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Reasons Why Google Toolbar PageRank Would Drop, According to Google

Toolbar PageRank Info "Not Unreliable" Says Matt Cutts

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Google’s Matt Cutts posted one of his webmaster help videos discussing Google Toolbar PageRank, why it’s only updated a few times a year, and why webmasters might see their PageRank drop. He also talks about how to get back in Google’s good graces if this happened because you were selling links.

Typically in these videos, Cutts is responding to a user-submitted question, and that is the case here. The question was: “I use the Google Toolbar to monitor PageRank. I read on the Internet that it gives old and quite unreliable data. Can I have reliable realtime PageRank information about the sites I administer? And how can I idenity causes of a PageRank drop?”

“The information that you get from the Google Toolbar is updated about 3 or 4 times a year, and the reason we don’t provide it every single day is because we don’t want webmasters to get obsessed with the green in the Google Toolbar, and not pay the attention that should be spent on titles and accessibility, and good content, and all those kinds of things,” says Cutts. “A lot of people, if you show them just the PageRank and update it every day, they’re just going to focus on that. So we didn’t want that kind of obsession or backlink obsession to take hold where people would only pay attention to the PageRank in the toolbar.”

This is not the first time we’ve seen Google de-emphasize the need for webmasters to focus on PageRank. Ultimately, while it may be a strong signal used by Google in determining search result ranking, there are over 200 other ones, and the formula changes every single day. Social and location factors have certainly played bigger roles in recent memory. You can bet that Google’s +1s are going to continue to play a strong role.

“The question that it’s ‘quite unreliable’ – it’s not unreliable, it’s just rounded to a zero to ten sort of scale, so there’s nothing unreliable about that necessarily,” says Cutts.

“Then, the question of ‘how can I identify the causes of a PageRank drop’ – well, if the only PageRank that you had, for example, was from one very reputable link, and that site stopped linking to you, that could lead to a drop in PageRank,” he continues. “If you’ve done something really weird with your internal linking, and you canonicalization is very strange, so we don’t know – maybe there’s a completely different site on www vs non-www – so you know, those kinds of canonicalization issues, that can also lead to a PageRank drop.”

“But one of the most common reasons we see for a PageRank drop, at least in the Google Toolbar, is if a site is selling links, and so if your PageRank dropped 30% all of a sudden, and you were selling links that passed PageRank, the reason for that is selling links that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines,” he says. “And if you think about it, it’s a pretty understandable thing. It’s a lot like payola, in the sense that you pay somebody money and that you get a mention, and it’s not adequately disclosed to the search engine. If some site is doing that, that can account for a drop in the Toolbar PageRank.”

“So if that’s what might have happened, all you have to do is remove the links that you were selling, and then do a reconsideration request, and say, ‘Hey, I was selling links, they passed PageRank, I saw my PageRank dropped, and so I’ve removed those links, you can verify it, and please let me regain my trust with Google.’ And so if we see that things look good, and it looks like there’s a good faith effort there, and we’re reasonably convinced the selling of PageRank won’t happen again for example, then often times your PageRank will return.”

You can find the reconsideration request form here.

Reasons Why Google Toolbar PageRank Would Drop, According to Google


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  • http://bernav.com Shayen

    You ‘re right Google’s +1s are going to continue to play a strong role, more than social media.. But that is to bad to know changing from www to non www effect website page rank :(

  • http://www.cnx-software.com SymS

    “you were selling links that passed PageRank”.

    So does that means that OK for webmasters to sell links that do not pass Pagerank (like with a nofollow) ?

    • Matthew Anderson

      SymS. That is exactly correct: Selling links on your website has nothing to do with Google. Selling links for advertising that DO pass pagerank is allowed too. It is selling them for the purpose of passing pagerank only that is against Googles T&C.

      If I run a Business For Sale site it is of course perfectly OK for me to sell a text or graphic advert leading to a Business For Sale so that they can convert a visitor to a sale. If however I sold a text or graphic advert for Plumbing Systems for the purpose of passing Page Rank to a plumbing systems website then that would be a nono

  • http://www.CaptainCyberzone.com CaptainCyberzone

    … “it’s not that the information is unreliable …”
    It’s just that it’s a little old … maybe 3, 4 months … but hey, concentrate on the other things … in 3 or 4 months you’ll know if you’re on the right track … if not, hey, keep trying … in 3 or 4 more months … check back again.

  • http://www.ebusinessgems.com ebusiness-resources

    While rounding the PageRank to a zero to 10 scale is not necessarily unreliable, it is often painful not being able to know how a site is improving in terms of it’s search engine optimization efforts. The logic behind updating of Google toolbar 3 to 4 times a year is understandable but in any case webmaster’s are always bogged down to checking their sites performance every single day. It would have been rather nice if they were able to follow up their progress more frequently.

  • http://mymarriagewebsite.com Indian Shaadi

    So does this mean all that Web Directories that sell Submission backlinks will suddenly see a drop in their PR ranking?

    Does a site get penalized for having submissions in such directories.

  • http://www.loriflame.lv igors

    Could you please clear what does it mean: sell links that do not pass Pagerank.
    and what about www or non www page adress

    For long time i had page rank 5. Today it changed to 0. In last few weeks i joined to seling liks programm and also i set up a redirect from www to just loriflame.lv in httacess file. Because google page speed asked.

    So i canot understand what i did wrong. because 8 liks i stored only in first page of website and they are just simple new website liks, like PVC windows, language courses, seoportals and accounting.

    Is this crime?

  • http://www.labellami.com Facials Jacksonville

    very interesting thanks for the insight :)

  • http://bricetaxiforhire.com unelera. brice

    Google do good jobs for us thank you Google for your business. Brice taxiservece Orlando fl

  • http://fusionistar.com Fusionista

    It’s just a pity that webmaster usually has no clue most of the time as to what happened to their site. The see they’re being penalised and watch their pagerank drop, or even see google de-indexed a lot of their pages but they have no clue of what they did wrong. It’s all about one guess work to another. And then hoping one is not doing something wrong.

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