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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.