Google Penalized My Site’s Page Rank, and How I Got It Back

google page rankLast year, I got a rude awaking.  On a day that most webmasters cherish, I was sulking.  Google had updated their Page Ranks, and mine had dropped to 1.  Just 24 hours earlier I as enjoying a Page Rank of 3, and it had been knocked down.  What made me even more upset was that I was seeing record traffic over the previous months, I was ranking in the top 5 for dozens of keywords that were high traffic, and everything was going great.  And while nothing changed in terms of traffic, webmasters know that Page Rank does affect advertising dollars.  My website was set to lose hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars in potential advertising.  All because of Google!

Well, if you’ve read any of me past posts, you know that I’m not inclined to sit back and just accept that.  I’m always looking for solutions, and this is what I did to get my site’s Page Rank back.  And here I am, one year later, back at a Page Rank 3 for the site in question.  Check out the strategies I followed below to help me get my Page Rank back!


Too Many Outbound Links

Part of my early searching helped me discover that too many outbound links can pose a problem.  You’ve always heard inbound links are a good thing, but outbound links can actually hurt you.  Here is the original Google Page Rank Equation from when Page Rank was first being developed:

PR(A) = (1-d) + d(PR(t1)/C(t1) + … + PR(tn)/C(tn))

Basically, it means the Page Rank of Site A equals the Sum of Each Page Rank of Linking Sites Divided by The Number of Outbound Links on the Site.

Theoretically, for an inbound link to a site, it can mean that a PR4 site with only 5 outbound links has the same weight as a PR8 site with 100 links.

From this, you can derive your Page Rank.  That is why everyone has always preached “get more backlinks”.  And while that is true, you also lose from having too many outbound links that essentially drain your Page Rank.

Where can you easily remove links?  Try these common blog link juice thieves:

  • CommentLuv
  • Recent Discussion
  • Top Commentors
  • Blogroll
  • Gravitar

Sometimes you just can’t remove a link for whatever reason.  Keep reading to find out what to do next!


No Follow Links Versus Do Follow Links

If you can’t just remove a link for whatever reason, Google understands, and gives and option.  You can have links classified as both “No Follow” and “Do Follow”.  No follow links essentially tell the webcrawler that this link is NOT recommended by the host website.  Whereas, a Do Follow link is recommended by the host website.

There are many types of links that you should consider “No Follow” if you really can’t remove them:

  • Social Media Links (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Advertising Links (Banners, widgets, etc.)
  • Affiliate Links
If you have a site that has too many advertising and affiliate links, Google may consider your page Spam or a Bridge Page.  Everyone knows what is considered spam, but could Google’s algorithm consider your site a Bridge Page?  If you have too many affiliate links, even if they are “No Follow”, you could get dinged on this one.


Prevent Duplicate Content

Everyone has heard of Google Panda.  It was the update that really cracked down on content farms.  Basically, you could suffer if you have duplicate content floating around the internet.  The best way to prevent this is to be proactive from the start.  There are a lot of “scrapers” and blog plagiarizers out there that are stealing content everyday.

If you haven’t read my post about What To Do When Someone Steals Your Content, I highly suggest it.  But here are some key ways to prevent it from happening to start with:

  • Get an RSS Footer that includes a link to your site, your Twitter, or other social media
  • Use Google Alerts to setup alerts for your website name and main content areas
If you discover that your content is being stolen, immediately contact the site owner and file a DMCA request with the hosting provider.  By doing this, you will get the content removed.


Improve Your Inbound Links

As I mentioned at the start, inbound links are just a big a key feature of Page Rank as outbound links.  While you try to minimize your unneeded outbound links, you should also continue to beef up your inbound links.  There are several great ways for bloggers to do this:

  • Comment on other websites
  • Offer guest posts
  • Submit to Blog Carnivals
  • Post on relevant forums
What Google is looking for now is not only Quantity, but Quality.  This is what hurt a lot of websites in the last update.  As a result, you should really focus on keeping quality up – if you’re a personal finance blogger like me, participate in other personal finance blogs and forums.  Don’t go commenting on cat forums, as Google will not find that as relevant.


Watch Your Advertising

Finally, you need to watch your advertising.  If you sell advertising on your website, including text advertising, don’t be surprised if Google blacklists your site because of the links.  It seems obvious that Google will keep records of companies that purchase links – they do this by monitoring the linking domains, looking for know IPs, and most likely other proprietary methods.  Google hates selling links because it ruins their Page Rank metrics, so they will punish known offenders by giving a low Page Rank to not skew other site’s results.


I used these strategies and I was able to get my Page Rank back.  I think that most sites can follow this list, but realize it will take time for Google to raise your PR back up.  You can still make money though while you wait – check out how you can get advertisers for your website.


Readers, what other tips or tricks do you know about getting back into Google’s good graces?  Have you ever experienced anything like this?

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  1. I had a similar journey – 2 to 1 to 3 (now). It’s an interesting web Google weaves, haha. I enjoyed your article on protecting your articles – but I’ve been taking the lazy road and just checking that Google has me as the originator.

  2. I’m sitting at a PR2 now, and actively working to get more backlinks. Good resource article, Robert.

  3. Glad to hear you got your page rank back. A few years ago Google knocked me down from a 3 to a 0. I didn’t change anything but eventually Google restored my page rank and when it came back they had increased it to a PR4. Page Rank is hard to figure out sometimes.

    • It is, but I’m guessing over that period you continued to gain backlinks and you had more content, both of which should help you get your rank back!

  4. Boy do I hate scrapers! Nice work getting your page rank back! I hadn’t thought of gravatar adding up outbound links but it makes total sense now. I really should get more SEO savvy. -Sydney

    • Just think of how many links are in the comment box alone: name, CommentLuv, Gravitar, etc. How many “links of credit” do you need to give each commenter?

  5. Everything Finance was also penalized 2 year back. I also followed a few of these steps mentioned above. Good post!

  6. Glad to hear you got things fixed in the end. Thanks for sharing such valuable information. I will definitely be reviewing my blog to see if I can make some proactive changes.

  7. Kudos for figuring out the antidote to google’s hit and thanks for sharing!

  8. I was punished too about 1.5 years ago, but it has returned with the last update. I did follow the steps that you mentioned above as well.

  9. Thanks for the advice. I will keep building backlinks to avoid any possible penalty as much as i can.

  10. What you are saying about too many outbound is not correct and I have no idea where you got that formula.

    • Tyler, the equation is from the Google patent for Page Rank – which is actually owned by Stanford since it was developed when Larry Page went to school there. It is publicly available in multiple places, including on the patent, and on the Wikipedia page describing the patent.

      Some disagree about outbound links, but if you check Google Webmaster tools, there are clear definitions about what the difference is between “do follow” and “no follow” links. As such, do follow links in excess can hurt your page rank. So can having too many irrelevant links, whether do follow or no follow. Webmaster tools also gives clear guidelines about how and when to use each type of link.

      Finally, Google’s algorithm is changing all the time, so while it is not as simple as that basic formula, the basic principle still exists somewhere in it.

      • I know what it is from but there is no real way and no real chance the current algoritm is anywhere close to that today.

        I’m in agreement excessive do-follow links can hurt your rankings but in the post you are talking mostly about links created via comments which most people set to no-follow.

        “Theoretically, for an inbound link to a site, it can mean that a PR4 site with only 5 outbound links has the same weight as a PR8 site with 100 links.”

        This can be tested somewhat easily and I’ve seen nor read any evidence of it to be true.

        But really the evidence is all over the internet. The nets largest websites are all generally just link farms (gallery sites, social media sites, social bookmark sites, forums). They tend to have thousands and thousands of outbound links, some even do-follow and they continue to be the highest pr domains and many times pages.

        “If you have a site that has too many advertising and affiliate links, Google may consider your page Spam or a Bridge Page. Everyone knows what is considered spam, but could Google’s algorithm consider your site a Bridge Page? If you have too many affiliate links, even if they are “No Follow”, you could get dinged on this one.”

        This was probably your biggest problem and I am in total agreement with the statement.

  11. I am facing a situation where the number of outbound links when compared to the inbound links from my website is increasing. This comes as a great piece of information to me and I will now try to keep it proportionate.


  12. I found your blog post searching for a solution to get my PR back when a bug in a wordpress plugin put a noindex robots meta tag in my blog’s header. What I can only say is OUCH!! I thought my site is gone is Google serp because the homepage was gone. I read in a forum that it will naturally restore my PR if I remove the noindex tag but for how long?

    • Once you remove the tag, Google will start to index your site again and you’ll get traffic. However, toolbar PR only updates about quarterly, so you may have to wait awhile before seeing any Page Rank.

  13. Good to hear that you got your PR back! I know quite a few bloggers who were handed out a raw deal by Google but it seems it was their fault only that cost them their pagerank.

  14. Great article. However, I have a problem with a statement here that you said: “you also lose from having too many outbound links that essentially drain your Page Rank.”

    You cannot “leak” pagerank. In fact, linking out will NOT drain your pagerank. So, linking out is actually a good thing–if you’re linking out to trusted sites.

    There is a rumor out there that you can leak pagerank or lose pagerank by linking out. Well, let’s put that rumor to rest. It’s a myth. You cannot lose PR by linking out to another site.


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