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Has your web site lost its Google pagerank?

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I have been a Google fan for a long time. But, if what Kinderstart.com and others are asserting is accurate, I will be Google user no longer. As a small business owner, the internet is a valuable tool in growing and maintaining a business. Some folks, like myself, take the easy, yet costly route of getting to the top of the search engine - we pay per click. Other companies work tirelessly, investing 1000s of hours of 'sweat equity' to naturally get to the top. After being in the coveted Top 10 for months or years, suddenly an inexplicably, their site is gone, buried in the sandbox. While on other search engines, that same site is still on the front page. I believe that Google is a service and they should have to answer to these companies that are dropped from top billing to no billing. They need to be accountable. It is appalling that organizations can spend countless time and resources building and maintaining a business and that another company can take it all away without an explanation.


It is my opinion, other companies that have been knocked off the Google map need to join Kinderstart.com and get the answers they rightfully deserve. And, if Google has purposefully and/or maliciously knocked a company down, then Google should have to pay.



This is from the Associated Press:

SAN FRANCISCO — Google Inc.'s (GOOG) mysterious methods for ranking Web sites came under attack Friday in a lawsuit accusing the online search engine leader of ruining scores of Internet businesses that have been wrongfully banished from its index.


The civil complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose by KinderStart.com, seeks to be certified as a class action representing the owners of all Web sites blacklisted by Google's Internet-leading search engine since January 2001.


KinderStart, a Norwalk, Calif.-based Web site devoted to information about children, says it was dropped from Google's index a year ago without warning.


"The world is becoming increasingly 'Googlized,'" said Gregory Yu, a lawyer for KinderStart. "For most people, that has been a good thing, but not for everyone."


A Google spokesman said the company hadn't seen the suit and had no immediate comment.


KinderStart alleges Google has engaged in anticompetitive behavior and misled the public by positioning its search engine as an objective source for finding Internet content. The suit seeks unspecified financial damages and a court order that would require Google to change its ways.


The case aims at Google's heart — its tightly guarded formula for ranking Web sites.

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Google used to be a relevant search engine before marketers started taking advantage of the algorithm to boost their standings. It's purpose is to list in order of relevance, sites that provide a user with the most relevant information regarding a search term- Not whichever business feels they should because they once were highly rated or paid money to take advantage of the algorithm. Google shouldn't have to explain to any company why they are ranked differently if the change was due to the evolution of the algorithm to make it a more efficient search engine.


I'd rather have a search engine that returns relevant information for my search term, not the most optimized site. If your site is a relevant, informational, and popular site it should rank well.


As far as Kinderstart.com goes, they are another search engine who knows enough not to risk their entire business on a Google ranking. It's most likely a marketing ploy for them. I'm sure they got more hits from this than any listing that they ever had.


As a business owner I'm sure you want your money's worth so you don't want to face the fact that SEO changes everyday and it's a gamble.


If you'd rather have a search engine that returns a ton of ads then boycott Google. If you want a user-friendly, relevant search engine, then you should be behind Google in its plan to give more relevant search results, not just "optimized" ones.


I am an SEO professional and I tell all of my clients that the way to rank well is to have a great site, not just pay me to make a quick fix. Any reputable search engine algorithm will evolve toward ranking a relevant site higher. For the long term, it's in you best interest to have an SEO plan that includes giving users a content rich site, not one that exploits of parts of dynamic algorithms.


In addition to having a rich site, you should make sure you optimize as well. That's just smart, but don't expect to get by with the usual SEO tactics alone.


Kinderstart.com just had a ton of links, but no real content. They probably shouldn't rank well in any search engine.

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I agree that having a search engine produce relevant results is the MOST important aspect of the service they provide. In all honesty, I know little about Kinderstart.com. But, they are not the only company this has happened to.


If sites with relevant content are suddenly knocked off the radar and yet remain on the first page on all other search engines, I see this as suspicious. I do not believe the great secrets of Google need to be revealed. I do believe that Google, as a company providing a service, should have a team of folks to review cases in which this occurs. For example, if a site with relevant content was in the Top 10 for years and suddenly is so deep in the sandbox that it can't be found, perhaps there is something wrong with the system. That company should have a way to report the situation, have it investigated and receive a response back from Google. I would think Google would want to know so that they can increase the efficiency of their site. This also would greatly reduce the volume of suspicion that the shift in ranking was intentional.


I hope that the Kinderstart.com lawsuit allows for an investigation to determine if there is malicious intent. Google is no longer a little start-up. They are a publicly traded company and should be accountable for their actions and decisions. And, if nothing comes of it and there is no malicious intent, it will just make them stronger.

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My 'sandbox' theory


From my experience, I can only postulate that the sandbox rule is not focused on new sites. It applies to the age of the links and the IP address range associated with it. The problem I see with that strategy is that if web site owners decide to move to another hosting company Google will notice the new IP address and the associated domain name ranking will drop.


If this is the case, what happens if a web site is moved to an IP address range that Google has previously associated as a spammer. My only hope is that Google's sandboxing algorithm is truly a probationary period and good web sites do not dissappear from public view. I have a web site that is experiencing this problem for the past few weeks, but at this point of time I do not want to believe there is any programed censorship.


With great power comes great responsibility


I do agree that Google, as a market leader providing a search service, should have a team of folks to review cases in which this occurs. Or at least create a tool to let web site owners know what the problem is.


Look forward on what there is still to do


I also agree that web site owners should focus on building a great site, not constantly worry about their search rankings. Focus on making people stick to your web site more than ever before. Advocacy and word of mouth will always be worth more than a generated report of where you stand in the pack.

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I have wonder for quite a while how long it would take the general public to notice this problem. As I run a number of local websites (i.e. AdamsMorgan.net) I have had ups and down on google and other search sites.


This really came to bear at the start of the adsence campaign. Prior to adsence my site was #1 then it went to being not found and back to #1 of late. I recently have added google ads to the site and find it funny that not once has a related local ad show up in their area. However in other sites of mine around the area I see only local ads.


Retail areas and portal are the same thing for the most part. Businesses flock to an area based upon location, location location as should those business online as well. I tried many models with my dot.nets from having the local business pay to be on a site to just putting their info online, which is what we still do.


Back in 97 when I put up RockvillePike.net and paid to be on the radio promoting it and in print as well. What I found when I walked the pike, which I did from Strathmore to middle lane, was that most businesses really did not have a clue about websites let alone being found by someone and that is still the case.


The reason I put up the dot net was that after building a site and not being able to tell the owner that it would be found on hotbot or lycos we could at least say it was on a portal and their were far fewer site back then and none of this keyword stuff, which I remember as well when you could own the key word which is the same case with AOL. If you have the screen name you pretty much have the keyword.


In the end sites that are crossed referenced will have the greatest relevance to the end users as well to spiders that are looking for said information; That is saying that the site actually has some information that is usefull.


Infact while I will list a business I will not link to it unless they relink back to us and that is the main critera used if you see a link on one of the dot nets.

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This is the message I have got from the Google Community


Bigdaddy switch over happened:


This data center lays the groundwork for better canonicalization, although most of that will follow down the road. But some improvements are already visible with site: searches. The site: operator now returns more intuitive results (this is actually live at all data centers now).


No data center will make 100% of people happy. For every url that moves into the top 10, another url moves out. And the changes on Bigdaddy are relatively subtle (less ranking changes and more infrastructure changes). - Matt Cutts, Google's Senior engineer


Bigdaddy did have have a big ranking change on our web site. I will have to ask Mr. Cutts about this.

For those of you who do not know Googles definition of canonicalization:


Canonicalization is the process of picking the best url when there are several choices, and it usually refers to home pages. For example, most people would consider these the same urls:






But technically all of these urls are different. A web server could return completely different content for all the urls above. When Google “canonicalizes” a url, we try to pick the url that seems like the best representative from that set.


One thing that helps is to pick the url that you want and use that url consistently across your entire site. For example, don’t make half of your links go to http://example.com/ and the other half go to http://www.example.com/ . Instead, pick the url you prefer and always use that format for your internal links.


Q: Is there anything else I can do?

A: Yes. Suppose you want your default url to be http://www.example.com/ . You can make your webserver so that if someone requests http://example.com/, it does a 301 (permanent) redirect to http://www.example.com/ . That helps Google know which url you prefer to be canonical. Adding a 301 redirect can be an especially good idea if your site changes often (e.g. dynamic content, a blog, etc.).


Google is also currently requesting site mapping for large web sites. But once again this is not a panacea that will get your pages crawled.


One of the classic crawling strategies that Google has used is the amount of PageRank on your pages. So just because your site has been around for a couple years (or that you submit a sitemap), that doesn’t mean that we’ll automatically crawl every page on your site. In general, getting good quality links would probably help us know to crawl your site more deeply. You might also want to look at the remaining unindexed urls; do they have a ton of parameters (we typically prefer urls with 1-2 parameters)? Is there a robots.txt? Is it possible to reach the unindexed urls easily by following static text links (no Flash, JavaScript, AJAX, cookies, frames, etc. in the way)? That’s what I would recommend looking at.


Google is now penalizing any web sites that sell static advertisement links to other web sites.


“If one were to offer to sell space on their site (or consider purchasing it on another), would it be a good idea to offer to add a NOFOLLOW tag so to generate the traffic from the advertisement, but not have the appearence of artificial PR manipulation through purchasing of links?”

A: Yes, if you sell links, you should mark them with the nofollow tag. Not doing so can affect your reputation in Google

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I work for a company that has been around for over 10 years. Ever since I joined the company over 3 years ago, we have always been on the first page in Google's search. A few weeks ago, we were pushed to the 17th page, basically out of existance. Community businesses that were listed and added content to our site are now suffering. No one is seeing their information because we are buried.


This happened with no warning or explaination. I feel that Google should have to explain itself not only to companies like mine, but also to the public. Why did this happen? How can websites successfully climb out of the celler. Our website is rich with ontent that changes almost daily so I feel as if we have met the content requirement of relevent search.


Google is not the small company they once were, they now control about 80% of all searches so they must be held accountable for their accounts. There has to at least be a valid explanation.


I alos wonder why our Google PR has stayed the same yet out search resluts have been "sandboxed".

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest BlackSun_*

Here is something I read.


The most brilliant minds are working in the bowels of the code rooms at Google. (Actually, they are probably sitting on their sun deck, in a bath robe, drinking tequilla, and typing on a laptop through dark sunglasses and 9 levels of wireless encryption, but you get the point).


The Google spiders, parsers, lexical analyers and semantic processors are *TRYING* to be more human (AI), *NOT* more robot like. That means, they are going to be more and more "keen" to clues of an SEO site, such as all the "rules" the SEO people like to play.


They are also going to pay more attention to page formatting, CSS placements, and not simply view the sites the way Linx did. That is too easy to get the wrong idea about a page, and for scammers to place content off screen. Ever wonder why it takes so long to get listed in their directory? Maybe it's not "sandboxing" but the amount of parsing, processing, lexical and semantic checking, and such that has to go into a website before it does get listed?


*BUT*, since the above programs *are* still robots, and not human, wouldn't it be easier to be able to pick out all the "optimzed" and potential "scam" sites, easily? Sure! Let people *THINK* that the optimizations get them higher rankings, when really those optimizations are really _RED_FLAGS_ for the spiders and parsers to do some really heavy MUNCHING to see if there is content on those pages or not!


In short, Google, with a little disinformation, has developed an entire industry spending huge amounts of time and money picking out the potential "problem" and "scam" sites for them by putting all those nice little red flags a robot can pick out easily :)


Interesting concept, huh? As a programmer, it makes perfect sense to me :)

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Here is some thoughts from an SEO professional on DCpages. Hopefully this will help you with your web site.


DC Pages is in the index, but I'm not sure what your keyword targets

are. I tried "Washington DC classifieds" and you ranked in the low

50's, so your site isn't really penalized or otherwise impaired in

Google. Its probably just a case of trying to get a generalized

directory like yours to rank well for any specific search terms.


For example, your site's main page has over 1000 words in it. Which of

them are your target keywords? Are they being adequately emphasized?

The main page has over 400 links on it. This is 4 times the number

Google recommends as a limit in its guidelines. Although that advice

may not be a part of Google's overall site analysis methods anymore, it

still has some negative implications for the distribution of PageRank

(ie. link popularity and ranking power) through your site. These are

the issues I think your site needs to address to improve your

performance in Google. Good luck!


Richard L. Trethewey


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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest Tom Henderson

A different perspective.


I am a qualified commercial accountant with experience as a "business troubleshooter" with a large international company for a number of years. In addition I have many years experience in the computer industry. The following comment is offered with some authority. Plus sincerity.


I have been following the Google Support forum for over a month. There have been many enquiries identical to yours. Some of the causes are technical. Google has made several major changes in the last two months. One is regionalising its datacenters and two is an upgrade to their platform due to several issues one of which is of their own making. Their software has got itself into a "deadly embrace". There is little you can do about it but wait. And suffer along with everyone else.


A surprising number of people have business models that rely on a web-presence for it's viability. Google in particular. Because this is the heart of the matter I wrote an article that tries to explain the nature of Google's business operation. In order to use the Google environment it is necessary to understand what it is and what it does. Then, and only then, build a business around it. And don't complain about it. If your business is totally reliant on the Google environment then you may have a problem. Don't rely on it. As Google adapts, your business needs to adapt. As you now discover.


What responsibility does Google have. In my opinion - none.

The article can be seen at http://www.camron.com.au/unintended.htm


I sincerely hope this helps.


Regards, Tom Henderson, Camron Business Systems.


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Guest Blacksun_*

Their software has got itself into a "deadly embrace". There is little you can do about it but wait. And suffer along with everyone else.


your business is totally reliant on the Google environment then you may have a problem. Don't rely on it. As Google adapts, your business needs to adapt. As you now discover.


What responsibility does Google have. In my opinion - none.


If web site owners put a block Google html tag on their web page Google's stocks would tank in one day.

Then google would be sufferring like everyone else.

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Guest LAW

This information from Google


Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.

The search results that appear from Google's indices are indexed by Google's automated machinery and computers, and Google cannot and does not screen the sites before including them in the indices from which such automated search results are gathered.


In evaluating the merit and relevance of a page, Google looks not only at the content of the page itself, but also at the anchor text of links that point to the page. If links pointing to the page contain the phrase you searched for, Google may return the page as a match for your query. When this occurs, our cached copy of the page displays the following message in the upper left-hand area: "These terms only appear in links pointing to this page."


The better question might be why Google not following their own public statement. The answer is always the same. Money.

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Guest Anderson

This message is quoted by Anderson.


Here is the problem for DCpages


Imagine you are a charitable organisation in a community, that has a

local community newspaper. Many newspapers have a protocol, when they

need to fill up a hole on a page they "charitably" fill it wilh a free

article or advertisment promoting the charitable cause. Now, in this

example the local newspaper has run the promtional "free" material for

5 or 6 years, the charity has done very nicely, receiving a steady

stream of donations, building up to the point where the income stream

is substantial, and the charity has done many good works, including

employing a number of talented people. Then, through a change of

policy, or change of management, or change of circumstances, the

newspaper is no longer able to publish the articles, and the donations

stream suddenly dries up. What do you do. Does the newspaper now have a

responsibility, moral or legal, to continue to publish the promotional



DCpages does not appear to be a charitable organisation, but has had a

good run with free Google advertising for some time.


You can read the entire thread at:



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Guest anderson

Hey, Luke Wilbur,


While you are making your phone call .. back to the "dc washington" problem you are having .. a lot of others are having the same problem and appears with many symptoms .. many sites are being cut back to just their home page. This means if their outbound links are on a separate links page, the "vote" for the other site disappears. Your page rank is dependent on the number of inbound "votes" or links to you. I have been doing some research on this "sympton" and it has me stumped. You have a good number of inbound links. I looked at a couple of them and their links are on a links page. Are you able to check on

http://www.prsearch.biz/ and examine the number of inbound links (DCpages.com) you have. Compare that to the number of inbound links you know you should have. Then check with as many of your participants and get them to use googles "site:" command and see how many of them have been reduced to just their home page only. If they have separate "links" pages and those links pages have gone then you have had your foundations reduced dramatically. In other words the problem may well be external to you. I dont have the quantity of external links you do to conduct this research. Are you able to help.



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Hi Anderson,

I checked PR web search function.




Washington DC City Pages : District of Columbia Community |Inbound links |

A directory of thousands of local web sites, with special sections devoted to

sites of interest to visitors, businesses, and those relocating to the area.

http://www.dcpages.com/ 61k |similar pages| |cached pages|


The inbound links function does not seem to work.


I then clicked on the Link Popularity


Domain dcpages.com

Google 0 (check)

Yahoo! 2,510 (check)

MSN Search 0 (check)

AltaVista 62,300 (check)

AlltheWeb 2,490 (check)

HotBot 0 (check


When I clicked on Google check I got 2,990 linking to dcpages.com. PRSearch says 0

When I clicked on MSN check 20,750 results containing link:dcpages.com. PRSearch says 0


I will ask our CTO if that is possible.



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Guest anderson

you need to assess whether the number of backlinks you expect to have, agrees with what is now shown


The actual known members with backlinks, can be subdivided into two groups

(a) those with their link to you is on their home page

(B) those with their link to you is not on their home page but on a subsidiary page


you are only interested in group b.

you need to confirm that those in group (B) have their "link" page still indexed by google.



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After so many supportive emails I have decided to publically post my correspondance with Google.

This is what I received so far. On Tuesday March 14, 2006 I contacted Bill Nolte, My representative

from Google. Bill sent me the message below.


-----Original Message-----

From: Bill Nolte [mailto:bnolte@google.com]

Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 4:00 PM

To: Luke Wilbur

Subject: RE: Google Question



Hi Luke -


I'm inquiring w/ our support team, will be in touch.




-----Original Message-----

From: Luke Wilbur [mailto:Luke_Wilbur@DCpages.com]

Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 3:52 PM

To: Bill Nolte

Subject: Google Question


Hi Bill,

Thanks for your help on placing ads on DCpages.com. I noticed that our

traffic from Google has dropped since Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Since then Yahoo has really taken the lead


Yahoo 39.88%

MSN Search 30.93%

Google 27.43%


This is not a normal trend by any means since for the last 5 years, when you

overtook Yahoo.


So I started looking and found that my old page is still being cached on




Is still from our old pages. I then noticed we are no longer listed in your

top pages for "washington dc" we have been on the first page since you guys

started. Now we are on page 17.


Is their a problem why you cannot crawl our web site any more?


Thanks for your help in advance,


Luke Wilbur

9813 Belhaven Road


After numerous phone calls to Bill Nolte with no response. I have been active in the Google support forums.

I was advised to contact Google though their support system. This is the automated response I have received.


From: bounce-20-56206951@google.trakken.com

On Behalf Of help@google.com

Sent: Friday, May 05, 2006 5:03 PM

To: lukewilbur

Subject: Re: [#56206951] DCpages Rank has Dropped from #1 to #150


Thank you for your note. This is an automated reply to your inquiry about

your site's inclusion in the Google search results. We're always working

hard to provide comprehensive online assistance, and you'll likely find an

answer to your question at the following links:






If you have additional questions, we recommend reviewing the Google Help

Center at http://www.google.com/support for our most up-to-date

information. You might also try our online discussion forum at



Finally, if you've exhausted our online help content, and you're still

having trouble finding an answer to your question, please feel free to

reply to this email. It's important to keep in mind that we'll only be

able to respond to your note if we can provide additional information

that's not currently available on our Help Center.


Thanks again for taking the time to write.



The Google Team

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Luke Wilbur

DCpages.com has was on the first page since google started then a few

months ago it dropped down to 150. Then Tuesday it moved back to first

page and our staff was relieved. Today I look and see that DCpages.com

is now 9 pages down. What is the deal with them?


For people that are interested I have another thread going on that

discusses this issue.



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Ok Here is the message I recieved from Google about the problem.


[mailto:bounce-20-56206951@google.trakken.com]On Behalf Of Google Help

Sent: Wednesday, May 24, 2006 3:18 PM

Subject: Re: [#56206951] DCpages Rank has Dropped from #1 to #150



Hi Luke,


Thank you for your note. Please be assured that your site is not currently

banned or penalized by Google. As you may know, our search results change

regularly as we update our index. When we add new sites and incorporate

updates to the content of existing pages, pages in our search results

shift. Some will be ranked higher than before for a particular keyword and

others lower.


These changes are completely automated. It is certainly our intent to

represent the content of the internet fairly and accurately. To learn more

about how Google determines sites' positions in our search results, please

see http://www.google.com/technology/index.html


Occasionally, fluctuation in ranking could be due to differences in our

data centers. When you perform a Google search, your query is sent to a

Google data center in order to retrieve search results. There are numerous

data centers, and many factors (such as geographic location and search

traffic) determine where a query is sent. Because not all of our data

centers are updated simultaneously, it's possible to see slightly

different search results depending on which data center handles your



While we can't guarantee that any page will rank consistently in our

search results, or be included at all for that matter, our Webmaster

Guidelines offer helpful tips for maintaining a "Google-friendly" site:

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/b...py?answer=35769. In

general, webmasters can improve a site's visibility in our search results

by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to it.


We appreciate your taking the time to write to us.



The Google Team

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Guest JaneSays

Search engines often use the number of backlinks that a website has as one of the factors for determining that website's search engine ranking. For example, Google's PageRank algorithm uses backlinks to help determine a site's rank.

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Guest blingbling

I am sorry that I have not responded any sooner. I do not like to write on anything I really do not understand.


But, stating that. I am willing to learn.


What everyone here is stating that Google has changed their search results.


From what I am reading on the circuit is that Google is gambling with Sitemaps. They are thinking'

about mobile communication devices and are moving into the xml world. Soon will take this information

from web sites and place it in a digested form form for mobile devices.


Winners - government, non-profit, news, and blog publications

Break Even - Encyclopedias

Losers - Message boards, Directories, and Classifieds


Google losers will now have to pay just like everyone else.


Is Google really becoming the loser?


Currently, there is a growing movement people of using MSN, Yahoo, and Ask. There are metrics finding that web site owners that have a favorable rating with the above three are using them to search their web sites content.

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I have been reading Matt Cutts, Google's chief search engineer's blog and here is what is being said.


PageRank is now being used to eliminate pages from the search results completely. I think this has what has broken Google, because PageRank is the foundation of the algorithm that used to make Google work.


Google now has a manual switch which zeroes PageRank of sites it deems to be “unfairly gaming the system.” It also has a scheme which lowers the PageRank of pages in “bad neighbourhoods” or using known “black hat” SEO techniques- this is often dubbed TrustRank, but we have no indication from Google that it is separated from PageRank in the Google architecture.

- Kade Hansson



what gives Google the right to determine that affilaite sites are bad? The internet is about choice and these affiliate schemes work, giving people a living! - Ron


Matt: Do you really think, that quality sites will ever link to other quality sites for free again, as it used to be in the old days of the WWW? As it used to be one of the major ideas of the WWW? If you link to another website, you’ll have to be afraid to get punished for this action. So, why link to other sites but for money? And on the other hand: How will you ever get “natural” links to your site again? - Joel Lesser


Matt’s best guess is that it is a low priority crawl/index site, and that they are intentionally leaving some of the site’s pages out of the index, just because it hasn’t attracted enough natural IBLs. That’s no way to run a decent search engine. It is grossly unfair to link-poor sites, and it short-changes its users. - PhilC


sounds like Google doesn’t like affiliate links. But if AdSense is okay then why are affiliate links bad? - Mike


Matt Cutts Said,

May 17, 2006 @ 1:49 pm


shorty, much appreciated. I wanted to get the timeline out of my brain and talk about what I was seeing before I headed out for some time off.


Alex Duffield, in my experience those links aren’t making much/any difference with Google.


Peter, without knowing the site I couldn’t be sure. It’s possible that we’ve indexed the site with www and without www, or there might be some session IDs or other parameters that are redundant.


“Sounds like Google is now actually penalizing for poor quality inbound links.” Mike, that isn’t what’s happening in the examples that I mentioned. It’s just that those links aren’t helping the site.


David Burdon, no, off-topic links wouldn’t cause a penalty by themselves. Now if the off-topic links are spammy, that could cause a problem. But if a hardware company links to a software package, that’s often a good link even though some people might think of the link as off-topic.

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Guest Robert B.

Google’s new mission statement should be to index the Fortune 500 company information. Cmon guys you know they sold out. Its only about the money now. If they stay quiet, maybe people will not notice.

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