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The Grey Bar PR0 Phenomenon

8:33 am on Apr 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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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.


12:17 pm on Nov 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Just like everyone else on here I'm also experienceing the Grey Bar effect. We have a solid PR5 home page and the majority of our pages that link directly from it are getting ranked, but a sizable number of pages are showing this grey bar - Google seems ot be keeping pretty silent on this matter.
I haven't tried to optimise these pages at all yet, but they're still ranking fairly highly (page 2) for some fairly competitive phrases. I'll post results on here when I expect to start getting soe positive reults form my seo and let you know if the results are as good as should be expecvted if the pages were non grey bar...

10:11 am on Dec 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I am starting to wonder if any site doesn't have this problem. Every site I come across seems to.
5:11 am on Dec 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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...I'm convinced that some degree of keyword co-occurrence is playing into this....

Some of the list-type pages where I'm seeing this have entries that are semantically related, but most do not. They resemble directories only in that they have a bunch of short listings on them, not always on the same "topic."

Some are "most recent" listings... some are membership lists... some list contributors to the July 4th picnic.

10:00 am on Dec 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The grey bar is Google's way of saying 'this page is not important' either generally or within the site.

Likely causes:

- Newness;
- Lack of backlinks (internal, external) and/or
- [A ploy to frustrate directory link sellers]
- Being a directory or shopping cart page:

Short item description,
Short item description,
Hyperlink etc.

Google seems to prefer:
- Articles (300 words or more) with backlinks.

It wants substantial pages. Would it be fair to say a lot of people on here want to feed it 'lite' shopping cart and directory-style pages instead?

Nice for you, as these can be autogenerated, maybe not so useful for Google users.

2:56 pm on Dec 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I have two important pages in my site that are experiencing the gray bar syndrome. One is the page that lists the latest updates to the site. It has links to new content, or old content that's been significantly updated, along with a brief description of the page. There is also a news feed, shopping links, etc. I have a few visitors who use it as their home page.

The other is my main contents page, which provides links to all the major sections of the site. At the bottom of this page is a site directory, which duplicates some of the links that are listed above, as well as provides more links to subpages.

Both of these pages used to hold the same PR as my home page, which used to be a PR6, but is now a PR3. The PR dropped when others reported an overall drop in PR rankings as well. The consensus at the time seemed to be that this wasn't a reflection on any particular site, but reflected overall growth on the internet. (More sites, more pages = less page rank overall.) I have no idea if that is indeed true.

What concerns me most is since these pages are heavily linked to from other pages in the site - and always have been - because they are the main pages that allow visitors to navigate to another section of the site, they are pretty important. The fact that my updates page is gray barred also might indicate why new content is slow to show up in Google (often takes a month), yet it shows up in a day or two in Yahoo and Live.

The internal anchor text for these pages describes what they are: "Main Contents" and "Updates."

Would adding rel="nofollow" to external links on these pages help them?

They do not show up in Webmaster Tools as pages with internal links, yet they actually have more internal links than any other page in my site, except for the home page.

Any ideas?

[edited by: AndyA at 2:58 pm (utc) on Dec. 13, 2008]

4:38 pm on Dec 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

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It does certainly seem to be based on the quality of the page, but its making me nuts. I've been fighting this on some sitemap and category menu-type pages on a couple of my sites. The first common factor is obvious - a page consisting largely of links with fairly little descriptive text or other content. Its the sort of thing a search engine might do to devalue link exchange pages, but its so broad that its impacting useful pages by impeding the flow of PageRank within the site itself. If Google wants to encourage us to provide HTML sitemaps and other clear navigation for users, this isn't helping.

I had a small directory of scripts that was years old go gray bar about a year ago now. I wasn't particularly proud of the content and the pages had just about every mistake a new webmaster might make - lots of invalid HTML, poor <title>s and Description <meta> tags, boilerplate promotional text and links to my services, a section of <frame>d pages, PayPal payment links, etc. So, I did a pretty thorough clean-up and optimization on this directory, and a couple of the internal pages recovered PageRank. The only reason I can see for the differentiation is that most - and maybe all - of the pages that recovered had at least one decent link from a site I have no relationship with. And the pages that recovered are getting a level of traffic now that's appropriate for the current PageRank and content. But if I could get the directory's index page to recover, it should improve substantially.

On a different site where its archives directory got gray-barred, I focused on adding unique text to the category/navigation pages, improving the content and uniqueness of the <meta> Descriptions on every page in the directory, and making them all squeaky-clean in terms of valid code. This had no effect on the gray bar, but the internal pages with the actual content started to get a very small trickle of traffic.

5:44 pm on Dec 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

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You shouldn't spend too much time worrying about this. I've checked backlinks to my site, and some of those the Google 'site:' command shows are on grey-barred pages.

So I'd say Google still rates those pages.

Chasing a semi-arbitrary 'check mark' from another company may be wasting valuable creative time.

If you just want to sell links, and Google won't oblige you by giving you the ol' green bar to encourage your customers, then I think 'ha ha ha' is a fair response.

8:55 pm on Dec 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

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we have some grayed out pages that alternate between grey and pr4 every couple of weeks or so and rank just fine all the time.

sure its just a screen so you cant see the full picture.

12:12 am on Dec 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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- [A ploy to frustrate directory link sellers]

that's it imo

7:04 pm on Dec 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I can acknowledge a few facts here:

1. There is nothing to do between rank in SERPs (or a certain penalty) and the greyed-barred pages, as you can simply find grey-barred pages that rank top while searching for non competitive search terms.

2. All pages that are not listed under pages with internal links in GWT are grey-barred.

3. This has nothing to do with directories, link selling, adwords, etc.. We have seen this phenomenon everywhere where the previous factors don't apply.

4. TBPR is real-time in some cases. Some pages fluctuate between white and grey. You can start a new site and it will be grey and once indexed it will go white. You can even 301 redirect from a green-barred page to a new one and find out that the new page went green. This is all of course without a TBPR update or anything.


1:00 pm on Jan 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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< moved from another location >

Hi All,

I noticed many times on many websites, that all pages linked from the homepage have some PR received from it - all except links.html page - it always has grey PR.

This page just ignored by Google, has low rank value or can harm rankings?

Thank you.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:32 pm (utc) on Jan. 8, 2009]

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