Macro - 12:59 pm on Feb 15, 2005 (gmt 0) [edited by: tedster at 1:24 am (utc) on Apr 3, 2010]
There seem to be a lot of questions around WW that suggest some people aren't familiar with PR and how it works. I've put this thread together in an attempt to answer questions that would save new members posting basic PR questions. Hope it's useful to them.
What is Page Rank (PR)?
This is Google's take:
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.
How can I check my PR?
If you install the Google Toolbar (available here [google.com]) you will see a green indicator in your Internet Explorer toolbar showing you the PR of the page. Hovering over the green bar will give you a number which is the page's PR. If you don't have the toolbar you can still check an individual page's PR using many tools [google.com] on the internet. There are also toolbars for Firefox users, like this example [pagerankstatus.mozdev.org].
How does page rank affect your listing in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages)?
It doesn't. [*see note at bottom] There was a time when higher page rank pages were more likely to feature ahead of lower PR pages but that is not the case anymore as a few seaches will demonstrate. There are a lot of other factors that affect where your page is displayed in the results. Google states that it does not recommend webmasters exchange links to increase their PR. Google sees that as trying to "game" their search engine. It is generally accepted that exchanging/buying links purely for PR is a waste of time (and, in fact, can have detrimental effects).
What detrimental effects will I face for buying PR?
Sites with higher PR often make money by selling links on their high PR pages. If Google is aware that they are selling PR rather than just selling ad space (don't ask me how Google can tell the difference or if, indeed, they can) Google may penalise both the seller and buyer. This can take the form of lowering where you appear in the results but may not necessarily result in a downgrade of the PR you see in the toolbar.
I'd still like to improve the Page Rank of my site?
First, sites don't have PR, pages do. That's why it's possible for an internal page to have a higher PR than the home page. The way a page gets PR is from links to it and that's the only way of improving PR. IBLs (incoming backlinks) from high PR pages can give you more PR than links from low PR pages. There is one other factor at play. The PR they "give" is spread over the number of outgoing links on the pages. You may get more PR benefit from a PR3 page with only two outbound links than a PR7 page with hundreds of outbound links.
What links do I need to get to take my homepage to PR6
There isn't a quick answer to that. One link from a good PR7 page (or indeed a high PR6 page) could give you a PR6. OTOH, you may need hundreds of links from PR3 and 4 pages to get to a PR6. By the same measure a link from a PR3 page that subsequently rises to a PR7 will rise in value as the "giving" page's PR keeps improving.
I've added a lot of IBLs but I don't see my PR changing/my PR has dropped
There are several reasons why you may not be seeing the result. First, a PR5 ranges all the way from a PR5.00001 to a PR5.99999. You could have improved from a 5.0 to a 5.9 and you'll have no way of knowing it from the PR toolbar. Second, the value of a PR5 itself could have changed. So, even if you were on a PR5.9, added a lot in IBLs, and still didn't make it to a 6.0 it could be because the scale has changed and, though you are still at 5.9 the 5.9 is more valuable than it was before. Third, the value of the pages that are linking to you would have likely changed themselves so the PR they are giving you probably changed.
How often does the PR change?
This could vary widely. It may be a month or six months before Google revise the PR across all the pages they've indexed. One thing you can be sure off: When Google revises PR there'll be at least one thread here about it. :)
Will they inform me when they revise PR?
Help, I've lost all PR!
Before panic sets in check whether you are grey barred or white barred. If the toolbar shows white for the page it's not been barred and your PR will probably come back. Note also that Google sees http://www.example.com/widget.htm, http://www.example.com/widget.html, and http://example.com/widget.htm as three different pages. If you have links coming to all three then your incoming PR is being shared by those three pages.
Why is my PR more in the Google directory than it is on the toolbar?
The Google directory uses a different scale to the toolbar.
It was easy to get from a PR4 to a PR5 but it's taking much longer to get to a PR6, why's that?
The PR scale is not linear, it's logarithmic [dictionary.reference.com] i.e. moving from a PR9 to a PR10 make look like a one point increase and require the same amount of effort as going from PR1 to PR2 but that's not the case. It is thousands of times more difficult. The exact log scale used is unknown but there has been speculation here that it could be around "5".
How can I retain PR on my site and prevent it from going to other sites?
If PR is virtually useless from the point of view of Google traffic then why did you ramble on for so long and cover all those point?
PR still has value to some. People selling sites may get a higher price as not all buyers realise that PR has very little value. Webmasters selling text links on their sites can get more money for the ads they sell. There are other such uses for higher PR. For example, it is believed that sites with higher PR pages get indexed more often.
So if PR doesn't determine how I rank then what does?
That's the million dollar question. :) Nobody knows for sure except Google themselves. But if you spend enough time browsing here - and filtering the noise - you may get a better idea of what works and what doesn't.
Any other questions we should have here?
< Note: this particular assertion has proven to be an overstatement
of the situation. PR does affect ranking, but it is only one of many factors.
- Jan 8, 2007 >
[edited by: tedster at 1:24 am (utc) on Apr 3, 2010]