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The basic story:
Our web site is the name of our company - which has two words in it. We have both the hyphenated and non-hyphenated versions. Both of them used to display similar (mirrored) content. Most of the google results pointed to the hyphenated name since it had been around for a really long time. Most of the links on our site were hard coded links that referenced the non-hyphenated domain so that all visitors would eventually move over to that domain. Recently, our web host changed our domain setups and began a 301 redirect from the hyphenated domain to the non-hyphenated domain.
We had eventually talked about doing that, but hadn't expected it to happen so soon.
As a result of the 301 redirect, google is beginning to drop the hyphenated domain from the SERP's and is beginning to pick up the non-hyphenated name much more (which makes sense).
HOWEVER - this is the crazy part, if I manually type in our web address and display/refresh the page, we have a PR of 5 (which is reasonable based upon the size of our site and the incoming links). If I search for the keywords that most people use to find our site (which we fell from #3 to #17, then up to #10), and then click from the google SERP's to our page, it shows a greyed out PR.
If I click through that same keyphrase search on Yahoo to our site, it shows the PR of 5. It's only when I click through from google that shows a greyed out PR.
How in the world can a google click through effect the displayed PR value on a site?
I'm inclined to think it's some sort of fluke/quasi-penalty that is hanging around due to google watching our two "mirrored" domains - a safegaurd it had in place to avoid both our domains placing in the SERP's.
Does my inclination sound correct? And, will it "fix" itself over the next few weeks?
Good idea. I checked and that is not the case in this instance.
I pasted the exact result from google into a new browser (it was non-hyphenated.com/ ) it came up with a PR5... I also again clicked through the google result and it comes up with gray PR.
The crazy thing is that this IS effecting our placement in the SERP's. We are being treated as if we are gray PR. The reason I know this is because:
When I search for our company name (which is our domain name), the results are:
#1 - a secondary site we run with a completely different URL and different content
#2 - some low ranking sub page informational/text page on a different site with no inbound links to it
#3 - our site non-hyphenated site
Our company name search has ALWAYS (in the past) pulled up our site as #1 - so, google is actually treating our site as if it is gray PR - but the toolbar displays the PR5...
Thanks for the information.
<The toolbr is very buugy and I don't really rely on it>
What has been very confusing about this is the toolbar only shows gray PR when I click a google SERP to visit my site. If I simply go to my site OR visit it from another search engine, it shows regular PR. Perhaps google thinks the PR for my site is supposed to be gray and the only one that is accurate is the google click-thru?
<Oh and try to get more backlinks with your new domain name that should help. also contact any link partners that you have and tell them to change your link to the new domain just to be safe>
We'll continue doing this. Previously, both domains were mirrored - and sometimes a subpage would show up with our hyphenated spelling, sometimes on the newer, non-hyphenated spelling domain. Since we are now using a 301 redirect from the hyphen to the non, my understanding is that all the old links should count towards the new. However, we are checking with some of our link partners to have them update...
Thanks for your help.
What has been very confusing about this is the toolbar only shows gray PR when I click a google SERP to visit my site.
Just a glitch I think. The PR is still there. Click from Google SERP to your site, then control-n a new window and watch your site load again. Voila - PageRank.
Although now that I think about it - all this does is replicate returning to the page from a bookmark or another site, not Google, which is why the PR shows. So I guess your question stands.
Guess this may just be another way of causing the page to reload.