Every three to four weeks, a strange malady afflicts the search engine optimization community. Whether people are new to SEO or old hands with years of search engine savvy and experience, this strange affliction strikes them all. There seem to be very few SEO professionals who have any immunity to this disease. The culprit is the fairly regular, but not ever quite on time, Google backlink and PageRank update.
The symptoms are always the same. The search engine optimization forums begin to fill with pleading, and almost desperate sounding threads. The posters are usually begging, for even the tiniest scraps of information, about the big event. They want to know when and if the update is happening, and how it’s affecting everyone else.
The disease has struck. It’s the Backlink and PageRank Fever.
Other posters respond with messages of hope and sympathy, and often shared anguish and pain. Regardless of the frequency of the illness, there appears to be a need to share the pain and sense of helplessness. A form of group therapy takes place. The pain sometimes goes away, upon the update actually occurring. Many times, it does not.
The Google Backlink and PageRank update update occurs roughly every three weeks, with times varying from about two weeks to a month. It is not unusual for Google to miss an expected update. The staggering of the update schedule, is probably intentional, on the part of Google. The inability to accurately forecast the date is something for which Google probably strives. Of course, Google isn’t confirming or denying that assessment.
The level of uncertainty regarding the date of the update is one cause of the illness. Another cause is the complete unpredictability of whether Google will increase a website’s displayed backlinks. A third cause is the possible gain or loss of a webmaster’s pages of their Google PageRank. The green meter on the Google Toolbar is very hypnotic to many.
Another major symptom of the affliction is frustration. Webmasters are often extremely frustrated and concerned that all of their incoming links are not displayed. Laments are heard that new backlinks have been added, with time frames given that range into months. Concerns are voiced about no visible PageRank changes despite the addition of some high PageRank links. Often, there are nightmarish thoughts of drastic link and PageRank drops for no discernible reason.
The disease is a result of concern and fear of the unknown. A few simple answers, about the nature of the malady, will cause some of those issues disappear. If they don’t go away entirely, at least they can be kept in check.
Let’s fight and conquer the Backlink and PageRank Update Fever together.
There is no need to be worried about the Backlink and PageRank Update Fever. It is a false disease. There is no cause for alarm. Here’s why.
The entire disease is based on a misconception about how and when Google calculates PageRank and backlinks. Our first order of business is to examine Google PageRank and backlink calculations, and when they actually take place. The results may surprise you.
Examine Google PageRank and Backlink Calculations
Many of the myths about the Google backlink and PageRank updates are a hold over from the days of the true Google dance. In those days, Google would update backlinks, PageRank, and the search engine results pages (SERPs) at the same time.
The Google dance has been replaced by what is referred to as “everflux”, where the SERPs are updated on a continuous basis. They are not “danced” in the traditional sense. That said, there is still a minor dance taking place. That variation between the various Google data centers occurs while new SERPs results are being propagated to all data centers. It is more of a delay between data centers than a dance.
There is also the phenomenon of the various Google algorithm changes. The most famous algorithm change was the infamous “Florida update”. By combining a backlink and PageRank update, with an algorithm change, there were some severe changes in the search results for many highly competitive keywords. The algorithm change was not a traditional dance. In many ways, the Florida algorithm change was an anomalous event. It was certainly not the normal backlink update.
When are backlinks and PageRank really processed?
Whenever your site adds a new incoming link, Google will find it when its spider crawls your site. That link will be calculated at the time of its indexing. The link will provide its link boost to your site in the search engine rankings upon its discovery. What that means, in simple terms, is by the time the actual backlinks are displayed by Google, the links have already had their values included in the search calculations.
When the backlinks are finally displayed, in the backlink update, they are already old news. Often, links will not show up in the backlink results for three to four updates. The average appearance time is usually two backlink updates, but it’s not unusual to see incoming links displayed in only one update.
The very inconsistency of the timing of display causes one to think that it’s perhaps intentional on the part of Google. Such an unpredictability would work to Google’s advantage, as it would prevent any manipulation of the timing of backlink displays. Of course, since the incoming links are likely calculated as they are added, the backlink display inconsistency is possibly planned to keep webmasters and SEO professionals off balance.
As most website owners are already aware, the backlink display doesn’t include the full array of incoming links to a website. In fact, according to Google, the display is only what is referred to as a sampling of backlinks. Many solid PageRank links are not shown at all. Some incoming links almost never seem to appear at all.
The incoming links shown are only those of PageRank 4 or higher in the vast majority of cases. There are some rare instances of a high PR3 page being displayed. That fact has led some SEO practitioners to believe, that Google also sorts backlinks, by the amount of PageRank being passed along to the receiving page. Should that be the case, then links from themed pages, and from pages with fewer outgoing links, should be more highly valued.
Like incoming links, Google PageRank is apparently calculated on an ongoing basis as well. The level of PageRank, shown by the green meter on the Google Toolbar is, at best an estimation. The true PageRank amount of any web page is only known to Google. As always, the search engine giant is very close mouthed about that information.
Since there are no degrees or gradations of PageRank, it’s impossible to tell if a PR5 is a high PR5 and closer to PR6, or if the true level is closer to a PR4. The easiest way to tell a more accurate gradation, is to examine your internal web pages. If they have a PageRank similar to the main feeder page, then your PageRank is nearer to the higher end of the scale for that level.
What seems to be the case, is that the estimated PageRank is only displayed after the fact. The actual PageRank is ahead of the Google Toolbar display. The PageRank update only gets the Toolbar shown PageRank more in line with the actual PageRank level.
The backlink and PageRank updates simply show what has already taken place. The search engine results already have their impact taken into account. Because the updates are merely in the nature of eye candy, it’s best to not worry too much about them. Simply accept what backlinks are displayed, along with the PageRank, shown publicly on the Google Toolbar. They are only showing you what has happened previously anyway.
Your time would be better spent working to add extra incoming links to your website. Google will take them into account as they are discovered by the spiders and indexed by the search engine. The fact that you can’t see them doesn’t in any way lessen their impact on the SERPs for your most important keywords.
Use the time to add more fresh content to your site. The new content will often attract new incoming one way links, from other sites, linking to your material. Fresh content will also provide new keyword phrases enabling searchers to discover your web pages. It may also help your site on the road to becoming an important authority site.
The backlink display and the Toolbar PageRank are not as important, to your site, as your search engine rankings. The window dressing of backlinks and displayed PageRank don’t make any difference to the SERPs as they have already been taken into consideration by Google.
Stop suffering needlessly from the Backlink and PageRank Update Fever.
Worrying over the number of backlinks Google is displaying during the update won’t make any difference in the searches for your most important keyword phrases.
Instead of fretting, and spending sleepless nights, spend your time adding more incoming links. They will add to your link popularity soon after their discovery.
Add more fresh content to get your site freshly crawled by the Googlebot spider. Brand new content may also attract some new incoming links from other websites.
Adding content and links, especially if they are themed to your pages, can also help boost your site toward the coveted authority site status.
Those ideas are a much better way to spend your time.
Cure the Backlink and PageRank Update Fever today.