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Massive Drop in PR - Why suddenly penalized?

     
4:13 pm on Dec 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I couldn't help but notice a substantial drop in my Google page rank. It used to be the page rank meter would go almost half way, now it is zero. Recent changes:

* I recently moved to a new web host. I do notice the pages load slower, but it's just the images.
* On a page that was getting a lot of traffic, I updated a poor quality image with a new image that is much better quality. I did not change the file name.

Other than that, the site has remained unchanged for 3 years. When I search my domain name one of my pages is the 5th result down. The first result is a website from China that has completely duplicated my website. When I click the website it doesn't work, but clicking "cached" does show a duplicate of my website. I believe this is also a possible cause, because it has been newly added.

Is it the duplicate website, or one of the other possibilities? I have to admit, this breaks my spirit a little. I feel like I spent a lot of my time building that site and now it is a complete loss.

5:11 pm on Dec 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Same thing happend to and it continues for 2 weeks now. Lost my PR from 5 to 3 on the main page and i lost the pr for my inner pages ( had lots of PR3+ inner pages ). The only thing we have in common is that I also changed hosts 3 or 4 days before this happend..but i doubt that this is the reason..
9:38 pm on Dec 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Hmm, so that is something in common. One thing I can think of is that I do have a link from a different website at the old host to this website. Is it possible they think I am trying to give myself backlinks? The link has always been there.

I was going to move all my websites to the new host, just haven't got to it yet...

10:28 am on Dec 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Who knows..

Maybe someone else has an idea about what's going on ?

10:50 am on Dec 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Have you checked your Webmaster Tools account for information? There are so many possibilities that it's hard to give you anything concrete, but when you search on your domain name (including the extension) it is a very bad sign not to see your domain in the first spot.
2:03 pm on Dec 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like the old "Selling Paid Links PR Smackdown" to me.
3:42 pm on Dec 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Except in this case, there weren't any paid links. I don't even have link exchanges on this site. All the links on my links page are links to well known manufacturers, organizations, and government agencies.

I'm going to submit a letter to Google per instructions at [google.com...] Hopefully that is it. It is very curious that website popped up around the same time this started happening. I did a whois on the domain that duplicated my website and it isn't registered to anybody.

Is there a way I can research the static IP address I have from this new host to see if it is associated with spam sites?

I can't imagine updating an image would bring such a massive penalty. Doesn't Googlebot not even load the images? (I.e. would have no way to see file size)

I did log into Google Dashboard but did not see any problems.

I am monitoring this closely. Today when I do a search on my domain name I am back to #1 and the rogue site is #2. Traffic is resuming for some pages, but not all pages.

6:14 pm on Dec 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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liguidog is sounds to me your site could have been hacked and has been removed due to this. Ted asked have you looked in webmaster tools to see if there is a warning mail on the site.

or

Moving the domin to another host if not done properly will cause this type of crash.

Both of you moved your sites were the recommended steps followed when you changed IP addresses and DNS?

Please let us know what steps were taken when you moved the site.

7:12 pm on Dec 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Steps taken to move to new host:

1. Copied all files over to new host and tested functionality.
2. Logged into Network Solutions and changed DNS settings to point at the new host. (The pages also remained at the old host)
3. Waited 2 weeks and then deleted files from old site.

I logged in to the site manager. There isn't much there as far as messages. It's more a SSH oriented/VPS type account. Based on file date/time stamps no pages have been altered since my last upload on Dec 2. There isn't a shell history file in the home directory which is unusual, but I guess that is how they set it up. I don't see anything funny as far as new databases/users/email/etc having been created. No mail from the web host.

Traffic is now streaming back into the site and I have regained position for all of my "butter" key words. Page rank remains zero. The rogue site has moved to position 6, and their copy of my page that has my site privacy policy no longer shows up in the search results.

It's tempting to think that was it, but I'd be interested to hear feedback on moving the site to a new host. This is the first time I've moved to a new host.

11:13 pm on Dec 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Update: I have found an old whois record for the offending site. It was registered to somebody in Japan. They had specified the nameservers of my new web host. Very interesting. Has anybody seen this before?

Is this a mix up by my web host or something more intentional? The domain was registered in 06-Oct-2008 but is no longer registered.

There are still some of my keywords that come up with this rogue site in my old position, but most are back to being my site.

11:25 pm on Dec 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

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liquiddog, that sounds like your hosting company may have made a mistake and the rogue site was accidentally showing your site because of that mistake. As for the webmaster tools that others have mentioned, they aren't talking about your server's site manager. They mean Google's Webmaster Central Tools (www.google.com/webmasters/tools). If you've been hacked, or Google has crawling issues, etc., the information will be in there. Sign up for it if you haven't already.
2:45 pm on Dec 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

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3. Waited 2 weeks and then deleted files from old site.

It also possibly sounds like a duplicate content penalty which is now correcting itself.

Whenever I move hosts I ensure I delete everything at the old hosts immediately the new site(s) have propagated and I have moved a lot of sites without any "new host" penalty...which is precisely what I am doing to 50 sites today!

3:54 pm on Dec 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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How come this is on the homepage with the "tempter" of Page Rank Updating?! It doesn't look like a widespread or "sporadic" update to me.
4:52 pm on Dec 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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> Logged into Network Solutions and changed DNS settings to point at the new host.

Hmm. I'm online for almost a decade now, with several domains always hosted by larger companies, but I never had access to any DNS-settings. (Never looked for such an option to be honest) This sounds like a serious security-risk to me, if your hosting company allows access to DNS-settings to all their customers. Or am I completely wrong here?

Maybe this thread on proxy-hijacks is of interest:
[webmasterworld.com...]

Dunno whether it is really relevant. As tedster said, there are so many issues that could have caused your drop, beginning with the canonical issue (did you look at your webmaster central console meanwhile) and ending with temporary downsides during the crawl-process. Maybe even googlebot got confused by two different IPs and thus duplicate content in the transition process? (Particulary if a third side scraped your pages).

8:51 pm on Dec 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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but I never had access to any DNS-settings.

I have found almost all major dns /domain companies and allot of the small ones have ways to edit your dns records. Some have more options than others. It is sometimes not clear where to find the pages to edit and sometimes the process doesn't match typical dns requirements since the page does the formatting for you.
1:42 pm on Dec 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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You're right, I found the relevant pages in my account, deeply hidden as they should be. As I said, I never cared for this before.

How could liquiddog find out, whether this part of his configuration has been hacked?

5:03 pm on Dec 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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>>How come this is on the homepage with the "tempter" of Page Rank Updating?! It doesn't look like a widespread or "sporadic" update to me.

that's what got me here too.

5:05 pm on Dec 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Hmm. I'm online for almost a decade now, with several domains always hosted by larger companies, but I never had access to any DNS-settings. (Never looked for such an option to be honest) This sounds like a serious security-risk to me, if your hosting company allows access to DNS-settings to all their customers. Or am I completely wrong here?

If he logged into Network Solutions, sounds like all he did was set his nameservers for the domain to the ones that were provided by his web host.

That's not a security risk. That's standard operating procedure if you're using a registrar that's different from your webhost.

5:41 am on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I just went from 4 to 3.
5:47 am on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I agree with purplekitty. Standard stuff.

Maybe you've lost some good links from sites that have died or gone offline or they've lost some of their juice to you. Besides that I can't think of anything else.

Saying that, I just checked my main site that now has some PR back for the first time in ages. There is something going on with the Toolbar.

[edited by: Pico_Train at 5:52 am (utc) on Dec. 31, 2008]

5:48 am on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I saw a strange pattern today morning with the PR update.

All the top competitors in my niche went to PR 6 irrespective of their earlier PR's. This means site with PR 4, PR 5, PR 7 all moved to PR 6.

Though I know that TBPR does not matters anymore, but this was strange especially when I was expecting that PR 7 site (top competitor) must have moved to PR 8 or so due to its great authority.

9:25 am on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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TBPR increased from 4 to 5 on my main site. Two sites were unexpectedly penalized, from 4 to 0. I have no idea why, since their hat's as white as white can get.
3:15 pm on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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PR 4 to PR 3
3:35 pm on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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My site was also downgraded from TBPR3 to 2. I know no big deal right? But i really liked having the little bit of green i had. The only thing i have been doing lately was trading links with reputable sites in my niche. How the heck could that get me penalized? I mean I only have secured like 4 maybe 5 links that i think are QUALITY links.

The only other thing i can think of is I added a link exchange page. Could that be the culprit? that page has always been there, just blocked by robots.txt. Maybe i need to block it again? But then my link partners lose out. Any ideas guys?

4:40 pm on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm curious... before you guys noticed any TBPR changes, did you notice a drop in traffic? If traffic remains, I wouldn't worry.

BTW, none of my sites changed TBPR, except a new site is now 1.

1:42 pm on Jan 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

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My site just dropped from a 4 to a 2. And I even added around 100 pages of similar solid, unique content two weeks ago.

What's going on?

3:32 pm on Jan 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Is it possible to lose ranking by changing a few images? I obtained some new images (higher quality) and put them in slots on older pages and changed the file name of the images. Would this hurt my rank? Thx.
5:30 pm on Jan 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Boulder, you seem to be confusing Page Rank and rankings. Ranking overall (what your position is on the search results) uses PR as one of many factors, probably over 200. Page Rank depends only on links from other pages, and that's what this thread is discussing.
5:41 pm on Jan 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

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from PR 3 to 0 and dropped from index. What has happened. We are 4 eyars old and never had any troubles. This is hurtting us badly
6:05 pm on Jan 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

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My site dropped from PR2 to PR0, but traffic had been steady increasing since last month, and still increasing.... so, I suppose I shouldn't care.
Actually Dec 29, the date of this thread had been the day with the highest traffic ever for this recently pagerank zeroed website!
This 42 message thread spans 2 pages: 42