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Graybar - Myths and Facts
Whitey




msg:3755369
 8:56 am on Sep 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

I was wondering what comprised myths and facts about the TBPR graybar, so here's my thoughts to kick things off . What's yours :

- sometimes it just doesn't update
- it relates to URL's that have not yet indexed
- it relates to a spam sites that are out of google's main index for infringing guidelines
- it relates to supplementary pages

Actually - what do we really know ?

 

Receptional Andy




msg:3755746
 4:52 pm on Sep 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

In some ways it looks like Google is using toolbar PageRank as a way of communicating (somewhat veiled) messages about pages. Toolbar PR can change and even become grey with no impact on performance.

MadeWillis




msg:3755787
 5:16 pm on Sep 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

This month my TBPR in IE has been gray, but still show in Firefox. Previously PR 4's and 5's. All changes in rankngs thus far have been positive.

[edited by: MadeWillis at 5:17 pm (utc) on Sep. 30, 2008]

Conard




msg:3755802
 5:34 pm on Sep 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Fact: The day TBPR shows an update the data used is 3 to 4 months old all ready.

Fact: The TBPR shown is NOT necessarily the real PR of any page at any given time.

Fact: Many graybar pages one quarter will show PR the next quarter with zero changes to the site or pages.

Fact: Many pages that show a TBPR of 3 or 4 one quarter could be gray the next and bounce back to the original 3 or 4 PR the next quarter with no changes to the site structure or pages involved.

Fact: TBPR is as broken as the back link operator Google feeds you when you check back links.

santapaws




msg:3755833
 6:24 pm on Sep 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Fact: The day TBPR shows an update the data used is 3 to 4 months old all ready.
Fact: The TBPR shown is NOT necessarily the real PR of any page at any given time.
Fact: Many graybar pages one quarter will show PR the next quarter with zero changes to the site or pages.
Fact: Many pages that show a TBPR of 3 or 4 one quarter could be gray the next and bounce back to the original 3 or 4 PR the next quarter with no changes to the site structure or pages involved.
Fact: TBPR is as broken as the back link operator Google feeds you when you check back links.

no way is the tbpr 4 months out of date, its weeks not months.
I wonder what you mean by real pr. Perhaps you mean pure raw page rank as it was in its very early days in which case i think you mean its not old the old formula for pr. Or maybe you mean its nothing to with the pr that is applied to your page for ranking purposes, well i would disagree, its just not the same figure for all pages because as was said, its indicative of other factors when it hits the toolbar.
Yes its goes grey and normal again because the signals they were reacting to have changed which might not even be onsite, or their own parameters have changed, or you was on a threshold that can easily shift either side at any one moment, and tbpr is a snapshot.
TBPR is not broken at all. The backlinks is not broken either, its been de seo-usefulised.
Thank you for your facts. :)

randle




msg:3755887
 7:43 pm on Sep 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Fact: TBPR is as broken as the back link operator Google feeds you when you check back links.

Yup, Google is very much into a concerted program of disinformation, and you know what? It works, this distorted bad data they put forth definitely makes things more challenging on the seo front.

santapaws




msg:3755948
 9:04 pm on Sep 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

its not broken then, it works as intended.

randle




msg:3756154
 11:28 pm on Sep 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Exactly.

leadegroot




msg:3756215
 1:55 am on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Never worry about a PR drop that is NOT accompanied by a rankings & traffic drop.
(Unless you are selling links based on your PR, in which case - well, they've caught you at it and it sucks to be you! :( )

Whitey




msg:3757770
 10:37 pm on Oct 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

In some ways it looks like Google is using toolbar PageRank as a way of communicating (somewhat veiled) messages about pages.

Do you have any thoughts on what those messages might be ?

contentcentric




msg:3760458
 12:25 pm on Oct 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

This may be a ridiculous question, but why should Google bother with including a backlinks feature at all if it's basically garbage? Seems like a waste of time and a good way to drive up business for sites that will tell you who's linking to/talking about you, both the ones who make those results available free and supported by advertising and the ones who charge for that data.

It sounds from the discussion like Google's so bent on war with a profession that they're going off track of their mission to provide people with useful information, and there are reasons besides SEO to want to know who's linking to you. That seems nonsensical for a company whose reputation was built on helping people find useful information easier and I just have a hard time buying it.

ryanep




msg:3760574
 3:26 pm on Oct 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Just to add to the comment.
I've had a site which lost all its traffic from google about 5 months ago but was never de-indexed. I suspected that it was somesort of penalty for too much link building especially in a very crowded niche ("bad credit"). The site lingerred on with a PR5 until just before yesterday when the front page was stripped of its PR to PR0 along with all its internal pages stripped too.

I've noticed that the webmaster console still shows thousands of backlinks. I've always thought that the TBPR was delayed but in my case it seems to have been delayed for 5 months! At least since my site was dumped.

Another thing that confuses me is that I always though that TBPR was a plain indication of the power and number of other pages which link to you. Even if my site is severely penalized wouldn't the PR still be the same? All the links from other pages are still there.

dailypress




msg:3760615
 4:40 pm on Oct 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Toolbar PR can change and even become grey with no impact on performance.
Good to know, cause the Toolbar goes gray for my fairly new site every other week.
Robert Charlton




msg:3760659
 5:33 pm on Oct 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

In some ways it looks like Google is using toolbar PageRank as a way of communicating (somewhat veiled) messages about pages.

Do you have any thoughts on what those messages might be ?

Generally, I've seen gray Toolbars on pages that look like directory-style pages that are heavy on links and light on other text.

I've been thinking that the message might be that the page has been algorithmically flagged as looking like the kind of page that might be selling links. If this is the message, it would be directed both to the potential link buyer (to fuzz up what the TBPR of the page is) and to the potential link seller (as a note that Google is watching this page).

It's likely that pages with grayed Toolbars end up getting hand checks... something that would be interesting to monitor.

night707




msg:3760678
 5:51 pm on Oct 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

How about old sites with tons of organic inbound links, that get suddenley downgraded from PR 4 to PR 0 ?

CainIV




msg:3760679
 5:54 pm on Oct 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

I would agree wholeheartedly with randle. The bar is simply a way to provide skewed information to SEO's.

The grey bar in my mind is simply another glitch inherent in the bar, since I have had lots of pages that were grey bar and ranked fine (and still do)

Haven't gone and and ever checked to see if those eventually got page rank.

Atomic




msg:3760822
 9:50 pm on Oct 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Generally, I've seen gray Toolbars on pages that look like directory-style pages that are heavy on links and light on other text.

That's my experience. I have a few pages with grey where I'd prefer green and each one contains mostly links to content.

g1smd




msg:3760872
 10:47 pm on Oct 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Two things.

If I do a search on Google Gadgets CSE for a keyword that appears on every page of the site, it only returns pages in the CSE results that are not grey bar.

If I look at Google WMT, at the Internal Links report, the list of URLs that have incoming links is (near enough) only those that are not grey barred.

Atomic




msg:3760878
 11:01 pm on Oct 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

If I do a search on Google Gadgets CSE for a keyword that appears on every page of the site, it only returns pages in the CSE results that are not grey bar.

I couldn't duplicate this when the conditions were the same.

anallawalla




msg:3760978
 2:17 am on Oct 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Fact: The day TBPR shows an update the data used is 3 to 4 months old all ready.

That is not a fact. A lot of people say it, but it is still not the case on day one of the TBPR update.

I can show you one new domain that was turned on days before the PR update and it is PR3. Another that was about 1.5 months old and it has PR2. (Both are .com.au in case the behaviour is different for ccTLDs.)

tedster




msg:3760987
 3:04 am on Oct 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm happy that you called out that myth - it is definitely untrue. The PR data that gets exported is maybe a couple weeks old at when it first shows up on the toolbar.

Quadrille




msg:3761456
 6:06 pm on Oct 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

While there are a few 'facts' about the Little Green Bar - especially when it's gray! - I find it much more useful to look at it much as you look at a barometer.

Few facts about your site or its ranking, but perhaps a warning, or an indication of trends.

PR > Gray 'tends' to be bad news, or at least a warning.

Yes, it could be that your server was out when the spider visited, or maybe Google has just noticed that most of your meta descriptions are identical or missing - neither would be the end of the world, and indeed your serps may be unchanged.

But at the other extreme, it could be that your pages have lost value as a result of joining a bad neighborhood, or have seriously transgressed in another way.

Or the page may be too new.

In most cases, gray means nothing taken alone; you need to look at it with knowledge of the page's Google history, and its age. And weigh all of that against any changes you have made or authorised that could have affected that page.

But simply looking at the gray bar, without context, is usually pretty unhelpful.

MadeWillis




msg:3761539
 8:17 pm on Oct 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Any of you experiencing gray bar TBPR....what browser are you using and have you tried another?

I see some gray bars for some of my pages when I use IE, but if I use Firefox I see green bars on those same pages.

Could the browser itself have a bug of some sort?

[edited by: MadeWillis at 8:19 pm (utc) on Oct. 8, 2008]

anallawalla




msg:3761584
 9:21 pm on Oct 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

I agree with Quadrille that the TBPR is useful as a barometer. Its best use is the greybar vs white/green pixels test:
  • greybar on one browser; white/green on another = probably a data centre issue for toolbarqueries.google.com. If you are worried, hard-code one of its IP addresses in the hosts file and then compare the two browsers. If they now are the same, delete that hosts entry and start worrying about adding fresh content or the economy.

  • white/green pixels change to greybar for a day or two = Wait, don't slash wrists. Check your site and backlinks. Check the panic level in this forum - thread > 4 pages means you need to read what the mods are saying.

  • white/green pixels change to greybar for a fortnight or two = Sla.., er, wait. Stronger possibility of a penalty. Check if any pages are still in the index. If some are, then it's a new algo. See what others are saying, as the WW thread is probably 15 pages by now.

  • white/green pixels change to greybar for three months or more = probable ban. You are probably not in the index at all, which confirms it. You probably know what you did wrong. Fix it or move on and start a new site with a new plan.

  • If the green pixels increase or decrease = no big deal, as your traffic has probably not changed at all.

The reason for the "the TBPR value is 3-4 months old" myth is that the TBPR used to be updated 3-4 months apart and perhaps on the last day before the update it could be that old. I can't be bothered checking when the previous update (before this one) was, but I think the update interval has shortened to 1-2 months apart.

anallawalla




msg:3761589
 9:31 pm on Oct 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

How about old sites with tons of organic inbound links, that get suddenley downgraded from PR 4 to PR 0 ?

"Tons" is the clue. Perhaps they were sitewide links somewhere and that site has removed the links. Perhaps they were forum signatures and old posts have been archived/removed.

If they were tons of unique links from individual sites, it's an algo catching up with a particular linking practice. For example, a thin affiliate site with a thousand IBLs is "probably" a self-initiated linking pattern.

Slowly, Google seems to be catching up with abnormal linking patterns.

g1smd




msg:3761590
 9:46 pm on Oct 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

*** ... for toolbarqueries.google.com. If you are worried, hard-code one of its IP addresses in the hosts file and then compare the two browsers. ***

Does Vista use the HOSTS file in a different way? There is no difference in display whatever IP I use. I can put any IP in there, even 1.2.3.4, and the toolbar carries on showing the same data; some green, some grey.

Robert Charlton




msg:3761601
 9:57 pm on Oct 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

...directory-style pages that are heavy on links and light on other text.

I did a quick follow-up on this, checking pages on sites I'd worked on that fit this description. About half were gray-barred, and these sites had no other gray-bar pages.

Whitey




msg:3761950
 10:56 am on Oct 9, 2008 (gmt 0)


So could the message on this be that the content is considered inadequate ?

moftary




msg:3762712
 8:00 am on Oct 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

Has anyone experienced something like "one level PR passing"?
Where your homepage does pass PR to internal pages, and those internal pages don't pass any PR?

I have seen cases where such phenomena causing inner pages that are not linked from homepage nor externally having graybar.

alika




msg:3785777
 5:23 pm on Nov 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is a great discussion

My information site has been up since 1998, with a lot of original articles. We have stopped accepting article contributions from others about 2-3 years ago. The highest pagerank of the site was PR 7, then went down to PR 6 for several years. The last update the site was down to PR 5 -- and this coincided with a ballooning of the number of duplicate title and description in GWT (mostly because articles have 3-5 pages and we would give all pages the same titles, plus a few inadvertent mistakes in not changing the title of the article). The site was hit during Update Jagger where we lost 80% of traffic when we were freely linking to any sites that will link to us (we removed all links and the site recovered its traffic after 3 months)

Some of our pages have gray toolbar (both in IE and Firefox) -- and what puzzles me is that these are original quality articles. No keyword stuffing, and most do not even have duplicate titles or metatags. These articles don't show up in Google at all even if searching for the exact title. We do have a significant copying problem, where our articles end up in blogs and other websites without our permission.

Traffic from Google is up, though I am worried that

(a) we are not maximizing traffic potential given that some pages are out in Google;
(b) possibility that somewhere down the road traffic to the site will fall.

Any advice? Thanks

This 33 message thread spans 2 pages: 33 ( [1] 2 > >
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