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May 7, 2011

How To Stop Your Google Page Rank From Going To Zero

While nowadays I don’t believe in PageRank as much as I used to, I can’t help but judge a site’s popularity by it.

Whether I’m thinking of it’s reputation or whether I want to buy a link, in the end PageRank does affect me. The thing though, is that it’s not far from the truth.

When I see a good PageRank on a site’s main page, I’m sure that either the site’s content quality is very good, therefore getting lots of links and attention, or the site’s creator is trying to increase popularity by constantly getting new links. Either way, these are great indications that a site is still active and it would be a good resource for me to look at.

There are also times that PageRank is misleading. For example:
  • A new page having 0 PageRank because it just started out. PageRank usually updates every three months, so even if a page has amazing content and gets lots of links, it will display as unranked (or 0 PageRank ) until a new update occurs.
  • A webmaster pays zero attention to the content but is gathering links non-stop.
  • A big company spends great sums of money for the promotion of their domains.
Again, whatever the case, a healthy PageRank is a good indication. But what happens if we have a good PageRank on our main page and the new update shoots us back to 0?

Here are a few scenarios of what might have happened and what you can do to change it.

A Change in Site Structure :-

If we change CMS or some settings on our current system, our main page might change. The same will happen if we change our domain name. For example could become Therefore, Google treats it as a different page even though it’s actually the same one. 

What we can do is give it a 301 Redirect back to the page we want. (I plan on writing an article about redirects, but if you’re in a hurry please do search google for it.) With a permanent redirect, all links will point to the page of your choice, making your rebuild PageRank soon.

An Aggressive Link Building Strategy :-

When we’re gathering links for our site, sometimes we might get so aggressive that Google has to penalise us for it. This doesn’t happen often, but I’ve seen it quite some times. When it does happen, most of the times the page promoted got de-indexed until someone from Google reviewed it manually. 

If the content of the page is useful and helps readers, Google will let you get away with it. Otherwise, who knows!? The best thing to do is to stop with the aggressive link building and focus more on content; at least until things better point to where they’re going. If nothing changes, register the website with Webmaster Tools and ask for a re-inclusion.

Completely Wrong Navigation :-

It’s only happened to me once, but I got de-indexed for having completely wrong navigation for my site and, as you can imagine, got a PageRank of 0 at the same time. The site was a YouTube Aggregator and had about 1500 video categories so visitors could easily find interesting things to watch. 

The problem was that we had 15 main categories and dozens of subcategories hidden with ajax and yet still the search engines were able to see them. Imagine every page of your site giving links to 1500 other pages… A complete mess. So it was de-indexed. In this case you can fix your navigation and ask for reinclusion at the Google Webmaster Tools.

An Aggregator Site that Does Nothing Useful :-

Aggregator sites are amazing. They help us find information easily and categorize it all for easy “consumption”. But the purpose of aggregation is to help the visitor gather lots of information from many sites all into one page. 

For example, a lyrics site could have video, lyrics, band bio, upcoming shows etc. all in one page. If we created a site that just takes all the new YouTube videos and re-posts them, creating thousands of new pages, no matter how many links we would gather, sooner or later the PageRank will go to zero because zero is what we’re offering to our visitors.

Selling Links to other WebSites :-

This is the most common penalty a website can get. Google doesn’t want a website owner selling links to improve the site’s PageRank value because this is “gaming” their system. 
In this case, the site doesn’t getting de-indexed from google, and visiting from the search engine doesn’t change, but the PageRank does go back to 0.

So if you were selling many links on your website and it got PageRank 0, that might be the case; google saying ‘let me see you sell links now!’ :P You might say: “And who the heck is Google to decide what I can and can’t do on my site?“.

The truth is that Google is just a web service. A website like yours. And if you want google to “Feature” you, you have to play by their rules. It’s as simple as that! Google doesn’t force anyone to do anything, but everyone wants a piece of the Google action.

 If we want their traffic, we have to adjust to their requirements. If we want to sell an ad to someone, we can make the link either a ‘no-follow link’ or a javascript link. Both links are OK with Google. They don’t pass value to the other website, only to visitors, so everything’s OK.

Participating in Web-Rings :-

This is an old practice but it’s still being used. Web-rings is when a handful of sites are giving links to one another so they can create a ring between them, achieving better ranks. If the ring is between 3-5 sites things should be OK, but if the ring becomes a huge one, Google will penalise it. 

If that’s the case, remove the ring links, inform the other webmasters to remove them too and then submit your website on webmaster tools and file for re-inclusion.

Getting Hacked Without You Knowing it :-

Another very common cause of PageRank dropping down to 0 is if someone hacks your site, adding invisible links to your page and getting your site penalised for “link cloaking“. To see if you’ve had any suspicious links injected, go to your main page and view it’s source very carefully, try spotting any strange links. 

If you’ve been hacked, hire a professional to clean and secure your site (if you can’t do it alone) and wait for a bit. Usually the PageRank will finally go back to normal automatically.

Using Black-Hat Techniques :-

Using “sneaky” ways to rank your website, hiding links and “stuffing” keywords into comments, etc. will finally get your site penalised. Don’t know what to say about this, you already knew exactly what you were doing, so you shouldn’t be surprised when your PageRank sinks to 0!

Your PageRank was Low in the First Place :-

There are many times that webmasters don’t update a website and aren’t really involved in it at all. It’s normal for a low PageRank site to go back to zero. This is because 99% of the links were probably from social networks and so after a year or so they disappear or move back to page 1,257 or so. 

When abandoned, I have seen sites go from PageRank 5 to PageRank 2 very fast. So, if your website had a PageRank of three or less, perhaps this is the case. Roll up your sleeves and get working! If you are involved in your website and you involve your readers with quality content, your PageRank should slowly move on up.

PageRank is very, very complicated and that’s because people are trying to take advantage of Google’s Algorythm. If you’ve never got a penalty, be glad about it! If you have been hit with the “Google Slap”, I feel you! Turn the page and make things right again.

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