Myths and Truths About Google GrayBar PR

Toolbar PR is something many webmasters have no more trust in. The common opinions are:

  • PR (change) often seems to have nothing to do with rankings;
  • Toolbar PR seems not to reflect the true website authority.

Believe it or not, but Toolbar PR really means something. Of course it will not show you the full picture (there are millions of sites and hundreds of niches and only ten green pixels to evaluate them); however it does play the role of the barometer for you to see what the site is worth.

A fascinating discussion on GrayBar PR is taking place at WebmasterWorld Forums that should definitely be summarized here.

2 opposing opinions on Graybar PR expressed:

  • TBPR (and consequently Graybar PR) is just broken (as well as Google back link operator).

OR: Both Toolbar PR and Back link operator are not broken but “de-SEO-usefulised“. Google uses them for disinformation.

  • Graybar PR plays the role of a warning:

the message might be that the page has been algorithmically flagged as looking like the kind of page that might be selling links. If this is the message, it would be directed both to the potential link buyer (to fuzz up what the TBPR of the page is) and to the potential link seller (as a note that Google is watching this page).

Graybar PR might also mean the page was dropped out of index (or just not indexed yet) or penalized for infringing the guidelines.

Graybar PR facts:

  • FACT: gray PR is not the same as PR 0 (zero);
  • FACT: graybar PR can mean the site is new and has not yet been into PR update;
  • FACT: gray PR doesn’t directly mean the site is penalized or is deindexed;
  • FACT: gray PR can be a signal of improper behavior (more checks are needed to make sure your OK / not OK);
  • FACT: Toolbar PR can change and even become gray with no impact on performance;
  • FACT: if gray PR did not effect other aspects of your site web life (rankings, number of indexed pages, etc), that might be a glitch inherent in the bar (wait a bit and see; or try to open the page in other browsers). Another possible signal of a glitch is that TBPR goes gray without waiting for the next PR update.
Ann Smarty
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing, tutorials and her guest blogging project,
Ann Smarty

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26 thoughts on “Myths and Truths About Google GrayBar PR

  1. Nice post, Ann! Could you tell us something about alexa and compete tool bars as well? That would really great…

  2. Thanks Ann.

    I do try and ignore pagerank but something pulls me to check pr everytime I visit a site.

    I guess it is such a quick indicator that you do not need to go looking deeper unless you want to.

    I do remind myself that it is only a snapshot of a website that is outdated.

  3. The Google toolbar is the only quick measuring stick out there. I think it is a decent indicator for basic assumptions about a page. And gray is never a good thing :-)

  4. Ann, sent in a long comment (too long to be posted it appears) explaining why I believe the new PR calculation will cause a great deal more of pages to go “gray”. Would like to know your opinion.

  5. So often webmaster fret about a PR change and don’t see their traffic change. Show’s somewhat the irrelevance surely of PR.

    Anywho, the bit I’m interested in is that other webmasters use it as a measuring stick for website value, which means a great deal for link-builders, advertisising space sellers and site sellers.

    Ben M

  6. Have had a site go Grey – with no noticeable drop in organic traffic – after a few weeks it regained its PR – with again – no noticeable drop in traffic or rank.

    Could it also possibly depend on how competivie the segment/niche is?

  7. you mentioned the Google back link operator is broken…do you have more info on that? (i mentioned some strange decrease of our backlinks recently)

  8. So put simply, if a page has a decent PR then it’s usually a safe page to link from (until the next TBPR update I guess) and if it has a grey TBPR then not all is lost. Very vague at best.

    However I believe the real message is that we simply shouldn’t obsess over the TBPR.

    Oh, I’m using SEO Quake, no pixels there, just an integer. 😉

  9. @Petar, Google’s being a bit more coy about providing information on backlinks. Try Yahoo Site Explorer…

    …that should provide a bit more light on the subject for you. And you might be pleasantly surprised if you’ve been checking links just in Google for a while.

  10. The basic Funda of Gray Page Rank is:

    1) It’s a new website & not yet been assigned any page rank.

    2) Even if a website is old & have very few web pages (2 or 3) then also it would be in gray color.

  11. Ayush, There are many more reasons than this. You could have a PR of 6 and go gray if that page is

    1. Under investigation by Google
    2. has a syntax issue
    3. has broken outbound links.

    To name just three other reasons.

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  13. Nice Post Ann. Recently I bought 2 domains in the computer/laptop batteries niche, and for some reason, even though it was a PR3 when I got it, changed to a gray bar within a few days after that. It is now over 3 weeks and still no change. One site still has links to old pages on the site, but the other has absolutely no pages indexed! Hope it has not been banned.