this i discovered that my site had been hacked.

A security hole in part of the update had been used to upload a file & it was somehow locked. I had to get my host to unlock it to view it (php file). I wanted to see what it was doing but it was encrypted.

Not only have i got pagerank issues - but i need to go through all the code now to see if they did anything else.

I wonder if whatever this file was doing might be the cause of my pagerank issues.
The file is deleted & the security hole patched.

Such is life on the net i guess.

I will update you soon with any changes but it looks like i will need to do a re-inclusion request as my site has now started to loose a good bit of traffic. I guess the pagerank 0 kicks in after a couple months.


 8:51 pm on Oct 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the update. Ouch - that server hack certainly changes the whole picture. One common reason for server hacking (and this is getting more common all the time) is to place parasite links - usually to "bad neighborhoods" and sometimes even cloaked for googlebot.

I'm wondering how often we get a report here of what seems like an ordinary ranking problem, but in reality it's related to a server hack and parasite hosting.


 9:20 pm on Oct 11, 2007 (gmt 0)


When you say parasite links - do you think they placed hidden links on the pages that went to pagerank 0 (as only some pages lost pagerank, others still have the calming green bar)?

I have kept a copy of the file they uploaded but as it is encrypted it is hard to know what the purpose of it was. That said, my host is very reputable & have a record of this & can confirm the hack. If pagerank does not return soon i will do a re-inclusion request and give the contacts.

What i suspected is that they might be doing spam emails and this might have somehow got my put in the bad books - the thought of them linking to bad sites is a worry.

When my update is complete it will be obvious that my site is reputable as so much work has gone into it but its going to be a few months yet before its ready. I still need some designs, an advertising system, etc.

I am sure a re-inclusion request would be a sucsess at this point but after 3 months the pagerank 0 might give me a bad rep.
Not sure if i should wait or try sooner.

I suppose i could show the backend and how the site will soon look. The update really is a different site and it would be a shame to loose it all at this point.

It is ironic that i had the traffic while the live site was poor and now that the backend is soon to go live i wont have the traffic to show just how nice the directory will be.


 1:42 am on Oct 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well i have put all the old 301 redirects back in place.

So "mysite.com" now redirects to "www.mysite.com" as it used to.
I also managed to decode the php file that was uploaded and it appeared to be some hacker script for obtainted passwords to the server.
I had my host delete the file and have changed all my passwords. The file was sending info to a hacker site in Russia.
I had someone hack into the server about a year ago also from Russia, so this time i have obtained a IP block and banned the entire country from visiting my site.
I don't currently do & have no plans to do any business with anyone in Russia so hopefully this should be the end of the problem.
I also discovered the security hole that allowed them to got in and it has been patched.

Still no pagerank on the homepage and no cache on any of the following,

I will spend the next week checking all files on the server just to be sure they didn't manage to upload any other files.

As i have now fixed everything i can think of i have no choice but to wait while i continue finishing my sites update. If the pagerank still isn't back by this time i guess i have to do a re-inclusion request.

Thats is - unless anyone can think of anything else that might be worth checking?


 3:06 am on Oct 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

I will add my $.2 to this discussion....

# Back in February we had a site that got proxy hijacked.
At the same time we discovered a hack.
The hack was consisting in adding a hidden frame into the HTML code and would install a trojan/virus on visitors computers.

we fixed the security hole very quickly, totally formatted the server drive.
Reported the proxy hijack in a spam report, few weeks later it was gone.

# Results: many pages lost their pagerank. Rankings were unstable for a few weeks.
The GWT was not showing many of the pages previously hijacked.

This summer some page got back some pagerank, but not all of them.

# Now for a few weeks, it looks like the site is "loosing" pages again. Many pages are not cached and can't be found, although they are well linked internally and sometimes have fine incoming links from other sites.

# I had the server checked again, went through the logs manually, hired a security expert and nothing seems to be wrong on the server.

Still the entire site seems to have "lost its value" on Google.com (not other TLD's).
I can see that by typing the unique domain name and Google.com returns only 1 URL, the homepage. And when searching for the Unique domain name + obviously associated keywords like "example.com widget" then other sites show up above the site itself.

The site has always been speaky clean, never spammed, never violated any guidelines. But it's an industry where competitors can certainly use tricks to make you look bad, I don't know how but they certainly would.

# So maybe HostingDirectory problem and mine would be similar.

What would you recommend in such case?
Reinclusion request? Knowing that we have to aknowledge doing something that violated Google's guideline while we certainly did not?

Or should we just let Google go its own way and wait for the issue to be fixed by itself?
Rewrite an entire website? (no no, no way :) )


[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 4:13 am (utc) on Oct. 15, 2007]


 4:53 am on Oct 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

we have to aknowledge doing something that violated Google's guideline while we certainly did not?

Well, maybe you didn't knowingly violate Google's guidelines, but "your site" did, because of the hack. The acknowledgement is that your site violated guidelines. Getting re-considered would, for me, be more important than the checkbox's exact meaning.


 2:18 pm on Oct 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

You are correct Tedster, but even when we've been hacked it was fixed within minutes and Googlebot did not crawl at that time that I am aware of.

This and the proxy issue were months ago, and all seemed to come back to normal until recently when the site started "loosing" pages again.

I have the whole server checke entirely for the 3rd time today but nothing seems wrong.
If anything violated any guidelines, then nobody can find it - first time I see a site of this age and quality barely ranking for its unique brand name.

Except for the old proxy hijack the site was always super clean and valued, never even sent any promotional emails, no need to.
We don't even have a popup or even ads, the site is purely unique info+some self promo pages.

I guess that only Google can tell what's wrong, because at this point I am clueless and totally frustrated (and almost fired apparently) and now I have to tell Google that our site violated "Something" that nobody can find, none of the 2 previous security super-experts have found.
I can't believe that only an old proxy hijack can do that.

I whish that Google would increase communication directed to webmasters that truly have no clue where guidelines may have been violated ever.

Re-enabling the message center in the GWT could be a start.

I really start to believe that some nasty people have found another way to remove their competitors. Hope I am just being paranoid.


 9:13 pm on Oct 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Looks like this may have been an error after all, although i have made some further changes to my site.

Pagerank is now showing & the page does cache as it used to do. I did not do a re-inclusion request because i wanted to get the site fully updated first.

My homepage pagerank is only a 4 - it used to be a 6 but atleast it is not a 0.

Some of the recent changes i made were,

Place back the 301 redirect for,
mysite.com to www.mysite.com (including index.htm, etc)
Add a robots.txt
Add a baseref to all my pages
Add a custom 404 page
Changed my domain name whois details back - as they were hidden before
Removed many old pages & files not being used on the server in preparation for my update (over 2000 deleted but many should not have been indexed - as they were test files)
Removed old link exchange pages
Deleted some old external links to sites which had either changed or sites which had been static for a while and poor quality
Changed all my login details , passwords and usernames and removed the php script uploaded by the hackers
Moved all my images into one folder - so all image links were updated & the internal linking of the site also changed on nearly every link as all pages have been organised into folders, etc
Blocked the entire country of Russia in my htaccess file as this is where the hackers came from
Got rid of some internal links / pages where the content had been static for a while.

What do i think was the problem - well any of the above could have caused a problem but i actually believe that my pagerank problem came from pages which had been static for too long without being update.

Maybe this causes a penalty of some kind.

This entire episode has done me a favour because my server is much cleaner now & it should make the rest of the update much easier.

Everything for a reason i guess.

I am happy now.

Thanks for all your help


 12:24 am on Oct 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

...i actually believe that my pagerank problem came from pages which had been static for too long without being update.

That *might* be a factor in your ranking position, but it has nothing to do with PageRank.


 10:56 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yes true in nearly all cases but with the possibility of human intervention - a static site might seem open to a downgrade of some sort & pagerank might be an option.

This would make sense if a static site for sometime was ranking fairly high for very competive keywords & i can understand that. That said, on my uprgrade my site will be of very high quality as i spent so much time getting it right. I guess i am more of an artist than a business man because an update / upgrade should be done in parts but with a small team working part time on a massive project this is very hard. I do believe that when my update is realised that my pagerank will go up a great deal in the next pagerank update due to unique / quality content.
In all honesty my site never really deserved to rank so high for so long but the irony is that i spent the last few years working to get the quality high because of the many enquries for advertisment, etc. My search listings are still good but the drop in pagerank does put a downer on things, even so - atleast it is no longer a pagerank 0.
I believe that pagerank is balanced between the unique content of the site vs the outbound / inbound links and that is the reason why high profile sites were not affected by pagerank decreases.
This makes sense.
I do worry though that human intervention will disturb the real algo and i think this is a mistake for Google if this is what they are doing.
Google's sucsess has been on their ability to please all groups - users / webmasters / businesses.
It is a very fine balance that gives great rewards but also something that can quickly turn the wrong way.

In all i am happy to have some pagerank back but dissapointed by the drop that many people have experienced. I have never even sold advertising yet - so i never did sell links even though my pagerank got lots of interest in the past.
Oddly enough my backlinks currently show 0 when in fact they are around 40,000 - 50,000 thousand (fairly high quality).
They did show during the pagerank 0 crisis i experienced which is strange but perhaps its just another thing that will fix during time or something left over from the supposed / suspected penalisation.
I do believe that Google with it's influence and power does and should have some responsiblity for small businesses trying to get a piece of the pie in the now agressive internet market.
Backlinks / pagerank should always be up to date & as clean as possible.
Penalisations should be clear by way of email or reported in webmaster tools - it is not fair on the little guy to not know if there is a Google error if they have done something wrong.
A simple - we have deducted your pagerank because we feel you were selling links would surfice or your site is penalised because of....

Google is dominating the internet but should be more kind to the webmaster community as we break a hell of a lot of work into trying to make a few bucks.
If something goes wrong in Google - if it is an error / something done not realised a companies online business is finished.
But Google got there because we all loved them and they normally help us out by putting things back as they were in time (as in my case). But still...
They are being a little evil about their power currently.

Be fair to us Google as the internet can quickly change its views.

Thats all i got to say!

Thanks for all the help from everyone.

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