Google PageRank Explained

Google PageRank Explained
 by: Tony Zhu

Google PageRank has always been a controvertial issue among us webmasters. There seems to be many questions floating around with suggests that many people are not familier with how PageRank works. Here, I will attempt to answer some of the common questions and discard the rumors.

1. What is PageRank?

Here is what Google says:

"PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important."

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In other words, PageRank is simply a mechanical algorithm by Google that attempts to evaluate the importance of your website larged based on the amount and quality of backlinks your website have. For the more intellectual crowds out there, check out The PageRank Citation Ranking: Bringing Order to the Web .

2. How do I check the PR of a webpage?

If you use Internet Explorer, download and install the Google Toolbar. There will be a green indicator on the toolbar that tells the PR of a particular page. Hovering your mouse over the ind icator will give you a numeric value of the PR. In addition, there are numerous tools out there that will check the PR of a page without the toolbar. If you use Mozilla Firefox, you can install the PageRank Checker extention.

3. Why do I want a higher PR?

It used to be believed that a higher PR value will give you a higher position in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). However, this is no longer the case. As any experienced webmaster, and even Google themselves, would tell you, there are hundreds of factors that determine where your page is displayed in the results.

Google states that they do not recommend webmasters exchange links to increase their PR. They see it as trying to "game" their search engine. Lastly, many people believe that a higher PR causes Googlebot to crawl through a page more often.

4. Is it a good idea to buy links for a higher PR?

Websites with higher PR (6, 7, 8) often make money by selling links to sites with lower PR. As Google states, if they are aware that sites are selling PR instead of just advertising space (how they can differ the two I can't say or if, ind eed, they can), both the buyer and seller may be penalized. The penalty may take the form of a lower position in SERPs and/or a downgrade of PR. Thus, we recommend that you do not buy links simply for a higher PR.

5. But I still would like to improve the PR of my site. What should I do?

First of all, sites don't have PR, pages do. (hence the name Page Rank) Therefore, it is possible for an internal page to have a higher PR than the homepage. In order to get PR, the only way is to get links to it. Incoming backlink from a page with a higher PR is more valuable than incoming a backlink from a page with a lower PR. In addition, the PageRank that a link "gives" is spread out between the number of links on the page. For example, a backlink from a PR4 page with only two links on the page can be more valuable than a backlink from a PR7 page with fifty links on the page.

6. How many links would I need to get my homepage to PR7?

The answer to this question varies greatly between different sites. Sometimes a couple links from other PR7 or PR8 pages will do. On the other hand, you may need hundreds of backlinks from PR3 or PR4 pages.

7. I've acquired many backlinks to my site. Why isn't my PR improving?

There are many reasons why you may not be seeing the results. First of all, if you see PR5 for a page, the real PR may be PR5.0000 to PR5.9999. You have no way of knowing the exact PR of your site. Thus, you are simply not seeing the results. Secondly, Google might have done a PR algorithm update. Lastly, the PR of the pages that are giving you incoming backlinks might have changes, thus changing your PR as well.

8. How often do PR change?

Results may vary (a week to six mont hs).

9. Why is my PR in the Google Directory different than my toolbar PR?

Google uses a different scale for measuring PageRank in the Google Directory.

10. Why is it so much harder to go from PR6 to PR7 than from PR5 to PR6?

Google Pa geRank value goes up logarithmically. (i.e. going from PR9 to PR10 may look like the same as going from PR1 to PR2, but is actually 1000 times more difficult). The exact logarithmic scale is unknown, but there has been speculation that it may be around 5. (i.e. going from PR2 to PR3 is 5 times more difficult than going from PR1 to PR2)

11. I just lost all my PR!

Don't panic just yet! Check to see if your PR is white-barred or grey-barred (white or grey in the PR ind icator). If it is white barred, then your PR will probably come back. However, if your PR is greyed, then it means that Google saw your site as having used unethical SEO techniques (e.g. selling/buying PR, keyword stuffing). Also, Google sees http://example.com/abc.htm and http://www.example.com/abc.htm as two different pages. In this case, the PR of the page is spread between these two UR Ls.

12. If PR is virtually useless, then why is it so expensive to "buy"?

Over the years there has been many misconcepts about PR. Sites with higher PR claim that PR is valueable so that they can make more money selling links. Gradually, the misconceptions quietly built up.

13. What's up with the PageRank formula I see on the Net?

You may have seen a formula to determine PR. I cannot say that the formula is untrue, but it's the implementation of the formula that is in question. Just remember, the Internet is NOT all about Pagerank!

This article was posted on March 06, 2005

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