Google PageRank: Frequently Asked Questions

What is Google PageRank, and how important is achieving high PageRank when trying to earn a high spot in Google’s search engine? Keep reading to learn the answers to these and many more questions.

What is Google PageRank?

Google PageRank (one word) is Google’s measure of the relative importance of a Web page on the Internet. The numbers rank from 0 to 10. The higher the number, the stronger the PageRank.

Is the PageRank (PR) number for the entire site?

PageRank is determined for each individual Web page, as every page on your website has a different PR. The site home page is likely to have the highest PR as it will have the most sites linking to it. Each internal page will have a different Google PageRank. In many cases, the PageRank for a very informative and heavily linked article on an internal page will be higher than that of the site’s home page.

How is PageRank determined?

PageRank is calculated based on both the quantity and PageRank quality of your incoming links. The higher the PR of your incoming links, and the fewer outbound links there are on a page, the more PR is passed to your Web page. For example, a Web page with a fairly high Google PageRank of 6, but divided among many outbound links, might pass along much less PageRank than a PR4 page with only one or two outgoing links. It’s best to consider PageRank transfer on a case by case basis rather than as an overall blanket assessment. The number of variables is simply too high for easy calculations.

Is each inbound link important to the overall total?

PageRank is a form of a voting system. A link to a page is a vote for that page. Higher PageRank pages are viewed by Google as more important. Their votes are given more value by Google — much more value, in some cases. In general, the more voting links, the stronger the PageRank.

The total number of outbound links from a page makes a huge difference in the amount of PageRank transferred to each receiving page. A Web page with ten outbound links sends one tenth of the total available flow to the receiving page. A page linking to only one page sends all of the available PageRank transfer to the next Web page.

How does a page move higher from one PageRank level to the next?

PageRank is represented numerically from a low of PR0 to a rarely achieved high of PR10. PageRank is not a series of equal steps. It is logarithmic in its calculation. In the same way that the earthquake Richter scale is exponential in calculation, so too is the mathematics behind Google PageRank. It takes one step to move from a PR0 to a PR1, it takes a few more steps to PR3, it takes even more steps to PR4, and many more steps again to PR5, and so one. Each level is progressively harder to reach.

Does increasing the content change the Google PageRank?

Adding fresh content doesn’t provide a direct impact on Google PageRank. The transfer is entirely dependent upon inbound links to the page. On the other hand, providing interesting, informative and theme relevant content will attract many natural one way links to that page. A fresh infusion of PageRank arrives with each link.

How does theme relevance affect Google PageRank?

Theme relevance refers to how related to one another is the subject matter of two interlinked Web pages. If both pages discuss tigers, then they are highly theme relevant. It’s thought that Google may be implementing a system of Topic Sensitive PageRank, designed to pass along varying percentages of available PageRank based on theme relevance. The more closely related the pages, the higher the PageRank amount transferred.

PageRank increases in a geometric manner similar to the earthquake Richter Scale. For example, it is harder to go from a PR4 to a PR5, than it was to reach the PR4 from a PR3. In a similar fashion, it’s even harder to get to a PR 6, than it was to get to PR5 from PR4, and so on up. Each level requires increasingly more high value incoming links than did the previous level.

How can I find out my Google PageRank?

PageRank is displayed in increasing amounts of green on a gauge on the Google Toolbar. The Google toolbar can be downloaded for a PC at http://toolbar.google.com. The toolbar also displays a sampling of the page’s inbound links, but is not considered a reliable indicator of current PageRank. There is no Google Toolbar currently available for a Mac. Google maintains the true PageRank internally, and the toolbar display is generally agreed to be very inaccurate.

How soon do the backlinks and PageRank show up on my Google Toolbar?

It often takes two full monthly updates for all of your incoming links to be discovered, counted, calculated and displayed as backlinks. Even then the PageRank displayed on the Google toolbar is outdated. Google maintains the correct PageRank internally at their own computers. The green line shown on the toolbar is often very outdated, and very possibly entirely incorrect.

Do all of my backlinks get displayed along with the PageRank?

Google only shows the backlinks it has found and calculated for your pages that have a PR4 or higher. All links are included in the tabulation, however. Like the PageRank display, the backlink display on the toolbar is very misleading, and under-represents the total number of inbound links, making do it yourself PageRank calculations more difficult.

All incoming links count towards your total, but lower level PRs (0-3) don’t count for much of that total immediately. They will probably add more PR later, however, as their own PRs increase, making all inbound links valuable. Keep in mind that theme relevant links from theme related pages provide more power in Google and the other search engines than unrelated higher PageRank links. Always remember that PageRank is only one factor in the search algorithm.

Should I exchange links with low value PageRank pages?

PageRank should not be your primary concern for link exchanges. Benefits to your readers of discovering new and interesting blogs and websites should be your first concern. The PR is simply an added bonus, and the PR may rise over time. A PR2 could soon be a PR7.

Can a lower PageRank page drain and reduce my PageRank?

Lower PageRank pages don’t reverse or drain PageRank. The flow is always one way, from the sending to the receiving page. Linking to a lower PR page won’t lower your own PageRank. An exchange between two theme relevant pages might even raise each other’s PageRank. Google’s linking system, in its most basic form, is designed to reward linking to other sites, but not for establishing artificial linking schemes to trick the search algorithm.

Are 60 outgoing links to another Web page too many?

No, as Google is only concerned with pages of over 100 outgoing links. Google considers overly linked pages to be link farms, and they are penalized as such. Your site will not a experience a problem, although each page linked to your page will receive only very small amounts of PR flow.

PageRank can decrease if you lose some important links that are no longer linking to your site. PR loss can also occur if some of your linking partners also experience a drop in their own PR, possibly setting off a chain reaction of lower PageRank all through the immediate linking network.

Does PageRank leak away from a page through outgoing links?

PageRank leak is a controversial topic that has both supporters and detractors. Supporters of the PageRank leak theory point to the fact that PageRank is transferred from page to page, resulting in a slight loss to the sending page. As a result, constant work to keep adding new links is required to maintain the existing PR level. The opponents of the leak theory believe that failing to send out links will harm the page, as some SEO experts believes Google downgrades pages that fail to transfer PageRank. They also believe that outgoing PageRank will return in larger amounts to the generous linker than ever flowed to outside Web pages.

Is it important to have good PageRank?

Yes, as PageRank is part of the Google algorithm that determines where your blog or website will appear in the search engine results. Higher PR pages, especially for competitive keywords, will often be listed higher, but high PageRank is only one of about one hundred determining factors in the Google algorithm. It is not by any means the most important factor in search engine rankings.

Has the value of PageRank to the Google algorithm remained constant over time?

The importance of PageRank has declined over time as well, so chasing PageRank is less important than adding theme relevant inbound links. Keep in mind that relevant on-page content of your blog or website is even more important than PageRank. If adding more PageRank remains a priority, strong content will attract high PageRank theme relvant links in its own right.

Has the possible new link dampening filter affected PageRank transfer?

It’s thought that newly acquired inbound links are dampened by a Google filter that lowers their link popularity and Google PageRank flow, despite their theme relevance. New links are only able to pass along a percentage of their available linking power, with that percentage increasing gradually over time, as the link ages. Eventually, the entire potential PageRank and link popularity value becomes awarded to the receiving page. The purpose of the new link filter is apparently to lower the benefit of freshly purchased links to their buyers.

Should I make PageRank values an important factor in my linking program?


PageRank concerns should be very low on the list of linking priorities for any website owner. Far more important is linking to pages that offer quality and useful content for your site visitors. Taking care of their needs should have a much higher priority. Also to be given more consideration is providing interesting and informative content on your own site. High quality content will attract inbound links in a natural manner. Those theme relevant links will bring along link popularity value, and of course an additional boost of Google PageRank. Even the lower PR value transfers add up over time, as PageRank is cumulative. The more incoming links, the better, and content is key to attracting them to your Web pages. The Google PageRank will arrive as part of the overall package.

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