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Thursday, June 8, 2006

High-PR Frontpage, But Other Pages Unranked?

I talked to Markus Kohlmüller of shopping site earlier today. They’re experiencing an interesting phenomenon that can also be seen on sites like and; while their homepage has a high PageRank 8, most or all other pages on the domain have a zero PageRank, including many older pages which we might think would inherit the homepage rank to some extent. Also, their domain shows a zero PageRank in the Google Directory even though they’ve not been down to PR0 visible at anytime in the past year, according to Markus’ statements.

What’s happening – is this some kind of special penalty? Does get ignored by Google for some reason? I asked Markus if they did anything Google might object to, and he told me they bought a backlink from once (weird things are going on in the Webglimpse footer; several unrelated pages are linked, and for some of them, links are styled so they look like perfectly normal text; are these paid but not declared as such?). Yopi stopped buying backlinks in 2005, though, Markus said. In late 2005, Yopi also changed their URL architecture, but that was already after many sites seemingly were removed from the Google index, around the same time Yopi briefly tried Google Sitemaps (I doubt there’s a connection between the missing pages and Google Sitemaps, though).

The problems for Yopi didn’t stop here, though. During the Bigdaddy ranking changes rollout this year, they were suffering what Markus refers to as “Supplemental Hell” – “normal” results marked as Supplemental, which makes them rank behind normal pages.

I referred Markus to Tadeusz from Berlin, an SEO who also comments along here, and then suggested to him:

The philosophy behind most of these suggestions, as you can see, is that to have a well-ranked site one need not know much about SEO and just do a “normal” good website – after all, it would hurt Google’s ranking quality if Google would prefer SEO’d websites, as many, many good websites are not SEO’d. And while outside of Google we don’t know anything about Google’s ranking algorithms except for the traces we see here and there in result shuffles, we do know one thing: they will always be interested in delivering high-quality results (they often fail – take a look at German search results for, say, digitalkamera test preisvergleich – but that’s not the point). Ironically, the main part of good SEO seems to be to identify bad SEO for the client so they can stay away from it.

I also argued Yopi shouldn’t worry about competitors complaining about Yopi spam unless the competitors can prove the spam is on the domain. Otherwise, everyone could spam a guestbook pretending it’s company XYZ and then file a spam report to Google about XYZ. There’s an interesting official piece from the Google homepage though, and this might be related to what people refer to as “Google bowling” – note the word I emphasized:

Fiction: A competitor can ruin a site’s ranking somehow or have another site removed from Google’s index.
Fact: There’s almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. Your rank and your inclusion are dependent on factors under your control as a webmaster, including content choices and site design.

There’s almost nothing a competitor can do to harm ones site? So, there is something the competitor can do...?

Other than that, this specific phenomenon of a high-ranked homepage with non-ranked sub-pages was new to me. It’s quite normal that a full doman gets the Google axe, but then the frontpage will have a PR0 as well. With Yopi, it seems to be some sort of Google axe for a potential past sin, but maybe it’s a smaller axe!


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