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The little blue bar indicating 'PageRank not yet assigned' (Crawl Stats in Webmaster Tools) jumped significantly earlier and now suggests that roughly half of our web pages are not yet ranked. What’s more, today, the site links (Links Webmasters Tools) showing until yesterday have disappeared.
A bit of history:
Prior to yesterday the blue bar showing 'PageRank not yet assigned' was a mere smidgen.
The Google Sitemap is not showing any errors of any sort nor are there any errors in Webmaster Tools.
We do not release new content in large batches. We add a few new pages each week.
We have not made any structural changes to the site in the past 6 weeks. (We implemented a few ajax solutions in late November but nothing since.)
First, we are not obsessed with pagerank but rather trying to interpret a message google appears to be communicating. We would be equally interested in resolving a potential problem appearing in any of the other webmaster tools.
Second, we crawl our site regularly with Xenu link sleuth. To play it safe, we ran it again today and the links are functioning properly.
Third, we have over 5,000 inbound links to our site and several of our internal pages have in excess of 50. The number of links both to the home page as well the internal pages continues to increase. Our link building program is organic. We do not have paid text links on our site nor do we participate in link farming or other paid link exchange programs. The webmaster tool ‘Pages with Internal Links’ accurately reflects our situation.
Fourth, We have not noticed a drop in keyword rank for either principle or page specific keywords. Per the tool ‘Top search queries’ our keywords are stable over the short-term (one, two week) and improving over the long-term (3-6 month). Thus if you sum points 2 and 3 we do not think that our existing pages have been devalued.
Fifth, we are in the process of converting our site from html to xhtml. While our site isn’t fully w3c compliant (neither is google, 50+ errors on the homepage, nor the nytimes, 400+ errors on the homepage, by the way) the number of errors declines with each section that is converted to xhtml. Since mid-December, conversion initiated, the number of errors has declined significantly. Thus we do not believe that validation errors have contributed to the pop in ‘PageRank not yet assigned’.
Sixthly, about 6 months ago we noticed a pop in the bar ‘PageRank not yet assigned’. When we resolved an error in our 302 redirects the blue in the ‘PageRank not yet assigned’ bar disappeared in just 2 days. While no one has confirmed our suspiscion that ‘PageRank not assigned’ can be a surrogate for errors we strongly believe this to be the case. What’s more we are convinced this tools, unlike the blue bar in an internet browser, shows a sites current situation.
What error has google found that we have not? Any suggestions for finding the needle in the haystack?
I'm not sure that you can assume it means there are errors on your part. Since PR is defined by links alone, I can see how errors in redirects, url rewriting, or technical mistakes right in the anchor tags might cause trouble assigning PR - but not just "any old" error.
I had not paid any attention to the color of the bar and thus missed the change in some of our pages. Is this a penalty? I don’t sell links. Nor do I participate in the any other black hat practices.
Here’s what I can tell you about the pages showing grey bar pr. The grey bar is affecting only one of three sections of the site. Within this section 30% of our index pages (listing all of the articles in a given category) and about 5% of the underlying content pages have a grey bar. The grey bar pr for the articles is affecting roughly half of the content sourced from third parties. Not only is the author properly credited in all of the articles, in most cases the content was written specifically for our site part and does not appear elsewhere on the web. Some of the pages with grey bar pr have backlinks others do not. None of the pages affected are new. All have been on the site for at least 6 months and some are 2 years old and all had a white bar with some level of pr before. They do not differ in any way from the ranked index pages and articles or the other sections of our website. All of the pages with grey bar pr are indexed in google and our index pages are showing in page 1 as they always have!
[edited by: Marfola at 12:57 pm (utc) on Feb. 4, 2008]
But the OPs comment taht maybe Google is trying to say something with a grey PR is still a niggling worry. My pages are technically rubbish, and probably 100% non-compliant. But that really doesn't seem to be a factor as far as I can tell.
It's irritating I know, but if your SERPS are OK I really wouldn't worry. If enough of us post along those lines Google will eventually give up and Matt Cutts will be forced to explain it in terms we can all understand!
Great sites and no common factors as to why they would both suffer a penalty but not the main domain.
I'll just keep watching but it's the wierdest it's been for a long time.
PR reductions can also indicate suspicion that you are selling links - that's been a Google strategy in recent months.