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Everything You Wanted to Know About PageRank But Were Afraid to Ask



In this session Dan goes over most interesting aspects of Google PageRank and explains how it all works.

Hi everyone, today we are discussing the topic of PageRank. PageRank is Google’s measure of importance of a particular page on the internet. There is a big discussion about PageRank and what it is and what it isn’t. How it works and how it flows. In this session today we will be explaining all of those concepts and quite graphically. Let’s start with the first one. PageRank is a voting system invented by Google, back in the day when it was called Backub. The concept is that by observing the link graph on the web we can ascertain how pages interact and how this voting system works between the pages. Let’s take a scenario where a very reputable page A links to a page B and lets say A is an external site and this (page B) is a completely different site. This link from page A to page B is essentially a vote from page A to page B. This link structure can develop further if website B should link to the one marked as C. C might link to E. E might link to C in return. We might have this one (page E) linking to this one (page D) and D linking to B. So this is practically a random linking structure based on the desire of these webmasters to interconnect. Google analyzes this link graph and decides pretty much how these websites will be arranged based on this endorsement reputation system.

How PageRank operates is essentially what users see through the toolbar with the PageRank feature enabled. We see the values from 0 to 10 and in some cases PageRank is not available. When PageRank is not available a little red mask is going to start panicking, saying the website or the page is penalized. That’s not always the case, fresh content that has just been discovered, an index of pages that has not been discovered by Google yet, always have PageRank NA or not available. The actual PageRank scale works from 0 to 10, 10 being the best and most authoritative, 0 being the lowest on the scale. The actual sliding scale is not as simple as that. PageRank is actually a bit more complex and works on a finer level. We might have a situation where a particular page has a PageRank of 2.63, which might result as appearing as PageRank 3 on our toolbar. So these varying degrees of this strength of a particular page, when we’re talking about a PageRank, we have to remember that that’s page rank, not site rank. There’s no such thing as Google’s SiteRank. Google measures in values, each page separately. The fact that pages do on one site, interconnect, means that PageRank generally tends to flow throughout the site, resulting in the home page being the strongest page. But that does not always have to be the case. If a particular piece of content is very interesting on your site, earning more links and better links, higher PageRank links, it can happen that a sub page of the site has a higher PageRank than the homepage.

Another element that effects PageRank and how it works is of course nofollow. Links that have nofollow tag on them, do not pass PageRank. However search engines will find out the next piece of content that is linked through nofollow tag anchor text in link. Essentially PageRank is just one of the signals that search engines use when particular Google users, to determine how well reputable and how well ranked a website should be. When it comes to PageRank updates, a lot of webmasters are asking, “When is my website going to update PageRank? I’m only PageRank 2, I wanna be PageRank 4 or 5.” It all rotates about that toolbar value. One thing that the webmasters should really know is PageRank updates all the time. Essentially as soon as Google recognizes a link pointing to your site, it will calculate the chunk of that page rank that link lends to you and assign a new PageRank value to you. Obviously Google is trying to be smart about their resources, so they’re doing public PageRank updates. Pushing the values to the toolbar only several times a year, usually around 4 times a year. In fact this year there has been a very big gap, with some sporadic updates in between. When the major update of PageRank happened in April, I think on the 1st of April and it’s November now and it still hasn’t updated. That situation happened I think back in 2006 or 7, when there was a gap between April and October, so this seems like the biggest gap. So whether webmasters are currently speculating whether Google is actually going to cancel PageRank.

One thing to keep in mind is that getting PageRank is not something we should get obsessed with. PageRank is generally a very good indication of a strength of a website and the reputation of a website. But some webmasters also tend to buy PageRank to earn that status as a net of a shortcut. So getting PageRank is something you should not obsess about, but instead look at your rankings and look after your content. However if you do wonder about how to actually get PageRank , it’s very simple. If this site A has a PageRank of 8, this website (page B) has a PageRank of 0. If you happen to link this site and let’s say this site has less than 10 outgoing links on it, because the number of outgoing links affects the effects the link will have because the number of outgoing links actually splits up the PageRank that’s shared to external links. So this one(page A) links to that one(page B), wait a couple of months for Google’s PageRank update, now keep in mind PageRank is actually already updated as soon as the link is recognized by Google. If you want to see it publically, this website (page A) links from a PageRank 8 site, in a really short period of time, pass 3 or 4 months, you get a PageRank 7.

There is a big misconception that you need to get millions and millions of links to earn a PageRank 8 or 7. It’s simple as the fact of getting a link from a website or page that is PageRank 9, simple as that. Whether it is worth doing, probably not, because there are many other factors that Google looks at when determining how your website should rank. One of them is PageRank. Of course there is onsite elements, how your tags are structured, content, number of links that point to your site, the anchor text that points in, and many other things.

Number 8, is PageRank dead? I believe that Google will eventually might phase out PageRank as a public figure and very soon start using it as an internal thing only. There is some argument as to whether that will help PageRank buying and selling and link trades and things like that, because it will be very hard for webmasters to tell what there PageRank is, they will be a little bit acting blind folded . However if they do keep the PageRank as an internal measure only, the webmaster will still have the option of exchanging links and doing all those practices, which will not really help Google very much. 

If I was to put my vote on whether PageRank is dead or not, not quite yet. There is a simple reason for that, because PageRank has been Google’s cornerstone and there a feature that has really changed the way the search engines operate and that’s what separated them from everyone else. For them to remove that would be not only a functional thing, but also something a little bit emotional. After all, Page is the surname of the founder of Google. 

This whole story here helps you understand how PageRank works and flows a little bit. Just to illustrate, if we start from PageRank 0 and end with PageRank 10 and if we consider this to be the number of websites on the internet. Lets say most websites or pages on the internet have PageRank 0 and that figure sort of goes down and we are here at the situation where we are finding less and less websites on the internet actually have high PageRank. This is just an illustration. This could be exponential. This could be a little different, there could be some variation. This essentially highlights the fact that only a few websites on the internet have 10 and a little bit more 9 and a little bit more 8, but these are still very few. Once we start getting into 7 we start seeing more and more in terms of numbers. 6 and 5, these are quite common. Pretty much PageRank between 0 and 4, a big majority of the internet actually applies to those figures. 

That’s all about PageRank for now, if you have any more questions, feel free to ask and stay with us for the next weeks video, in which we will explain another very interesting topic. Thanks guys and see you next week.

Dan Petrovic, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.

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