What Does The Gray Google PageRank Bar Mean?

Apr 21, 2009 • 8:52 am | comments (7) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google PageRank & Algorithm Updates

The last time we discussed the grey PageRank Google toolbar indicator was just about two years ago. It was then when the gray/grey color changed from meaning banned to having no clear meaning. Back then, there was a blank white bar and a blank gray bar, both with PR0s. White meant PageRank was not yet calculated for the page, gray likely meant a ban or penalty. This is no longer the case.

Here is a picture of gray:

Grey PageRank Google Toolbar

Today, we have a thread at WebmasterWorld discussing what the gray bar means. There are a few theories that I will share with you.

One person thinks that gray is given to pages with not enough PageRank to reach the 1 level. Another person thinks that pages in the supplemental index receives gray. Some believe that pages with penalties still receive the gray indicator. Let me quote Tedster's post on this topic:

It is no longer true that any url gets the TBPR that it earns. Some types of pages (lists of links for example) seem to get flagged as an automaic gray bar - and that's that. I used to think this was manual, and in the beginning it may have been. But now I think that original "seed set" has been used to generate a machine-learning algo that is intended to locate other pages of the same nature. This approach to various segmants of the algo is something that is more and more in use. All those PhD in Statistics folks need something to do, right?

For a while, my theoretical algorithm was misfiring quite a bit and the mysterious graybar disease was nearly epidemic. Just this past month, I'm seeing some of those peculiar gray bars come back to white or even green. That could indicate either that the machine-learning has improved, or something about its logic has been tweaked.

Can it be a form of artificial PageRank, is it Google classifying certain pages in a group, is it pages in the supplemental index or is it just nothing?

I wonder if we can get a response from Google on this, knowing that we should not live and die by what the PageRank indicator says in the Google Toolbar.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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04/21/2009 01:26 pm

an example is this page, it has a very strong domain, but the page is weak as its external links are still being built.

Barry Schwartz

04/21/2009 01:27 pm

This page was created 30 minutes ago.


04/21/2009 01:31 pm

Yes Banned was the old thought, Then there used to be Zero. These days we see more Gray than the Zero PR.


04/21/2009 02:08 pm

Pages like "contact" and "T&C's" seem to always start out grey.. Me thinks is more to do with content about a theme of the site e.g. a contact page on a site about flowers has no relevance to flowers.


04/21/2009 02:34 pm

I find that pages with a gray PR are very low trafficked pages, regardless of if they have been around for a while. Of course, they could just have low traffic because the lack of PR... vicious cycle.


04/22/2009 04:13 pm

Actually Barry, I notice that some directory lists do get PR.... in fact there is one on from-mom.com that has PageRank fo 4. Weird but reality is that after the domain gets trust, and the page is linked right, internal ages can get trust too.... Anyhow, this was interesting to read because I truly wonder what PageRank is up to next...

Chris McElroy

04/23/2009 01:59 pm

I always hear that the main page gets PR, then passes some of it to interior pages. Not strictly true. There are sites where interior pages have higher PR than the main page. Search bots crawl and index web pages, not websites. It's an old saying, but true. If you build links to interior pages of your website, or more people depp link directly to content they like on an interior page of your website, then it is possible for that page to get a higher PR and even rank better in the search engines than your home page. Back on topic. I think the groups theory may be right. I am seeing article directories getting a grayed out bar more and more often now. And I know it isn't based on the amount of traffic, because one specific article directory that got grayed out has a ton of traffic. I hope google does explain this. Are you listening Matt Cutts? :)

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