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Does Page Rank Still Matter? - 2010 edition

 12:40 am on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have noticed over time that depending on the right combination of keywords low ranking sites out do high ranking ones in the serps.

I realise that their is a lot of argument about this topic and that most directories still sort there site by pr but to google in the grand scheme of things does it really matter.



 5:21 am on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

This question comes up all the time - in fact, we try only to have the discussion once a year or so, and this will be the 2010 thread.

No doubt in my mind, PageRank still does matter -- along with 200 other signals or so. In fact it matters more than many of them, but a PR1 page can still outrank a PR5 page on any given query.


 5:49 am on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

And it's still (for years) a classic beginner question why a PR1 page can outrank a PR5 page ;)


 6:38 am on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Matter for what? I believe that it doesn't affect rankings directly, but it is a simple indicator of some of the variables of rankings. For me, it is a hell of a good way to diagnose my own pages, crawler access, link flow, and etc.


 7:19 am on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think it matters very much as one of the prime drivers amongst the so called 200 signals Google looks for. In isolation it may not help rankings .

The other issue as mentioned here , is that a site is going to have limited indexing power without a shot of link juice. The green TBPR is the best indicator of that , even though Google's hidden PR may tell a different story.


 7:37 am on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

The problem with the TBPR, which I run into on a daily basis is when I am running link building, is that the focus tends to end up only on PR.

I have had link-builders say "we have gotten 10 PR5 links bla bla bla..." but the links tend to be of little or no value because of non-related content or a gazillion other links on the page to bad neighborhoods.

I tend to focus on other parameters more strongly than the TBPR. I would, for example be happy to get a link from a page with TBPR0 - if the other signals I check for provide value.

I'm not saying don't look at TBPR, I do use it for some analysis. I am saying however that if your linking pitch is "this is a PR4 website" ... well then good luck with that.


 11:43 am on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

IMO, the PageRank matters highly in some countries than others. In other words, the importance of PR given by Google in SERP changes with different countries.


 1:06 pm on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

In other words, the importance of PR given by Google in SERP changes with different countries.

I find the whole discussion of Pagerank difficult. To me, Pagerank is an "external indication", not a "ranking factor" itself. Pagerank is based on the authority of the website in question which is based on the authority of the websites linking to it.

That is THEN given a numerical badge of honour.

Pagerank (the number) means nothing in relation to ranking. Authorative backlinks are simply huge in affecting ranking, however. If we're talking about the authorative backlinks that Pagerank is based on, then that not only matters, it is the single most important thing you can do.

The number is so unimportant: e.g. pages drop Pagerank all the time from 6 to 5 or 4 to 3 simply because the number of web pages used in the algorithm has increased dramatically. The SERPS are totally unaffected by such a drop in Pagerank.

For me, it is a hell of a good way to diagnose my own pages, crawler access, link flow, and etc.

Totally agree.


 2:53 pm on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

I agree with internetheaven saying " To me, Pagerank is an "external indication", not a "ranking factor" itself.


 4:21 pm on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Okay... let's be clear.

PageRank - Important for rankings (i.e. numerical value of link juice)

Toolbar PageRank - does more harm than good IMO and can really throw you off.


 4:42 pm on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Okay... let's be clear.

PageRank - Important for rankings (i.e. numerical value of link juice)

But that's not clear at all, that's the confusion.

If Pagerank is, as you said, a numerical value of link juice - then it is not important for rankings. We're either talking about Authorative Linking or we're talking about the Green Number - it can't be both.

The Green Number of the Authorative Link is user-side information only.

This has to be one of the most pointless questions I've seen asked as a thread starter. Pagerank is an algorithm for quantifying the authority of a site. It isn't anchor text, it isn't title meta tags ... it's not a ranking point of it's own accord. You cannot increase Pagerank without increasing backlinks so the question "do backlinks still matter" is the real question being asked and any one that says backlinks don't matter is, well, insane.


 4:54 pm on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

How about this way of thinking: Google determines the final ranking for a URL by combining factors from two different buckets.

Bucket #1 contains "query dependent factors" -- relevance measures such as title elements, backlink anchor text, user intention, etc.

Bucket #2 contains "query independent factors" such as PageRank, trust, neighborhood quality, presence of malware, etc.

Bucket #1 carries more of the weight for the final ranking order than Bucket #2 does, but they BOTH are in play.

[edited by: tedster at 5:14 pm (utc) on Mar 12, 2010]


 5:00 pm on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

How about this way of thinking

tedster, this is why people come to Webmaster World ~ what a great summation of a complex subject. Thanx!



 6:19 pm on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

No offense meant, tedster, but how does that help a discussion on whether "Pagerank" itself is relevant or defining what Pagerank is?

The problem I see is that people think that Pagerank exists on it's own as a ranking factor i.e. Google assigns a number and then uses that number to affect ranking. Pagerank is based on the number and quality of the number and quality of inbound links. (That wasn't accidental repetition!) "Pagerank" is just a short name for a lengthy inbound linking quality algorithm.

The fact that such is in "Bucket 2" I think is generally accepted by most people posting.

What do you think Pagerank is? That clarification is what is needed to decide whether it is relevant, not whether the anchor text of a link is used differently from the quality of the link.


 6:59 pm on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

The PageRank value for any URL can be understood pretty well by thinking about a "random walk" around the web:
  1. Begin on any old web page -- anywhere at all.
  2. Click on a random link somewhere on that page.
  3. Continue doing this indefinitely.
PageRank is the probability that you will eventually end up on that URL.

So, if a URL has a PageRank of 5, then there is a 50% chance that your random walk will eventually take you there. And moving up from a 50% chance to a 60% chance takes a lot more links than moving from a 10% chance to a 20% chance would require.

The mathematics that Google uses to create their model for this "random walk" has changed several times since the original formula was published, and the details of those changes have not been made public. For instance, my guess for one change is that a "random link" in step 2 is no longer strictly random. Instead, it is weighted according to what area of the page actually holds the link. The original formula did no such weighting.


 9:42 pm on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

This question has been on my mind since my first post. Can it be tested?

If I were to take 5-10 of my PR5+ pages that are noindex/follow and place links to a PR0 or PR1 website to increase it's Pagerank ... is that even a test?

Even though the pages are noindex, the other thread I've been posting suggested that Google still "reads" the anchor text as well as passing Pagerank.

Is there any way to increase the Pagerank of a page without increasing backlinks/anchor text etc. (i.e. other variables that could increase ranking)?


 10:09 pm on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

The PageRank calculation is iterated - done around the entire web graph time after time, until the effect of the "damping factor" keeps the numbers from changing in any significant way. This alone makes it very difficult to replicate on any smaller, more local scale. Then throw in the factor that the exact math has been changed, but we don't know how.

I think that makes if difficult to test - very difficult. Anchor text is not a factor in PageRank, so you can throw out that variable. But there are many other factors that are quite uncertain - for example, the artificial bump given to "Mom & Pop" sites.

There was also some talk out of Google (around the Big Daddy change I think) that a new mathematical formula for PR was introduced to allow faster, continual calculations. From what I recall, this new approach didn't require actual iteration around the entire web graph, but rather it gave a very good approximation without such resource-intensive number crunching. Some kind of phase space vector math, I assumed at the time.

More speculation about that - the new "approximation" method could also require occasional full blown calculations, in order to correct for the numerical drift that the approximation introduced.


 11:56 pm on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm not saying don't look at TBPR

Well, then I am. I haven't looked at that green bar one single time for at least 4-5 years, possibly six years. It is not a thing I consider when looking at a page or site. Not at all.

Ranking is totally independent of TBPR. Forget the toolbar.

Also, PageRank is not Toolbar PR. These are two separate things.


 12:15 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

The best indicator I know of today for how much Google values your pages is how often they spider each one. And even that's not infallible because a strong page that rarely changes may stop getting checked as often. Not only that, but it's pretty hard to see such information about your competition.

So your natural recourse is to monitor the search traffic that you actually get from Google. Server log analysis was never more important. Not just "up or down" but really digging into the full search phrases your traffic is using and what pages they find by those searches. There's absolute gold in there.

I agree that TBPR is of minimal value - but I still find some value there, especially when all I want is a general ballpark idea of what's going on.


 12:39 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I mentioned PageRank doesn't matter from the google mouth back on the 3rd. See it again:



 12:51 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I get you, however Norvig said that Pagerank is "over-hyped", not that it "doesn't matter". I'm not just nit-picking here, that's a very real difference.


 2:46 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

tedster, agreed at the parsing of words. I do think, however, the fact that a google researcher mentions even that much is something to consider. I'll go back to my peanut gallery seat now. :)


 2:54 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I agree - and I agree with Norvig. Especially with the toolbar as a marketing tool, Google created a juggernaut that got seriously out of control.

When people first gain an introductory knowledge of Google's technology, they usually go over the top about PageRank. The interwebs have been full of such discussions for years now, and it cripples new webmasters and online marketers. It created a paid link market that distorts the web to this day. And it absorbs important resources that would be better spent improving the core content and functionality of a site - the reason the business exists in the first place, to serve its public.


 3:19 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I agree it's over-hyped, but the only reason it's over-hyped is because Google insists on displaying the 'Green Pixel Dust' in the stinking toolbar. If they would stop publishing the inaccurate, out-of-date, green idiot lights people would stop talking about it and hyping it and maybe links (even paid) would be based more on topicality and quality of site/page than on which page has the most inbounds from who cares where, because it's got a 'High PageRank', so it must be a good link to buy... TBPR is like when they forget to reset the 'change oil light' on your car... It doesn't mean anything real, except at some point in time you needed to change your oil, whether you need to do it right now or not is a completely different story.

Yeah, the real calculation still matters, but the 'fool bar display' only matters to PR sellers and the people who don't know well enough to completely ignore it and look at other signals instead.

Personally, I haven't looked at the PR of a site in over a year and somehow the sites I visit still work the same, still provide the same information, and yeah, my sites still rank the same or better than they did. How do I live without it? Better... It keeps the meaningless distractions down so I can concentrate on more important things like building better websites instead of building higher PageRank.

Edited: Gave away a bit too much for a minute. lol.


 5:54 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you own a 1000+ URL site you really need PR otherwise your site won't be indexed.


 6:34 am on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google indexes everything. That's what they do.

Bing, too. And that other SE we lust after...

But not everything indexed shows up. Been that way since the web and search engines appeared.

I don't expect that to change very much.


 5:39 pm on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think PR is valuable as a ranking factor, but we have no way of knowing what the Page Rank is for any page on the web. The Google toolbar gives us a little bit of information about what is going on, but it's in my opinion no more than the tip of the iceberg.

What we do know is pagerank is a value assigned to all pages in the index, based on links that point to that page. What can we learn from this? Simply that good quality links will help you in Google. Do we really need to know a numerical value? Is it not enough to know that Links work, so lets get them?

The green bar on the Google toolbar is really nothing more than a toy. That is why I don't even have the toolbar.

Google insists on displaying the 'Green Pixel Dust' in the stinking toolbar

Thats an advanced feature than you need to enable :)



 6:12 pm on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Norvig is discussing internal PR and how it is not the entire algorithm, which is something lost on the average webmaster. Now if that's the feeling about internal PR, think of what the implications are for the simulated PR shown on the toolbar.

A common question about Yahoo rankings is why is it so different than Google. I have seen examples where thousands of low to zero pagerank links can push a site into the number one position in Google but not in Yahoo. Yahoo fairly consistently ranks high-trust TLDs but not necessarily the most relevant pages where a .com is a known authority. What is Google doing that Yahoo is not? Why does Yahoo discount low-linked sites but Google seems to give them ranking power? The reason it works, imo, is because Google is taking into account more than the backlinks of the pages that are linking to a ranked site.

Yahoo is discounting those low-PR links but Google is not. So I started thinking about why this would be so. In this particular situation, what Google seems to be taking into account is the relevance of the page (and perhaps other factors related to trust that play a different role). These web pages are mostly PR zero. So if the toolbar PR is zero but Google is ascribing ranking power to those pages to the page being linked, then the implication is there are other factors other than PageRank at work helping these sites to rank. Factors that Yahoo is not considering.

If the above is true, and I believe it to be true for several years now based on my experiences, it's time to reconsider the toolbar PR of the pages as a link-building metric and focus on other metrics related to trust and relevance. I personally feel that anyone who uses that as a metric is overlooking other more useful metrics. As Norvig states, the PR is but one of many components of the algorithm. Trust your eyes. Look at the SERPs. Ask yourself why the SERPs are not ordered in descending order by PageRank. Ask why low PR pages outrank higher PR pages about the same topic.

These ideas may be new for some in 2010, but it's actually quite old. It's 2010 but webmasters continue working like it's 2003, for instance, the belief that links from PR 4+ sites are more worthy. It's astounding that webmasters continue working in that mode. If webmasters want to get ahead, and this has been said for years and years, it's nothing new, you have to let go of the toolbar.


 7:27 pm on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

Interesting comment about PageRank and crawling, from Eric Enge's newly published interview with Matt Cutts:

The best way to think about it is that the number of pages that we crawl is roughly proportional to your PageRank. So if you have a lot of incoming links on your root page, we'll definitely crawl that. Then your root page may link to other pages, and those will get PageRank and we'll crawl those as well. As you get deeper and deeper in your site, however, PageRank tends to decline.



 8:01 pm on Mar 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

It reinforces the concept of the pyramid theme, but also ponts out the importance of getting ibl's to sectional index pages or deep links in general.


This 58 message thread spans 2 pages: 58 ( [1] 2 > >
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