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Google Penalties

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As a part of the fight for the quality of search results, the Google search engine started to penalize websites that use invalid site promotion techniques. The penalty applies to a specific webpage or at times to an entire website.

PageRank 0 - PR0

When a certain page is penalized, its PageRank decreases to 0. This is referred to by professionals as PR0, and I shall also refer to it so further below.

The main signal of a penalty is when a webpage, a group of pages or an entire website that had a positive PR in the past suddenly has a PR0 - this can happen as a result of modifications that were made by the site's owner to the webpages, or changes in Google's algorithm that is searching for invalid site promotion techniques.

In order to learn how to check a webpage's PR, please refer to our PageRank article.

How does Google discover invalid site promotion techniques?

The search engines (allegedly) use three main methods to expose rebellious websites:

Automatic Flagging: Google's robot searches for some of the evident promotion techniques that are invalid. When a robot encounters such an incident, it will "put up a red flag".

User Reported Websites: Search engines enable (and even encourage) users to report usage of invalid promotion techniques. If you encounter a website that uses this technique, you can report it to Google via a special page dedicated to reporting websites using invalid techniques (spam).

Forums: This technique may not be official, but it seems that the people from Google read site owners' forums, and when they stumble upon a site that does not play a fair game, they take action.

Reporting a website that uses spam techniques:

Google Spam Report

How do you receive a pardon?

The PR0 penalty is usually automatic, meaning that once the search engine recognizes use of invalid optimization techniques, it will activate the penalty without human intervention. Innocent webpages may be harmed this way, but this is the only way Google can deal with the number of pages that exist in its cache. However, an automatic penalty will last a fixed time (30 days), and when the problem is fixed, there is a good chance that the page will return to its previous status.

In cases of a manual penalty or a significant deviation from site promotion norms, it is possible that the penalty will apply for a long period of time, up to a permanent penalty. Even when the domain expires and someone else purchases it, he will discover that he can't appear in Google.

The meaning of PR0 penalty

PR0 webpages are not completely removed from search results, but suffer a substantial harm to their placement in search results, which, in competitive fields, is the same as being deleted.

Why a PR0 penalty is applied

There are many opinions on this subject because of the lack of information on behalf of Google on this subject. The only way to understand the way the penalty works is by examining the common features of all penalized pages.

Following are the main reasons that can result in PR0 that is not a penalty:

A new webpage: Before you panic, it is quite possible that a page received a PR0 only because it was uploaded after the last PR update.

Checking the domain without "www": If you perform a PR check of a page with the "www" removed from the domain's name (check "" instead of, then you might definitely see a PR0 for this page. There is a difference in Google's eyes between "" and "".

A temporary Google malfunction: This may also happen quite frequently, when Google does not return the PR fast enough, or can't return it all because of a technical problem, it will be displayed as PR0 on the toolbar.

Dynamic Pages: When pages are created dynamically, Google may treat them as new webpages, and give them a PR0 as a result.

No links to the page: The page is an "orphan": there are no links pointing to it. This can sometimes be a result of linking through Flash.

There are several techniques that are considered as invalid site promotion techniques or spam as they are called professionally. Using these techniques may result in a PR0 penalty for a page or an entire website.

For additional information regarding invalid site promotion techniques, please refer to the Spam - Invalid Site Promotion Techniques article.

Does a link from a page with PR0 harm the target page?

The answer is no. If this was the case, a war would have started on the Internet, with site owners linking to their competitors to damage them. In addition, a site owner has no control over his incoming links, only his outbound ones.

Links from websites with PR0 are neither harmful nor useful with regards to your page's PR calculation, but on the other hand, the page that links to you may have received a temporary PR0, therefore a link from that page may turn into a good investment in the future.

You should avoid linking from your site to PR0 pages: since you do have control over this type of action, it may result in a penalty.

A customer that couldn't find you is your competitor's customer..

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