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This 41 message thread spans 2 pages: 41 ( [1] 2 > >     
The Grey Bar PR0 Phenomenon

 8:33 am on Apr 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi All.

I have made an interesting discovery with regards to inner page that have got a grey bar for no apparent reason.

These pages normally get the +30, +950, +whatever :) penalty and never return.

The thing that is interesting is this.

If you look at the backlinks with google of these grey bar pages, it returns zero backlinks found. Inner pages that still have pr or are white bar show internal links when looking at the Google backlinks and these pages still rank.

Grey bar is in my opinion the new way of showing a page is supplimentary, ie, they are not considered important.

Look at your sites and you will see this. I have looked at many sites now and they all showthe same behaviour.

Please post your observations.




 5:57 pm on Apr 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have also been pondering the "grey bar disease" and you've given me another factor to look at, thanks.

I don't think this can be a universal explanation - for example, some very prominent directories have been showing grey bar PR for a while, but those pages have demonstrable value in the SERPs and in their ability to send some link juice.

The question to be addressed is which came first, the grey bar or the supplemental classification. Not sure I know right now. I use the toolbar data less and less recently because it just doesn't give me anything actionable most of the time.


 6:47 pm on Apr 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

While talking about the dreaded bar. I came accross the opposite last night. A domain on my server set up for a friend to develop something is showing a PR of 4 and really has no backlinks. It has never been promoted and even Yahoo only shows a couple of old links from blog/spam/mfaw pages on a single site that are no longer there. Google obviously has it indexed and it does have analytics installed but where it gets PR4 from is just plain bizzare. BTW it was a new .com domain using a unique name so no historical before registration 18 months ago.


 5:16 am on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

< Moved from another location >

I have a pagerank 6 site. It ranks number 3 for it's keyword. It's a directory with hundreds of pages. All of the pages are about 3 years old. All pages are indexed. There is the main page which links to about 20 subcatagories (these have PR 4 or 5), then these subcategories link to the rest of the pages. About 30 percent of the rest of the pages either have a white bar or PR1 or PR2. These all rank in the top 10 or 20 for there respective keywords. But about 70% of the pages have the damn gray bar. They rank not even in the top 100 for there respective keywords and these are not very competive keywords mind you.

Basically, the site is respected enough by google for the main page and many of the interior pages to rank highly. But, I can't get the gray bar pages to flip over to white.

At first I thought it was a temporary thing, but the pages are getting to be almost a year old.

How do I get Google to accept these gray bar pages as it has with many similar pages in the directory. There seems to be no way to determine why google diferentiates from one page to the other. (you're gray, you're white, you're PR1) They are all very similar pages.

[edited by: tedster at 6:09 am (utc) on April 24, 2008]


 8:25 am on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

That is the question, how do you get a page that is gre-bar back to even white-bar. Is it possible?

man in poland

 9:19 am on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is an interesting thread - I've had the "grey bar disease" hit a few of my internal pages, including our links/resources page. It has also hit an internal page which targets a very valuable theme - let's call it "cityABC hotels" - these pages are still indexed and often rank well. I have a theory that the grey bar is essentially masking PR to discourage link selling from those particular pages. The link juice may in fact still be passing, but it makes the page less attractive to potential link purchasers.

I believe this is just one possible reason for the grey bar effect, however - being too template-like, duplicate, supplemental and all the other reasons still apply.

Would be interested to hear if anyone has similar observations. ie if Mr Grey Bar has hit certain pages of your site, is the 'theme' of those pages potentially valuable in terms of link selling?


 9:32 am on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

My site is <widgets> dealing with 'New' And 'Used' The grey bar is a funny one, in the previous previous update, Everything on the new side was grey barred and the 'Used' was pr 3, then on the next update and currently everything on the 'Used' side is grey and the 'New' side is pr 3.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:07 am (utc) on April 25, 2008]
[edit reason] removed specifics [/edit]

man in poland

 9:37 am on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Maybe it's all tied into Adwords bids? It would be very easy to do. Looks like bids for 'used' <widgets> may have climbed in recent months! Business-wise, it would make absolute sense... herding advertisers to Adsense and away from independent link purchasing in their 'themes'.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:08 am (utc) on April 25, 2008]
[edit reason] removed specific [/edit]


 10:33 am on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

< moved from another location >

Not sure if anyone else is seeing this at the moment, but every site I visit at the moment has no PR at all. I have tried US sites and UK sites, but they all have no PR according to the Google Toolbar.

I have tried a few computers around my office and they are all the same.

Is anyone else seeing this at the moment? I am in the UK.

Might this be a Toolbar update?

[edited by: tedster at 3:28 pm (utc) on April 24, 2008]


 4:17 pm on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Toolbar is now showing PR again in the UK, was not showing for about 3 maybe 4 hours during today.

Don't think I can see any changes on PR from site that I use regular, if I see any will post it here.




 8:52 pm on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Also make sure you're testing pages in at least 2 browsers. For whatever reason in IE some of our PR 5 internal pages show a grey bar but show PR 5 using the firefox toolbar.


 10:08 am on May 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google Pages with internal links - Observation Part 2

Hi All.

I posted about a week ago regarding the Grey Bar issue and the fact that they have no backlinks.

This has been confirmed 100% if you use Google Webmaster Tools.

For the site in question, the only pages that still rank and that have either white or green bars are those that I see in the...

"Pages with internal links" found under links in the Tools.



I will bet anything that this can be seen with everyone who has been hit by the grey bar effect.

The big question is why has this happened.

I think it only fair that Google give us some help on this one.


[edited by: tedster at 10:16 am (utc) on May 3, 2008]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]


 9:27 am on May 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

For the site in question, the only pages that still rank and that have either white or green bars are those that I see in the...

"Pages with internal links" found under links in the Tools.

I too can confirm this.

Pages that do show with internal links will rank. For us it is -950 but show in serps. Those that do not show up are not shown in the serps or are replaced by a page that links to the proper page again -950 range.

What is weird is that very few of these pages stick in the "pages with internal links" they either drop completely or loose a chunk of internal links while other pop in there. NEVER for a year and a half have I seen anything stick for a long period of time. I should add that everything on the site link wise is proper and in working order with absolute linking.

Also internal links to our home page is just a fraction of what it should be. It too bounces up and down. Googlebot completely crawls our site pretty much every couple days. Thousands of pages. The site being 6-7 years old...Google should darn well know what links to what.

Also noticed that "external links" are showing a similar behavior. Nothing sticking. A huge chunk will appear for some pages for a week or so and then disappear. 2 particular main section pages disappeared with GREY BARS when the external and internal links disappeared. They return to the serps (-950 of course) when those show up. These pages have been around for YEARS so big G should know what links, at least long standing internal and external links, those pages have.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:19 pm (utc) on May 4, 2008]


 9:44 am on May 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is exactly the same problem I'm having and wanted so bad to know 'WHY'. Of all the reasons I can thought of when reviewing my page, I believe it has something to do with your back link.

Is your website gaining too many backlinks in a short time? Or it have too many backlinks with the similar (similar but not same) anchor text? To me it seems the latter is the reason for my case.


 2:07 pm on May 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

hi guys
my pages shuffle on each update from pr to no pr/grey. I am totally mistified by it, however i wonder if it has anything to do with maybe an uneven/unnatural growth of links, i assume the google algo must take some sort of benchmark of sites like a before and after, and if you trip its filter then it throws the book at you and then investigates anchor text?


 2:17 pm on May 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Those that are having issues, have you changed your pages,re design,re keyworded up?


 3:18 pm on May 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

The whole mystery stays unsolved. We have changed pages on some domains. Some went grey, some not. On other domains we have not touched a bit and the pages show grey from former PR1 or white.

Since we do everything from super clean on some domains to shady on others, I can not assign a specific cause or pattern to the values nor to some rankings.

Here are some personal opinions:

a) First of all, I do believe that this PR update was partial. Google spidered a complete fresh index from end of January to the 21st of April and and went to rest (fresh bot only). All computing power was devoted to implement the fundamental ranking algorithms. Factors like the hilltop principles plus the trust rank ideas were applied as stronger factors and Pagerank re-calculations implemented. All links not set in March or links from smaller PR4 might have fallen through (=> only a feeling that something like that was going on)

b) Grey with ranking for search term:

Page content changed significantly or is passing links to the outside to fresh, unknown URLs

c) Grey and not ranking for search term in the top 1000 SERPS:

1. - if older than December 2007 : page is dead or has NO incoming links to mention

2. - if younger than Dec07 : hang in there!

d) Grey and former PR5+ : link seller, now dead

Just some theories...



 7:02 am on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

I was recently dealing with a customer's site that have been hit by the -950 penalty.

1. The site was not not showing up with its brand or URL.
2. The PR 2 in the toolbar was greyed out.

The penalty was due to growing spontaneously, without being planted or tended by human hand. It was a black hat SEO company who generated 1832 doorway pages, for the site which had all together only 11 pages!

I cleaned up the mess and requested a re-inclusion, and for our big luck, 21 hours later Google have removed the penalty.

The toolbar showed again PR 2 and the site was ranking at the top again, as it used to do before that disaster took place.

Since the recent PR update, the site has now PR 3.


 9:32 am on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

For what its worth i have many pages without a backlink profile which used to be grey barred but are now white PR0. All the pages are pretty young (some <1 year, some <2 years). Lots of internal linking going on.

Most of them do not rank very well though (because of missing IBLs i wager). I'm guessing the grey->white switch is due to seemingly natural changes over time more than anything else.


 9:50 am on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

For the sites that have pretty good PR overall on home pages, when they have interior pages that are gray barred, could it be that these pages are considered to be portals and, in terms of the toolbar, treated differently? Several of you seem to have a situation where the site overall is ranked well and the pages you're talking about being gray barred have a lot of outbound links.

My site's listing in Yahoo is from a large alphabetical subindex. The page my site is listed on is gray. All of the higher indexes leading to it are gray. However, my google traffic increased when I got the listing.

I was considering membership in an organization in my industry. One of the benefits of membership is the members' directory which links to members' websites. I was surprised to see that these pages were gray barred, given the PR of the home page (pr6). In fact, it seems like the sooner you come across the gray bar, traveling from the home page inward, the higher the pr of the site. It doesn't gradually go down. It just jumps from pr8 to gray or pr6 to gray.


 12:21 pm on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

I read this thread last month as we, too, were seeing 'greybar disease' affecting large parts of an ecommerce site. Home page a solid PR5, 20 category pages with PR4 (except one, greybarred, for unknown reason). But most product pages are greybar and don't rank for very specific four, five and six word phrases that name or describe each product. The category pages that link to the product pages were ranking for these phrases, but poorly.

As an experiment I took a half-dozen product pages and threw links at them from a couple of our other sites, using the long-tail product name / description phrases as link text. Just checked today, and the greybar product pages are at #1 for all six phrases. The pages are still greybar, but now they rank where I would (honestly, given the specificity of the phrases) expect them to.

Doesn't explain why G decided to choose some product pages to greybar and not others, and not really a scaleable solution for all the product pages on our ecom site, but just thought I'd share the results.

(To confirm / clarify some of the items mentioned above: We don't sell links. The greybar product pages have little value in AdWords. They have no external links. We haven't changed design or content on these pages recently. And yes, none of our greybar pages are listed in GWT's 'Pages with internal links'.)


 8:00 pm on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have just accepted it as one more way Google is purging more pages from the index. It seems to me they have transferred the way they evaluate pages for quality in Adwords to the natural results.


 8:28 pm on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

i does appear common / grey bar = no backlinks in wmt back link profile, does your pages also not appear in the internal links?


 3:54 am on Jun 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have a lot of content to get grey barred too. Many of the main pages are pr5-pr4, but a lot of the dynamically created content which was similar but slightly different. Imagine something like a car spec catalog which specs from year to year are different, but for the most part very similar. Much of the info is slightly different but redundant.

[edited by: Roxster at 3:54 am (utc) on June 18, 2008]


 2:55 pm on Jun 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing /directory/ main pages grey-barred (the ones that get linked to in global navigation) but the pages inside those /directories/ do show PR.


 1:39 pm on Jul 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

This issue needs to be re-visited in view of the current (July, 2008) Toolbar PR update. There really is something strange going on with internal PR distribution and some pages going grey-barred, and it's now even more prominent.

I think I'll put GA and WMT on a couple of sites with grey internal pages and see what shows up in view of what some folks in this thread have been seeing.


 2:28 pm on Jul 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing pages still with grey-bar back in the rankings. These previosuly disappeared into the Google wilderness

Robert Charlton

 5:03 pm on Jul 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

One of the benefits of membership is the members' directory which links to members' websites....

I'd also noted that this kind of page in particular had gotten hit... and in fact a common feature I've seen with many grey-bar pages is that they are "directory style" or resource pages of some sort. However, a great many directory style pages retained TBPR as normal.

Possibly, Google had been algorithmically flagging some pages that looked like they might be selling links, or might be FFA pages. My thought was that they were doing this... pending hand checks... to discourage link selling.

I haven't been looking at these since the TBPR update.

Regarding the Yahoo Directory pages recently discussed...

Yahoo Directory Gray barred?

...the issue here was identified by Matt Cutts as upper vs lower case canonicalization, and Matt made it clear that "the Yahoo Directory has plenty of PageRank in our internal systems."

I checked the links to various Yahoo Dir pages mentioned in the discussion that showed the problems. Two now return 404s, and one prominent page, which mixes upper and lower case, still shows greybar. Changing that url to all lower-case still brings up the page, but that doesn't change the TBPR display.


 1:06 pm on Sep 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'd also noted that this kind of page in particular had gotten hit... and in fact a common feature I've seen with many grey-bar pages is that they are "directory style" or resource pages of some sort. However, a great many directory style pages retained TBPR as normal.

Possibly, Google had been algorithmically flagging some pages that looked like they might be selling links, or might be FFA pages. My thought was that they were doing this... pending hand checks... to discourage link selling.

I've got a site that actually is a directory, it's been up for 8 years and until just not too long ago was PR5 on the homepage and PR4 on all the internal pages. There are only a few outbounds on each page and there's no submission, I just *very* occasionally add a link I find on my own, or remove bad links.

It's now PR4 on the homepage with most of the directory pages PR3 and a few PR0. Much to my surprise I just recently found that the site now has sitelinks for one of the main sub-topics/keyword phrases for the niche topic, and it's ONLY the pages related to the KW phrase that has the sitelinks and are included in the sitelinks that have PR3.

The pages that don't have PR are definitely within the overall topical area and relevant to the site, but they aren't specifically semantically close to the phrase/topic that has the sitelinks and that the other pages are very closely semantically related to.

I hope this is clear enough, it's 6am and sleep is beckoning. ;)

Short version:
>>All those pages have the same internal linking (with evidence that some global (boilerplate) navigation is being discounted).
>> The pages included in the sitelinks have PR3.
>> The pages not included in the sitelinks show a grey-bar.

I'm convinced that some degree of keyword co-occurrence is playing into this, and also have a nagging suspicion that it may be possible that there might be some topic-sensitive PageRank calculations edging their way into the mix.

[edited by: Marcia at 1:18 pm (utc) on Sep. 11, 2008]


 11:58 pm on Nov 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

When I first saw this phenomenon with one of my sites, which is a very simply linked link directory, I put together another site which has no external links and passed some PR to it from another site which is unconnected to the first site. This second site also has the grey bar disease. Unfortunately after looking at the two totally different cases, I can't give any explanation for this effect.

The link directory has 27 pages, a home page which links to 26 pages with external links on. Each of these pages links only back to the home page and to a number of external websites varying from 1 to about 20. The home page has a PR of 4 and 10 of the link pages have PR's of 3. The rest of the link pages have a grey bar. As far as I can see there is nothing to differentiate the grey PR pages and the PR3 pages. I've even played around with 'nofollow' with the external links, which doesn't seem to make any difference once Google has subsequently updated toolbar PR.

One thing I have noticed, which I don't think anybody has mentioned, is that sites that are linked to from the pages with a grey PR do include my page in its backlinks so it doesn't necessarily look like Google is ignoring these pages.

The other site has 50 pages, no external links, unique content on each page, and consists of 3 levels. There is a single top level page, linking to 7 pages, these 7 pages all have 8 links, one back to the top level, one to another page in the same level, and 6 to the lower level. Each page in the lowest level also has 8 links, 1 back to the top level and 1 back to each of the 7 pages in the middle level.

This second site also suffers from about 2/3 of the pages having a grey bar. Again there's no obvious explanation why some pages have the grey bar and others don't.

From what I've seen it doesn't seem to be anything to do with external links or having similar content. The only common factor these 2 sites have and which Google might be targeting, is that a high percentage of their PR comes from just a few links.

This 41 message thread spans 2 pages: 41 ( [1] 2 > >
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