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Why did my Page Rank decrease? FAQs

I have recently gotten a lot of questions by email from companies wondering why their Google Page Rank has decreased. I thought that it would be useful to share some of these questions because I bet many of you have similar questions. Note: Identities have been hidden to protect the innocent - or guilty - as the case might be. Want to know more about Page Rank? Read this article that explains Page Rank.

  

Question:

We just made some SEO changes to our website - these were all "On Page" changes (Page Title, Keywords, Description). Could these changes have resulted in a Page Rank decrease?

Answer:

No. Page Rank is based on the number and quality of inbound links. Page Rank is not dependent on the content of your website, especially the standard on page SEO pieces of content like Page Title. Making these changes is not what decreased your Page Rank.

Question:

My Page Rank has been a 4 for a really long time. I have not gained or lost a lot of links recently. Why did my Page Rank drop from a 4 to a 2 this week?

Answer:

There could be a number of reasons. But, from looking at your site, you have a number of pages labeled "resources" or "partners" which seem to be a list of links to other companies in your industry. Following these links takes me to other websites which have similar pages and also link to a number of other websites, including yours. These are "reciprocal links" established primarily to trick the search engines into ranking you higher. Linking specifically to increase your rank in search engines is against the Google webmaster terms of service. I believe that part of the changes in this Page Rank update reflect the growing ability of Google to distinguish link exchanges from genuine "natural" links. You probably lost the value of those links, which were a key part of why you were a 4 before. Starting today, you should focus on building links into your site more naturally. Read Linkbuilding for the Internet Marketing Neophyte for more info.

Question:

My Page Rank has not changed in the last 4 months. Why did it change this week? Nothing happened to my website this week!

Answer:

Google does a Page Rank update 1-3 times per year. There is not a firm schedule, and they kind of do it when they want. Plus, the Page Rank number that is publicly available in the Google Toolbar (or by running a website report at Website Grader) is about 2-3 months old. In addition, this public number is an approximation, your actual Page Rank may be a 6.4789 for you and a 5.6793 for your competitor, but the public data will show them both as 6. Unfortunately, the public Page Rank number is the best data available. Google does not want to be completely transparent with all of their data because they do not want people to reverse engineer their algorithm. Given all of this info, it is likely that any Page Rank change is the result of things that happened some number of weeks ago.

  

Question:

I have more inbound links now than before the last Page Rank Update. Why did my Page Rank stay the same (or decrease) rather than increase?

Answer:

The web is a competitive place, just like the rest of the world. The maximum Page Rank has always been 10. All websites cannot increase Page Rank forever, or else they would all be a 10 eventually. As the web grows, the number of links required to remain a Page Rank of 4 (the average Page Rank according to our data) will increase over time. So, it is very possible that you have more links now, but your Page Rank stayed the same or decreased because other websites increased their number and quality of links more than you did. You can use a tool like Website Grader to monitor both your links and your competitors' links.

Question:

I bought a number of links to my site using Text-Link-Ads. These helped increase my organic rank for the search terms that I used as the anchor text and probably increased my Page Rank. Recently my Page Rank and organic ranking positions have decreased. What happened?

Answer:

You should check the Page Rank of the sites where you bought links and see if they have decreased. If so, they have probably been "busted" by Google and you might think about removing the links because they have decreased in SEO value (probably being worth close to nothing).

Also, buying links is against Google's guidelines. Though, in my opinion, there is a huge grey area in what is a link that is an advertisement and what is a link that is only for raising your organic search rank or paying a blogger to review your product (and link to you). Google has to tread a careful path here, since they make BILLION$ from paid search ads they can't get too mad at others for making money on advertising. But, they do hold the keys to the castle. Overall, the best linking strategies are to build natural links to your website by having great content that people want to link to. Read Linkbuilding for the Internet Marketing Neophyte for more info.

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