How and Why Google Changed My Pagerank and What You Can Do To Avoid It!
Google changed my pagerank in a flash. And it was not for the better. This happened to me last Friday morning. What would you do? You awake one morning and check your email to find a penalty greeting from Google. Oh no, you think. What is your new pagerank? You check your pagerank that was 3 last night and it’s now 0 this morning. Are you kidding me? Where do you start? You may want to cry, shout or even kick something. You are now in the Google penalty box!
Or you may think “This could make a good post and a test example for others.” That was my thought after the surprise and then not so surprise as I had been reading how sites like Wikipedia changed all their links to nofollow. So the first thing I did was install a new plugin called WP External Links to add the nofollow attribute to all. I will wait 24 hours and check that it is working properly before submitting a reconsideration request. I understand it may take several times for a reconsideration request to change a pagerank back to where it was. If you don’t succeed at first, try, try again!
This is the first penalty in over 4 years I’ve ever received from Google. I don’t agree with their nofollow policy or shall we say HINT of it but I don’t want to be penalized by this giant and I’d love to see how long the process takes so we can all learn something from this one. I don’t want to see my readers crying that Google changed my pagerank too.
6 Steps to Check Why Your Pagerank May Be Down From a Google Penalty
- Check Your DoFollow Attributes – This seems to be the biggest recent cause of why Google changed my pagerank in a flash – Visit Open Site Explorer to see all your exterior links.
- Scan Your Website via WordFence – This suggestion came from my Prince of Tech Mayura and he reminded me to do a WordFence scan. Thank you Mayura for that reminder. Mayura also went on to help with the reconsideration request process. (You can be sure there will be a follow up post when an answer is received from Google).
- Check Your Visits Count – Did your views drop dramatically? If so it may be other SEO issues besides follow or nofollow links. Mine did not. The visits remained in the normal 3,500-6,000 per day range. This was not a reason Google changed my pagerank instantly.
- Check Your Alexa Ranking – Did that change too? Mine stayed in the same range as well. It may take longer to show their as they usually use 3 months of data for their analysis. Do keep your eyes out on it as time goes by.
- Check Your Domain Authority – You can check it via Open Site Explorer. You may have remembered a post I did over at Basic Blog Tips on the comparison of Page Rank vs. Domain Authority. Many thought pagerank would disappear from Google’s ranking system but it is still with us today. While you are there checking your own blogs DA you can check up to 5 others for comparison. Mine here remained the same as it was before Google changed my pagerank.
- Check For Spammy Commenter’s – Do you check all your new comments? Do you look up their blogs and see if they are legitimate before approving these new comments? I’m going back over old comments and getting rid of any that appear spammy. I believe this could be one of the reasons Google changed my pagerank overnight. Comments that are dofollow could be the cause. I also changed my comments to nofollow for the time being. (I hope to change many of them I know well back – time will tell).
What Are Unnatural Outbound Links?
I did not have any links for sale or link schemes. So what else would cause a Google Penalty like this to happen and why did Google changed my pagerank overnight?
- Sponsored Posts – If you do sponsored posts, as I have here on occasion, be sure to make those links all nofollow.
- Guest Posts – Do you have guest posts on your site with outbound links? Be sure to make those nofollow too. I do have contributor posts here that could be the cause for Google to send me a penalty.
- Comments – Followed links with keyword rich anchor text could be another cause which is why I made my comments nofollow for now.
What Else Is Google Doing To SEO of Late?
If you are a blogger like me you may be busy writing content, sharing others content, spreading your content out and not paying attention to every last tweet from Matt Cutts on the latest Google updates. You may not be looking at your pagerank daily. (Hint, hint!)
New, in-depth webmaster video: “What are some myths about SEO?” http://t.co/Gs99sLta32
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) April 16, 2014
New webmaster video: “Does Google treat 404 and 410 status codes differently?” http://t.co/wpBq8Ihnwk
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) April 14, 2014
Webmaster Tools is getting much better index status info: http://t.co/DJEFD6Qhkq
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) March 31, 2014
Of course I do read many articles and blogs on SEO. Any new big changes I tend to write about and put up on the SEO Hints page here for you. I had not addressed the latest nofollow theory as it was not set in stone. It appeared to be more of a hint from Google’s Matt Cutts.
No, typically nofollow links cannot hurt your site – so upfront, very quick answer on that point,” said Matt Cutts. He goes on to say that you can drive visitors to your site from nofollow links. (Not from search itself but from the visitors alone.)
What about dofollow? Matt does say “They can have a negative impact.” He goes on to say it can have an effect your blog’s reputation. I guess hints are more like “written in stone” coming from Matt Cutts. The other hint I’m starting to hear is about guest blogging. Some say it will be a spammy practice. Will you put the brakes on guest blogging next? I wish Matt would be more upfront with us instead of going around the bush giving us a hint here or there. I’d love it spelled out for all of us. Instead of it can, say it will! Not so wishy washy Matt, please.
I’d love to know if you’ve received an email from Google about unnatural outbound links as well.
And if not, have you taken steps to avoid a Google penalty so you don’t have to say “Google Changed My Pagerank!”?