coderrr

May 25, 2012

What to do when Google PR0s your business

Filed under: google — Tags: — coderrr @ 3:59 pm

Update
Matt Cutts seems to have confirmed that this is just an issue with PR reporting and not an actual issue with our PR. He suggests only using the official Google Toolbar (for Internet Explorer) to check Page Rank.

Today, we woke up to one of the most frightening scenarios imaginable for young entrepreneurs trying to bootstrap. Google had completely removed the PageRank rating from our site https://www.privateinternetaccess.com which is one of the most recommended VPN service providers. Yesterday, we were a PR6 site with incoming links from TorrentFreak, LifeHacker, Slashdot, Freenode.net, MIUI.us, Modaco.com, BlockExplorer.com, as well as many other high ranking sites. Today, we are a PR N/A site. The lowest possible rating.

After discovering this, we immediately began investigating the possible causes of this dreadful scenario. We checked multitudes of other websites’ PR ratings to make sure this wasn’t some obscure Google bug affecting the whole internet or some segment of it. We checked Google Webmaster Tools to see if there were any critical crawl errors on our site. We submitted a Reconsideration Request through Webmaster Tools indicating that we are a very legitimate site and could not identify any reason for the PR removal. We searched for an attack where someone might be spamming our links to intentionally hurt us. We found no evidence of this.

What changed recently?
- We had approximately 1 hour of downtime due to a Linode network outage in their New Jersey data center (NAC).
- We have had many new affiliates linking to us, some of which operate websites that are in the top 200 rankings of Alexa.
- We have had a high volume of incoming organic links from customers promoting our service to their respective forum communities and social circles.
- We recently had a post published on Falkvinge.net.
- And for the more conspiracy theory inclined, we decided not to go forward with a (Google Ventures backed) Trada marketing campaign. (Please note we’re not indicting Trada here, we’re just trying to be as thorough as possible.)

Researching what can cause a PR removal we found some of the reasons to be:
- Selling links
- Buying links
- Links from Bad Neighborhoods
- Web SPAM Links
We do not fall under these criteria. We only perform SEO in an ethical manner. We steer far clear of anything that would be deemed blackhat.

We’re really at a total loss as to what caused this and are quite afraid of how this will affect our business. While we currently still rank in VPN related searches, it seems that PR removal will slowly remove you from the search results over time. It can even result in a complete deletion from the index.

We aren’t looking to bash Google or their algorithm. We’re simply looking for some help in this issue and, hopefully, to provide valuable information to other entrepreneurs in case this happens to them.

If you have any information, or your name is Matt Cutts, please leave a comment or contact us at google@privateinternetaccess.com.

And a note to our existing customers – this will not in any way affect the quality of our service. We will continue to work hard on improving our service and providing you with the best possible user experience.

13 Comments »

  1. Give it time…

    Comment by Anonymous — May 25, 2012 @ 5:10 pm

  2. Perhaps this is connected to the 1M links removed by Google due to DMCA? I can imagine the connection between VPN and torrents/illegal activity, perhaps some of your PR was drowned in the process? Hope this gets fixed soon!

    Comment by Cory Dolphin (@wcdolphin) — May 25, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

    • This is something we thought of too even though we aren’t really linked to from any torrent sites. But we dismissed this after not being able to find any other PR0′d sites of that genre.

      Comment by coderrr — May 25, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

      • “Yesterday, we were a PR6 site with incoming links from TorrentFreak”

        Comment by trisweb@hotmail.com — May 25, 2012 @ 6:07 pm

  3. Do you remember what the Google CEO said?

    “If you have something that you do not want anyone to know, maybe you should not be doing it in the first place.”

    Your VPN service is all about that.

    Comment by Crown — May 25, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

    • It’d be great if we got PR0′d because the Google CEO doesn’t like VPNs. That’d be some awesome publicity. Although I highly doubt that’s the case.

      Comment by coderrr — May 25, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

  4. It looks as though your entire site is down.

    Comment by Anon — May 25, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

    • The site is up for me. Where are you trying to access it from? Some countries block our DNS.

      Comment by coderrr — May 25, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

  5. I see PR6 for your site, from Spain. Tryied a couple of browsers and a command line script, and always get the same PR: 6

    Comment by Cris — May 25, 2012 @ 9:48 pm

  6. A sites pagerank means nothing. Unless you’re selling links or playing who’s dick is bigger with your friends.

    Comment by Garrett Smith — May 25, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

  7. Site is Down

    Comment by luis — May 26, 2012 @ 1:48 am

  8. Perhaps this is due to Google being shit?

    Comment by Anonymous — May 26, 2012 @ 2:58 am

  9. You are still PR 6. I checked it myself. If you check using the https:// you receive a n/a PR but if you use http:// you receive a PR of 6 get the difference?

    Comment by Kieran — July 10, 2012 @ 12:31 am


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