Why does my Google PageRank = 0?
November 8, 2005 10:14 PM   Subscribe

Why does my website have a zero PageRank when its traffic and search placement would suggest otherwise -- at least an actual number?

This has been the case for as long as it's been up. It's not too horribly popular, but its gotten a number of links from external sites, including digg.com and screenhead.com (Gawker). Last month my overall traffic was over 11,000 unique visitors, which again, isn't a lot, but surely gets me more than a zero. Even my portfolio site has a 1, and hardly anything links to it anywhere, plus there's almost no text to generate any search results. Could I have been banned? Are blogs banned in general? I've searched a couple that I regularly read and they return a result, so maybe they know something I don't ... something someone here does?
posted by jruckman to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
0 overall PageRank doesn't mean you won't show up in searches. It's an evaluation of how "popular" your site is, as a whole, when compared against other PageRanked sites.

PageRank also doesn't single-handedly determine where your site shows up in the searches it's in. If Google "thinks" your site is about the search given, and others aren't, you'll move up. (Where "thinks" means, "can determine from links to your page, linguistic and text analysis, query analysis, etc") For example, if it's a multiword search, and your page is the only one to have all the words, you'll most likely show up first.

In short: PageRank is important, but other things come into it.
posted by maschnitz at 10:48 PM on November 8, 2005


PageRank primer.
posted by dhartung at 12:12 AM on November 9, 2005


first of all, 50ish clicks from mefi users is not going to do a damn thing for my rankings. my traffic is low -- but not that low. i posted links in case anyone wanted to look at my source code.

second, i can't read that primer dhartung, it's for registered (and paid) users only.
posted by jruckman at 12:33 AM on November 9, 2005


maschnitz: thanks -- although i'm not as concerned with how important PageRank is as i am why i have a zero when i should seemingly have more. it makes me wonder if whatever the source of the hypothetical problem is could be causing other problems as well.
posted by jruckman at 12:37 AM on November 9, 2005


Google don't update their public PageRank statistics any more do they?
posted by alexst at 1:06 AM on November 9, 2005


first of all, 50ish clicks from mefi users is not going to do a damn thing for my rankings.

PageRank doesn't work based on clicks. It works based on which sites link to you. In this case, Ask MetaFilter.
posted by grouse at 1:17 AM on November 9, 2005


jruckman-the phrase you're looking for is "sandbox". You're still in the sandbox. Read about it on search engine optimization websites. It takes Google a while to let you out of the sandbox and assign you a pagerank.

cadastral-respectfully speaking, in my opinion that was completely uncalled-for.
posted by evariste at 1:18 AM on November 9, 2005


How old is the site? Generally a site will have a PR 0 for a few months until Google does a PR update. I launched a site in August which had a PR 0 until last week, and now it has a PR 7, yet was ranking well before the rank changed on the bar. The rank on the bar != true PageRank.
posted by wackybrit at 3:27 AM on November 9, 2005


evariste: being in the sandbox is a possibility, but I have had content in some form or another for a year already, and an actively updated blog since june. plus, my portfolio site, which has been up for equally as long but updated and accessed far less, has a 1/10 -- so it seems to be something specific to my other site.
posted by jruckman at 3:32 AM on November 9, 2005


wackybrit, see above
posted by jruckman at 3:33 AM on November 9, 2005


[removed one link to website in post, jruckman please put your URL in your profile instead of in an AskMe link]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:28 AM on November 9, 2005


If you've had links on digg and whatever that Gawker site is, I'm surprised. I had credit linkbacks on Slashdot and Boing Boing, and my political blogger friend linked to me once or twice, and my PageRank was 5 or 6 for awhile. And I write my blog for like, fifteen people. :)
posted by danb at 6:41 AM on November 9, 2005


try putting on some google text ads...
posted by delmoi at 7:33 AM on November 9, 2005


jessamyn, i'll know for the future

danb, me too

delmoi, i don't want to put ads on my site, at least not until its getting substantially more traffic

anyone else know why this could be happening?
posted by jruckman at 7:44 AM on November 9, 2005


The "What links here" results on Google are a bit odd: dozens of links from nearly-identically-named pages on cssreboot.com, plus links within your site itself. I see on cssreboot.com's own pages that there are nearly 1000 members, which means nearly 1000 similarly-named pages on that site all link to your site, and not much else. That might raise some red flags for the pagerank algorithm.

Yahoo's Site Explorer -- a lot more useful for "What links here?" than Google, IMO -- shows only about 200 inlinks. My own personal site (pagerank of 5, was 6 before the recent Google update) shows about 2000 inlinks; our corporate site at work (pagerank 7, consistently) gets about 10,000 inlinks.

Alexa (skewed sample, since it's from their toolbar, but still useful) shows no inlinks to the site.

The combination of a potential red flag from the cssreboot inlinks plus not a whole lot of visible links in from three different providers' perspectives could explain why things are low.

Any single link, from digg or wherever, aren't going to have a lot of effect on your pagerank. It's all cumulative. (At times I think the only reason that my own website gets so much traffic is that I was a prolific mailing list poster and always had my URL in my mail signature.)
posted by mendel at 8:42 AM on November 9, 2005


I noticed a couple of other odd things:
  • Google has a cached copy of www.centripetalnotion.com, but not centripetalnotion.com. Not having a cached copy when you're not forbidding Google from caching it is a sign of either being in the hole, or being impenetrable by googlebot -- where it knows that sites link to you, but it can't figure out what's on your site.
  • Your robots metatag is missing a space between name="robots" and content="index,nofollow". You may just be confusing the googlebot.
  • While you're fixing things, put the meta tags down inside <head></head>, put your doctype on the first line of the file, and get rid of that open <a> that's on the line above your doctype -- any of that, but especially the meta tags and doctype in the wrong place, could throw a robot for a loop.

posted by mendel at 8:49 AM on November 9, 2005


mendel:
  • meta tags are new since yesterday, but i'll look them over
  • the CSS Reboot links are new since the beginning of this month, but I've haven't cleared zero since a year ago
  • the relatively small number of links would be a good explination, were my portfolio site (jruckman.com) not getting ranked as well. even it's got a 1/10 though, and nothing links to it, save a couple account profile pages. i've got them both redirecting http://www.domain to http://domain, so again, what is affecting one should be affecting the other.
i've got to get to class, but i'll play with my meta tags when i get back
posted by jruckman at 1:01 PM on November 9, 2005


wait wait -- i've got it!?

when i first registered centripetalnotion and activated my hosting plan, someone snuck in an AIM virus to one of my folders, and i even got a few emais to various prefixes@centripetalnotion.com yelling at me that I'd screwed up their AIM. I found it and deleted it, obviously, and changed my password to something much more secure -- but perhaps that is having a lingering effect on my ranking?

i wonder if i could ask google?
posted by jruckman at 1:06 PM on November 9, 2005


as in a support tech, not the engine
posted by jruckman at 1:06 PM on November 9, 2005


There are a number of potential problems that may be causing a lack of pagerank showing for the site.

I don't think that there's a penalty involved. A number of the monthly archives pages are showing pagerank in the Google toolbar.

second, i can't read that primer dhartung, it's for registered (and paid) users only.

Registered maybe, but you don't need to be a paid member of the forum to read that thread. I'm registered there, but not paid, and I can see it.


Google don't update their public PageRank statistics any more do they?

In the last year or two, they've been updating what shows for pagerank on the toolbar about once every three months, though sometimes it will change.

jruckman-the phrase you're looking for is "sandbox". You're still in the sandbox. Read about it on search engine optimization websites. It takes Google a while to let you out of the sandbox and assign you a pagerank.

The "sandbox" is a separate issue from pagerank, and it's not what Google engineers call the phenomenon either. But, pagerank will show whether or not a site is ranking for competitive terms the way sites that are in this hypothetical "sandbox" fail to do.

dozens of links from nearly-identically-named pages on cssreboot.com, plus links within your site itself.

The standard rule for whether or not links from another site pointing to your site can harm your site in Google has, for a long time, been that they couldn't. But, that may be changing. A couple of new papers on the Stanford Database Recently Submitted Publications list talk about methods of identifying spam links, and ways to devalue pagerank when a site is linked to by link farms.

link spam alliances

Link Spam Detection Based on Mass Estimation

Taking a quick look at the links that are pointing towards your pages, the cssreboot.com pages are a little problematic, but I don't think that they fall into the category here of being something that Google might consider to be a link farm. And even if they are, the presence of those links would likely devalue pagerank, and not take it away completely, if Google has adopted something similar to the things described in those papers.

My own personal site (pagerank of 5, was 6 before the recent Google update) shows about 2000 inlinks; our corporate site at work (pagerank 7, consistently) gets about 10,000 inlinks.

The number of links is really a nonfactor when it comes to pagerank. A single link from a pagerank 10 site like google is probably worth tens or hundreds of thousands of links from pagerank 1, 2, and 3 sites.

Google has a cached copy of www.centripetalnotion.com, but not centripetalnotion.com.

I'm seeing a cached copy for the site without the "www" and Google appears to have decided that the address without the www is the canonical URL. Having a site able to resolve at both alias addresses (with and without the www) runs some other potential risks. See the section on "Precautions against being hijacked" on this page:

Page Hijack: The 302 Exploit, Redirects and Google

However, your page comes up when a search is performed for it, so it doesn't appear that problem is an issue either.

These meta tags do nothing for you at all, and are completely unnecessary:

< meta name="robots" content="index,follow">
< meta name="copyright" content="No rights reserved.">
< meta name="author" content="Justin">
< meta name="revisit-after" content="1">

The first is needlessly redundant. The second is better replaced by a copyright statement on the visible page itself, the third isn't used by any search engines whatsoever. The revisit tag was created for use by a regional search engine in British Columbia named SearchBC, and unfortunately, it's inventor came up with a meta tags generator for users of that search engine, which proved to be much more popular than the search engine itself. You'll see lots of sites with a "revist" tag, but it's really just a waste of html. SearchBC doesn't even use it anymore.

Having two < head> sections also isn't a good idea.

Having a link to the site between the two < head> sections also isn't. Because of the first one, and the link, the doctype isn't being identified correctly. Running the page through a validator might not be a bad idea, to mitigate the slight risk that some type of error is keeping an indexing program from Google from indexing the page.

I do want to say that sometimes Google just makes a mistake, and pagerank doesn't show up in the toolbar for a site. See this page from Google:

My webpages used to be listed and now they aren't.

Google doesn't often respond to questions about disappearing pagerank. Often, all you can do is try to clean up your page as much as possible, see if you can get some more links - maybe through some topical directories, DMOZ, and from people who might like something you're posting, and have some patience.

What is encouraging is that the cache date in Google from your site is November 9th, 2005, and when I perform a search for a string of text on google ("Deceiver, was released a year ago and features"), your site is the one that comes up in the results, and not another site.

I had a similar problem with a blog this March, and a bloglines page that was showing partial displays of my last 16 posts was coming up in searches for my site, and for snippets of text shared between the two, and my blog was being filtered out of results as if it were kicking off a duplicate content filter. It doesn't appear that your site is having the same problem.
posted by bragadocchio at 4:58 PM on November 10, 2005


Looks like my link to the second paper didn't come out right. Here is is again:

Link Spam Detection Based on Mass Estimation
posted by bragadocchio at 5:01 PM on November 10, 2005


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