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I've personally never seen a default Page Rank given, particularly not PR5, except in cases where it's a site hosted on another site where it's a toolbar Page Rank guess based on proximity to the root of the host domain, which I call "Phantom Page Rank." You see it, but it's not really there. The best I've seen, related to PR5, is that a brand new site came into Google's index with PR4 with only one link from a PR5 page that has about a dozen outbound links and a dozen internal links on it. I'm assuming it's a high end PR5, but the new site had no PR until the update that reflected that link.
There can't, as far as I know, be PR without calculating the value of links to a page, but just because links less than PR4 aren't showing up at Google, I'm not certain that they don't count for Page Rank or contribute some of the other value that inbound links can have. In fact, unless they're penalized I won't let that stop me from getting a link from or linking out to pages with PR3 or if they're new sites I know won't end up bad neighborhoods, even less than PR3.
ODP is a great place to start, but there are some quality sites out there that aren't in ODP that it's also worth exchanging with or linking to. So when you find good sites, check out who's linking to them, plus their links pages to see who they're linking to. There are some great sites that aren't that easy to find, they may not have directory listings or search engine rankings, but may be high quality enough to have Page Rank from links based on sheer merit and some can also send you some good traffic. There are some real gems that can be found by following a series of links from one site to another.
We also have to remember that there are other philosophies and very practical reasons behind linking that seem to always get buried under the Page Rank issue, but they're definitely worth exploring in depth to get a balanced, realistic view and also derive the benefits we can miss out on by taking a limited approach.
It's been a while since we've had a discussion on this, so let's explore it a bit further and see if we can come up with some fresh and innovative insights.
As long as the sites your exchanging links with are within a theme related to your site and offer good content which could be of use to your visitors then it isn't essential that they have a high PR.
As Marcia stated this has the added benefits of not only driving highly relevant targeted traffic to your site but could also, in time, establish you as either an authority or hub wihtin your industry.
As I understand it Google gives greater importance to sites that are within a theme. This includes Title, Text, Links and Link Text. So as long as you are linking to sites that are within a theme related to you I wouldn't worry too much about thier PR. :)
there is actually no such thing as "Site PageRank", this is strictly a page by page occurence. When people refer to "my site is PR5" they tend to mean that their mainpage of the site has PageRank 5 and no different than telling someone your domain (we tend to say "my domain is something.com vice [something.com...]
PageRank received is also divided by the actual number of outgoing links on the page. Therefore a links page with 4 links on it (one is to you) you would in fact receive "about" one quarter of the actual PageRank that can be transferred (total transferable PageRank [all links out] is approximately 85% of the page's actual value).
[edited by: fathom at 9:21 am (utc) on Oct. 22, 2002]
Depending on where the links page is situated within the site, whether the home page is linked to it, and taking into account the amount of links on the page decides on how much PR you will be assigned through the link.
Read Page Rank Uncovered by Chris Ridings, he explains the intricacies involved with PR and gives an example of the Google algorithm for calculating PR in an easyily understandable way.
Hope this helps:)
There's a good thread going in the Google News forum now about reciprocal vs. non-reciprocal linking that's worth a read:
Search engine algorithms do change, and the relative weight of PR in scoring can vary, anyway. So even a PR boost can't guarantee rankings; sometimes other factors get more weight, depending on the ebb and flow of the tide.