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Why Is My Site's Google PageRank Now 0?

SEO / traffic-building questions and answers


Why is my site's Google PageRank now 0? It had been at PR5 for over a year, but since the last update it's been at PR0 and my traffic has dropped by a factor of 10. Please help me figure this out. Thanks.

Submitted by Janice L.


Without knowing the specifics of your site (you didn't provide the URL), I can only give you a general overview of some of the things that can lead to a Google PR0 (no PageRank) penalty.

First of all, is every page on your site at PR0, just one of them, or some but not all? Answering this question can help you find the cause of the penalty.

Most penalties are levied against the specific page that has the infraction on it. Of course, the penalty can migrate to other pages as well depending on the linking structure and other factors. For instance, if the home page incurs a PR0 penalty, the rest of your pages may "inherit" it if they don't have any inbound links of their own to draw PR from.

If Google has stripped the PageRank from only one page as often happens, examine that page to try to determine what caused it. Here are a few things to look for:

  • Links to another page (on another site) that has been penalized. If you mistakenly (or even intentionally) linked to a "link farm" the page with that link on it will likely incur a penalty.

    Click all of the external links on the page to see if they lead you to another PR0 page somewhere. If you find one that does, remove the link and your page's PR will likely be restored after a couple of Google update cycles.
  • Does the penalized page have any text or links on it that are hidden or almost the same color as the background? Is there a block of text that is so small that it's extremely difficult to read it?

    Hidden (or almost hidden) text and links are a big no-no with Google.

    One thing to be careful about when making changes to your web pages is accidentally leaving part of a link in the HTML code but nothing showing to indicate that the link still exists.

    This happens all to frequently when using WYSIWYG HTML editors. You highlight a link and click delete. It looks like the link is gone, but part of it is still there in the HTML code. These instances are easy to find by carefully scrutinizing the HTML code of the page.
  • Keyword stuffing - If you cram keywords in every nook and cranny of your pages, you'll likely be penalized. Good, descriptive <ALT> text for your images is not only acceptable, but actually encouraged. But stuffing the <ALT> attributes with 200 keywords is asking for trouble.

    A few webmasters will enclose the entire page in <H1> tags. Again, this makes your page ripe for a Google PageRank penalty.
  • Cloaking - This is using a sneaky redirect to deliver a different page to a web browser than the one a search engine robot would see.

    This is sometimes done to deliver a keyword rich, very well search engine optimized page to the search engines while providing a different page that is made to appeal more to human visitors. In other words, trying to fool the search engine robots. This is another big no-no.
  • Cross-linking - If your entire site is sitting at PR0, one possibility is a cross-linking penalty. Sometimes a webmaster who controls two or more websites will place links from every page of one website to every page of the other sites to increase the PageRank of all the sites. If detected, this will quickly incur a penalty if not an outright ban from the Google index.
These are just a few of the most common things that can cause a web page to incur a Google PageRank penalty. There are many others as well. Remember that as a general rule, any legitimate SEO tactic can be interpreted as search engine spam by Google if it is taken to an extreme (like the <H1> example cited above). Good luck with finding the problem!
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