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Google PR - PageRank FAQs



12:59 pm on Feb 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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.

More... [google.com]

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?

There are various ways people try to "horde" PR. They use javascript or a cgi when they are linking to outside pages in the hope that Google won't see these as links and therefore not take any PR away from the site. That is misguided. As a study of current search results show pages that appear high in the results sometimes have a lot of outgoing links and are ranked high in SERPs because of that. So, yes, it may improve your PR if you shield/mask outgoing links but that will likely be at the expense of losing you some Google traffic.

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.
- Tedster
- Jan 8, 2007 >

[edited by: tedster at 1:24 am (utc) on Apr 3, 2010]


11:44 am on Feb 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Does PR affect or not affect SERPs? My summary was: it doesn't. That's the short answer for anybody new enough to PR to not know what the toolbar is. (I qualified that by saying it used to pretty much be all SERPs was about but that there are a "lot of other factors" now). At present I feel PR is either small enough a consideration to be ignored altogether or, even worse, a possible red herring so Google can spot the SEOs who chase it. I felt that a good in-between position (as far as new webmasters are concerned) was to ignore PR as a factor in SERPs. I'd maintain that. I did cover PR's value in other situations - like getting frequently indexed/spidered.

But, sure there's mileage in a discussion about whether PR matters for SERPs. And, sure, I'd be interested in any tests anyone has to determine if indeed PR is worth chasing and what part it plays, if any, in determining SERPs. Or even a discussion about how we could possibly construct such a test. You can't learn much with a closed mind :)

However, if we're going to have a meaty academic debate - complete with links to papers on latest advances in SE technologies - we should really do it in the type of thread that this one was designed to help i.e. a serious discussion thread for the advanced SEOs among us. Maybe someone who feels that PR still matters can start one.


11:53 am on Feb 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for this guys all a real help.


12:21 pm on Feb 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Does PR affect or not affect SERPs? My summary was: it doesn't. That's the short answer for anybody new enough to PR to not know what the toolbar is. (I qualified that by saying it used to pretty much be all SERPs was about but that there are a "lot of other factors" now). At present I feel PR is either small enough a consideration to be ignored altogether or, even worse, a possible red herring so Google can spot the SEOs who chase it.

I have to try to correct you here.
For those who didn't and even those who did read the original paper, let me repeat that PR was not only "one of hundreds factors" involved, but the very final and decisive factor in determining SERP.

Simply put: SERP=Internal Page Value * PR factor

Please try to read this carefully, I didn't say PR number. There has been a lot of PR talk around with many "pro's" having no clue about the PR's simple role in SERPs.

It is hard to believe they (Google)would ever abandon the very basics of their successful algorithm to start something completely new.
Instead, what we have been witnessing is another switch in their SERP results with regard to PR.
Based on their VIP principles, it seems they adopted home page PR or FQDN (domain address) PR value in their calculations (or at least anything before subdirectories, thus possibly including subdomains).
Whether they combine it with the page PR to calculate final PR factor, is irrelevant here, but home page PR has almost sure became a part of it.

In your example "medieval spanish history" (w/o quotes) on the 7th place (from here) is "www.encyclopedia.com/ search.asp?target=@DOCKEYWORDS..." which indeed shows PR0 (could be partially because of asp script, never mind), but if you check the PR for "www.encyclopedia.com" , the things are a bit more clear.

For the rest, you made a nice article.


1:12 pm on Feb 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ciml is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

That's an excellent webmasters' introduction to PageRank Macro. I've started a thread on PageRank and ranking [webmasterworld.com] as it seems to be a popular tangent.


5:27 pm on Feb 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I can not, for example, go buy a link on JUNKYARD LINKS R US and point to all the folks above me in a SERP and get them booted.

So if I buy links from a website and that website gets PR0'd by Google for selling links, I won't be affected?


6:16 pm on Feb 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

You'll be effected in that you'll lose any benefit you were getting before but that's the limit.

Otherwise, this would be a very trivial way to take out your competitors.

Just set up a bunch of obvious PR 0 websites (we probably all have them kicking around) that are so obviously black hat SEO and then start linking to your competitors.

I'm not saying that high PR websites can help (I think they can, but I have no real proof) but I know, and this has been confirmed time and time again, that it can't HURT.

Except your wallet, maybe, for wasting all that money..


6:28 am on Feb 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Regarding "redistribution" of PR. Does anyone really know how often Google does this and when we can expect to see it next?


12:34 pm on Feb 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

noone actually knows that


12:50 pm on Feb 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

blaze, it is very trivial to take out competitors ;) and it's being done on a regular basis both intentionally and unintentionally (not using the PR0 method). :) I don't dabble in this I hasten to add.

As nuevojefe says: Off page links can take you out of SERPs but discussing it would take this thread off-course. Besides, there's no real point in creating a post teaching more people how they can take competitors out. There's too much of that already.


12:58 pm on Feb 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hello guys,

It's really nice to see such a thorough discussion here. My name is Serge Bond, I am a search engine analyst at Web CEO (an SEO software company). We have done extensive research to find out if pagerank influences site rankings. In short, it doesn't. We haven't found any strong corellation here. If you are interested, I can share the details here.


1:01 pm on Feb 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Web_CEO, welcome to WW.

You may want to drop into the very interesting discussion [webmasterworld.com] that ciml started. I'm trying very hard :) to keep this thread an info thread for people new to PR.


2:36 pm on Feb 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

has anyone ever taken a look t the PR's of the top ten results of one of the most competitive keyword combos, search engine optimization? you don't see anything below a PR 5.. So of course PR is very important, more so then most of google's factors. The more competitive the word, the higher the PR needs to be... im not saying that a PR 6 will never beat a PR 7 becasue it happens all the time.. but not if they are both well optimized pages, which is often the case..


2:16 am on Dec 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I think we should update this almost 2-year-old thread with some new information from Google's Vanessa Fox. In a WebProNews video interview from SES Chicago 2006 [videos.webpronews.com].

In the interview, she confirms that the Page Rank numbers reported to the website owner through Webmaster Tools are more up-to-date than the data reported in the Toolbar. She notes that you can only see your own data in your Webmaster Tools account, not research the competition.

[edited by: tedster at 5:00 am (utc) on Dec. 11, 2006]


2:50 am on Dec 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hopefully I can put the nail in the coffin on this PR doesn't matter debate. Over the course of the last twelve months our company did research on more than 80,000 pages across literally thousands of search terms. PR matters, and it matters quite a bit. For competitive terms you can use the Google toolbar and see it with your own eyes. Where pages are optimized with any effort at all a PR4 can only outrank a PR6, and it has to be nearly perfect. A PR4 never, and I repeat never, outrank a PR7 with similar content. In fact a PR8 will often rank with just two words in a large amount of content over a PR3 highly optimized.
So to say it doesn't matter, just isn't true.
This is also one of the reasons Google will not perform as well, in terms of relevance, in local search. Your local attorney, insurance agent, etc. isn't going to spend time generating in-bound links or increasing PR, and thus will compete against news stories, etc.
On the other hand, it's clear that Page Rank does a great job with high frequency keywords, and research related searches.

The best way to figure out what works is to simply analyze a few pages, it's right there in black and white, no mystery at all.


4:20 am on Dec 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thank you for taking the time to post that marco, great job.
This 45 message thread spans 2 pages: 45

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