What Is Google PageRank? A Guide For Searchers & Webmasters

Several times in the past few months, I’ve written about new Google features where PageRank was involved. Unfortunately, Google itself has very poor information about PageRank that I could use for those wanting to learn more about it. To solve that, here’s a guide to PageRank, designed for searchers and site owners alike.

This is fairly long article. To help, you can jump to particular sections of key interest, if you like:

Google’s Definition: PageRank As Votes

Let’s start with what Google says. In a nutshell, it considers links to be like votes. In addition, it considers that some votes are more important than others. PageRank is Google’s system of counting link votes and determining which pages are most important based on them. These scores are then used along with many other things to determine if a page will rank well in a search.

Don’t like me speaking for Google? No worries. When Google talks about PageRank at its site, it often links to the Google Technology page, which says:

The heart of our software is PageRank™, a system for ranking web pages developed by our founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University. And while we have dozens of engineers working to improve every aspect of Google on a daily basis, PageRank continues to play a central role in many of our web search tools.

PageRank Explained

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 considerably more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; for example, 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.” Using these and other factors, Google provides its views on pages’ relative importance.

Important, high-quality sites receive a higher PageRank, which Google remembers each time it conducts a search. Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don’t match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. Google goes far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines all dozens of aspects of the page’s content (and the content of the pages linking to it) to determine if it’s a good match for your query.

Recent Google Edits Emphasize PageRank Just One Of Many Factors

What’s with the bold and strikeout text? Between when I started this article and when I finished it today, I noticed that this key page had been updated for the first time in years. Bold shows what I found to be added. Strikeout shows what was removed.

Another key PageRank reference was also updated on the Google corporate philosophy page:

Google works because it relies on the millions of individuals posting links on websites to help determine which other sites offer content of value. Google assesses the importance of every web page using a variety of techniques, including its patented PageRank™ algorithm which analyzes which sites have been “voted” the best sources of information by other pages across the web. Instead of relying on a group of editors or solely on the frequency with which certain terms appear, Google ranks every web page using a breakthrough technique called PageRank™. PageRank evaluates all of the sites linking to a web page and assigns them a value, based in part on the sites linking to them. By analyzing the full structure of the web, Google is able to determine which sites have been “voted” the best sources of information by those most interested in the information they offer. This technique actually improves as the web gets bigger, as each new site is another point of information and another vote to be counted.

The changes are interesting. Google is somewhat qualifying that PageRank is important but not the sole factor in how pages are ranked. That’s good, because as I’ll explain, too many people have fixated on PageRank scores for too long.

PageRank For Searchers: Google Toolbar

Let’s start with how PageRank is used by Google for searchers. First and foremost, it is one of many factors used for ranking pages. You can’t see PageRank when you search (ordinarily, that is. further below I’ll explain how you CAN see it), but behind the scenes, it helps in part to decide if a page will show up in the top search results or not.

Most searchers encounter PageRank through the Google Toolbar. The toolbar has a “PageRank meter” that Google itself fails to fully explain in its online help files. For example, when writing my Google Search History Expands, Becomes Web History article last week, I spent some time going through all the Google Toolbar help files to find a good explanation to link to about the meter. This was the best I found, a short mention that says:

Wondering whether a new website is worth your time? Use the Toolbar’s PageRank™ display to tell you how Google assesses the importance of the page you’re viewing.

Here’s how it works. If you’ve installed the Google Toolbar, you MAY have the PageRank meter installed. If so, you’ll see it as shown below:

Google Toolbar PageRank Meter

See that big long green bar? That’s the PageRank meter. If you hover over it with your mouse, it will actually show you the PageRank score for the page you are visiting, like this:

Google Toolbar PageRank Meter With Score

Not bad — Google’s home page has a PageRank score of 10! See this part:

(10/10)

That’s Google telling you first the score of the page you’re looking at (10) and the maximum value a page can have overall (10). Google is perfect!

Showing both numbers makes more sense when you get to less perfect pages. Here’s Search Engine Land:

Google Toolbar PageRank Meter With Score

See how we are a 7/10? That means we have a PageRank of 7 out of 10 possible points. Less than perfect. Sniff, sniff. It’s OK. That’s a great score for the home page of a web site that’s only four months old.

Notice how the bar also isn’t all green, in the way it was completely “full” with Google? Instead, like a thermometer, it is only partially filled 7/10ths of the way, to visually represent the page’s PageRank score.

Here’s another page:

Google Toolbar PageRank Meter With Score

Ouch! Zero! This is a terrible page! Actually, no. In this case, I tried to reach a page that doesn’t exist at Search Engine Land. That gave me an error. Since the page doesn’t exist, Google has no PageRank score to report back. That’s why you get a 0 out of 10 score for it. Notice also how the meter has no green, to show no PageRank for the page.

Many searchers may have never seen the PageRank meter. That’s because by default, until last week, it was never switched on. You had to manually choose to do it, and it was mostly search engine optimization people that did so. [Postscript: Google's Matt Cutts, after reading this, commented: "A lot of regular people choose to opt-in to PageRank as well. I believe the quantity of people that opt-in to see PageRank is much larger than the set of active SEOs."]

Google Search History Expands, Becomes Web History explains how many more searchers will soon begin seeing PageRank scores. This is because in some cases, the Google Toolbar will get downloaded with it enabled. In other cases, Google will encourage you to switch the meter on. Read the article to understand more.

Don’t have the PageRank meter switched on and you do want it? Happy with the privacy issues my article explains (as does Google itself)? Click on the Settings menu item in the toolbar, then choose Options, then the More tab, then in the “Even more buttons” area, tick the “PageRank and Page Info” button. Now the meter is enabled.

PR Stands For PageRank, Not Public Relations

Speaking of search engine optimization people, those SEOs are the group that created the acronym you might occasionally hear: PR, for PageRank.

For example, the Google’s home page that was PageRank 10 out of 10 would be shorted to PR10. Search Engine Land, with 7 out of 10, is PR7. That error page? PR0.

PageRank In The Google Directory

Did you know there’s a place in Google where pages are listed because human editors have selected them, rather than Google’s crawling of the web? It’s called the Google Directory, and it’s based on work done by editors at the Open Directory Project.

When Google added the Open Directory’s information to its site back in March 2000, the key difference was that the Google Directory edition sorted listings according to PageRank score.

For example, compare the category about search blogs at Google to the Open Directory:

Google Directory Vs Open Directory

These are exactly the same categories, Google on the left, the Open Directory on the right. The should be nearly identical. They aren’t for two key reasons.

First, Google is WAY out of date. You can see the Open Directory has many more listings than Google shows. Google probably hasn’t bothered to grab the most recent listings from the Open Directory for months. That’s not surprising. Once a key part of Google, the Google Directory was dropped from the Google home page and relegated to the More Google Products page back in March 2004. It’s not a priority. In addition, the Open Directory itself has been down or not making new information available for download on occasion.

The other key difference is that the listings in the Google Directory are sorted by PageRank. See how under the “Web Pages” bar in the Google Directory, each site has a PageRank meter image next to it? For searchers, that shows the page’s PageRank score. As explained in the Google Directory’s help pages:

The green ratings bars are a measure of the importance Google’s assessment of the importance of a web page, as determined by Google’s patented PageRank technology and other factors. These PageRank bars tell you at a glance whether other people on the web consider Google considers a page to be a high-quality site worth checking out. Google itself does not evaluate or endorse websites. Rather, we measure what others on the web feel is important enough to deserve a link. And because Google does not accept payment for placement within our results, the information you see when you conduct a search is based on totally objective criteria.

(Like the other help pages above, I found the Google PageRank information for the Google Directory has recently been updated, so bold shows what’s new, strikeout what was removed).

PageRank For SEOs

I’ve covered the two main ways that PageRank is visible to searchers plus mentioned that behind the scenes, it is one of many factors that helps rank web pages. How pages are ranked is, of course, of keen interest to SEOs.

Sadly – so, so sadly — far too many SEOs fixated on the PageRank meter when it came out first through the Google Directory and then later in December 2000 via the Google Toolbar. They focused on getting links from high PR pages without realizing that PageRank alone wasn’t enough.

As I wrote back in 2002:

The issue of links and search engines, in particular the perception of Google’s use of links, has gotten out of hand. For many, the original reason of linking has been lost out of the desire to simply do whatever they believe Google might like.

All major crawler-based search engines leverage links from across of the web, but none of them report a static “importance” score in the way Google does via its Google Toolbar. That score, while a great resource for surfers, has also provided one of the few windows into how Google ranks web pages. Some webmasters, desperate to get inside Google, keep flying into that window like confused birds, smacking their heads and losing their orientation….

Site owners are using the toolbar to find “good” sites that they should get links from, regardless of the fact that link context is also important, not to mention many, many other factors that are used by Google to rank a web page. Other site owners, getting a gray PR0 toolbar for their site, immediate assume the worst, that they’ve been blacklisted.

Enough, please, enough. Forget the Google Toolbar meter. Forget about worrying over “good” links and “bad” links according to Google. Just forget Google, when it comes to link building.

PageRank is only a score that represents the importance of a page, as Google estimates it (By the way, that estimate of importance is considered to be Google’s opinion and protected in the US by the First Amendment. When Google was once sued over altering PageRank scores for some sites, a US court ruled: “PageRanks are opinions–opinions of the significance of particular Web sites as they correspond to a search query….the court concludes Google’s PageRanks are entitled to full constitutional protection.)

Get a link to your pages from an high PR page and yes, some of that PageRank importance is transmitted to your page. But that’s doesn’t take into account the context of the link — the words in the link — the anchor text. If you don’t understand anchor text, Google Now Reporting Anchor Text Phrases from me last month will take you by the hand and explain it more.

Here’s a fast overview. Say you’re Nike and want to rank for the word “shoes.” You get hundreds of PR9 pages to link to you this way:

Excellent! All those pages are going to send tons and tons of PageRank your way! You’ll be seen as important! But important for what? Google’s going to look at the word in the link itself as a key signal to determine that. The word says “Nike,” so happy day, Nike ranks for its name!

Now let’s say you’re Zappos. Not being as big as Nike, you don’t get links from all those PR9 sites. You get them instead from a mix of PR4, PR5 and PR6 sites. They all link to you like this:

The importance of the links is less, true. But they do have some importance. They carry some weight. Plus, what they say — the relevancy of the words — is key. They’re pointing at you and saying the word “shoes” in the links. That’s going to help you rank better for the word “shoes,” almost certainly much better than all those links Nike has.

Don’t believe me? Google Declares Stephen Colbert As Greatest Living American explains how the words in the links to Colbert Nation (rather than the PageRank from those links) recently shot that site up in the ranking for “greatest living american,” while Google Kills Bush’s Miserable Failure Search & Other Google Bombs and George W. Bush: A Failure Once Again, According To Google explain how the words in links used to have an impact for George W. Bush ranking on “miserable failure.”

Seeing PageRank In Search Rankings

Still don’t believe me, that PageRank isn’t the most important thing when it comes to ranking well on Google? Here’s a way I’ve been proving it for years. Search for something, then see if anything below the top ranked page has a PageRank score higher than the top listing. If so (and it is so), that shows PageRank is not the most important factor.

Let’s illustrate it. Here’s a search for movies:

Google Search Results With PageRank Scores

See how the search results have PageRank meters in them? I used the PageRank Search tool at SEO Chat to make that happen. See how Movies.com — listed first — has a PR8 score while the Internet Movie Database has a PR9? The page with a lower PageRank still got the higher search rank!

Like seeing these scores in your results? Google doesn’t make that an option for searchers. Seem odd? It makes sense and underscores my key point.

PageRank is one of many, many factors used to produce search rankings. Highlighting PageRank in search results doesn’t help the searcher. That’s because Google uses another system to show the most important pages for a particular search you do. It lists them in order of importance for what you searched on. Adding PageRank scores to search results would just confuse people. They’d wonder why pages with lower scores were outranking higher scored pages.

In contrast, if you’re looking at a single page, such as when you are surfing the web, you no longer want the search ranking but rather an idea of how important or reputable that page might be. This is where PageRank makes more sense.

Of course, SEOs and others may want PageRank in search results. The tool above is just one of many that does this (got a favorite? written a favorite? add them to the comments below). For a browser-based tool, try SEO For Firefox from SEO Book.

PageRank Versus “Toolbar” PageRank

Those PageRank scores that you can see? Those are often referred to as “toolbar” PageRank. This is different from what’s often called “internal” PageRank.

Internal PageRank are the PageRank scores that Google uses as part of its ranking algorithm. Those scores are constantly being updated. In contrast, the PageRank scores that Google allows the world to see — Toolbar PageRank — is a snapshot of internal PageRank taken every few months.

What’s important here? If you’re a brand new site, you’ll likely have a low or no PageRank score reported in the Google Toolbar. That might concern you, even though it will mostly impact whether you get crawled regularly (the higher your PageRank, the more likely Google will regularly revisit your pages). It does also have an impact on your ranking ability, of course.

It’s likely that after a few weeks, you’ll have gained some internal PageRank. You might see more traffic, as a result. But outwardly, the Google Toolbar PageRank meter will still show your same old depressing score. Then a snapshot will be made, and the better score you get will reflect what’s already been happening behind the scenes.

More info on PageRank from Google’s Matt Cutts explain more about this and other aspects of PageRank. You can also try the Future PageRank tool if you hear from various sources that a PageRank update is in progress for the toolbar. It might give you an early glimpse at your score to come.

PageRank Tech Talk

PageRank gets its name from Google cofounder Larry Page. You can read the original ranking system to calculate PageRank here, if you want. Check out the original paper about how Google worked here, while you’re at it. But for dissecting how Google works today, these documents from 1998 and 2000 won’t help you much. Still, they’ve been pored over, analyzed and unfortunately sometimes spouted as the gospel of how Google operates now.

If you still feel compelled to know more about PageRank — at least how it used to work, certainly check out Phil Craven’s longstanding Google’s PageRank Explained article, as well as The Google Pagerank Algorithm and How It Works from Ian Rogers.

Wikipedia, naturally, has an entry about PageRank with more resources you might be interested in. It also covers how some sites using redirection can fake a higher PageRank score than they really have. And since we’re getting all technical — PageRank really isn’t an actual 0 to 10 scale, not behind the scenes. Internal scores are greatly simplified to match up to that system used for visible reporting.

How does Google collect and rank results? from Matt Cutts, which he wrote for Google Librarian Central, is also a good read on the basics of how Google ranks pages, using PageRank as one part of that process.

Conclusion (Especially For Those Thinking I Don’t Have Time To Read)

There much more I could write about PageRank, but I hope this gives you a good introduction and some clarity about it. The key points to remember:

  • PageRank tells how important a page is, relatively speaking, compared to other pages.
  • PageRank is just one of MANY ranking factors used to determine ranking in search results.
  • High PageRank does NOT guarantee a high search ranking for any particular term. If it did, then PR10 sites like Adobe would always show up for any search you do. They don’t.
  • The anchor text of a link is often far more important than whether it’s on a high PageRank page.
  • If you really want to know what are the most important, relevant pages to get links from, forget PageRank. Think search rank. Search for the words you’d like to rank for. See what pages come up tops in Google. Those are the most important and relevant pages you want to seek links from. That’s because Google is explicitly telling you that on the topic you searched for, these are the best.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: General | Google: SEO | Link Building: General | SEO: General

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • http://www.SEOcritique.com SEOcritique.com

    If only this were required reading before anyone could register to post on an SEO forum…

  • http://www.searchenginemarketinglead.com Tilak

    Very nice write up.

    I have a question, does there any impact of ranking if Google more regularly revisit the pages/site?

  • http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/ Matt Cutts

    Danny, nice in-depth write-up. Just some small things that I would clarify:
    - “You had to manually choose to do it [turn on PageRank], and it was mostly search engine optimization people that did so.” That’s not accurate, in my experience. Certainly many SEOs turn on PageRank, but a *lot* of regular people choose to opt-in to PageRank as well. I believe the quantity of people that opt-in to see PageRank is much larger than the set of active SEOs.
    - “PageRank is only a score that represents the importance of a page.” I’d just clarify that we consider it Google’s opinion of the importance of a page.
    - “poured” -> “pored”. Okay, that’s probably more detail than you wanted. I’ll stop. :)

    Nice reference for folks. I agree that getting everyone to read this before joining an SEO forum would be a Good Thing. :)

  • http://seonirupam.blogspot.com/ MrRoy

    Hi Danny

    Excellent post. Gr8 stuff

    I have a very simple question for you.

    Say for an example, If my Credit Card website gets a link from New York Times, say they gave me a link from a page which is not relevant to my website, do you think that link will have much more importance as far as anchor text is concerned in comparison to 20 links that i got from relevant websites ?

    Cheers
    MrRoy

  • http://www.bodyabcs.com Purposeinc – Dr. David Klein

    Danny,
    As far as you know is this the prioritization of the value of links? 1. most valuable 10. least valuable

    1. link from site about fruit, and page about grapes, to a page on your site about grapes when your site is about fruit.

    2. link from site about fruit, and page about boxes, to your page about boxes, on your site about cardboard.

    3. link from site about fruit and page about boxes, to your page about televisions on your site about electronics.

    Any other data you have picked up about this would be very helpful. I apologize if you have yacked about this before, I am still coming up to speed in the field :)
    dk

  • http://www.feedthebot.com feedthebot

    this post is very feedthebot-ish i like it. Thank you for writing that up.

    Of course, if we are citing Google, it would be a shame not to mention this often overlooked Google librarian article that helps explain the basics of ranking. I bet even Danny hasn’t read this…

    How does Google collect and rank results?

  • http://www.feedthebot.com feedthebot

    Actually I should have said that better. There is a rather old article on Google’s website citing Matt Cutts named
    How does Google collect and rank results? it is unique because it is Google stating clearly (a long time ago) that Pagerank isn’t the biggest factor in ranking.
    to quote it…

    “As a rule, Google tries to find pages that are both reputable and relevant. If two pages appear to have roughly the same amount of information matching a given query, we’ll usually try to pick the page that more trusted websites have chosen to link to. Still, we’ll often elevate a page with fewer links or lower PageRank if other signals suggest that the page is more relevant. For example, a web page dedicated entirely to the civil war is often more useful than an article that mentions the civil war in passing, even if the article is part of a reputable site such as Time.com.”

    I found this, as I find all sorts of other juicy bits in Google documentation using the Ask Google tool on feedthebot.com.

  • http://www.searchmarketingtrends.com chris boggs

    wow Danny well done…dugg this and will certainly bookmark.

  • chris boggs

    lol Matt the spelling police. Is “poured” the UK version?

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Any Kreminology regarding what the update to the Technology page means, if it means anything at all?
    Perhaps quasi-official confirmation that PageRank has dropped significantly in terms of weighting of factors?

  • http://searchengineland.com Danny Sullivan

    Tilak, regular revisits alone shouldn’t impact your ranking that much. Many do feel that these days, Google does consider freshness as one of those many factors for ranking. If your pages are regularly updated, that might add a bit to the rankings. But I wouldn’t start changing things just to be pretending your fresh. Focus on your content. Good content, you’ll gain PageRank, that will bring you regular revisits but more important help your site stand out as an authority.

    Matt, thanks for all the comments. Fixed the typo (I am American, after all) and incorporated some of what you said into the story above, now.

    MrRoy, the first thing with any link is generally the anchor text. Are the words you’re hoping to be found for in it? If so, that one link from an authority site like the NY Times may indeed count more than 20 links that don’t use the words from elsewhere. Google and other search engines more and more do seem to be trying to assess the overall “relevance” of a particular page, rather than just look at a link’s anchor text. But still, anchor text remains important.

    David, you’re already over analyzing far too much for someone who is coming up to speed. Stop! Seriously, I mean well with that. :) Don’t worry which links are the best links, in the way you want. Think like this.

    Where’s your audience going? If they’re interested in grapes, search for “grapes” on Google. The top pages listed are where they’re going, because many of them will search for grapes and show up on these pages. So those are the pages you want links from.

    First, you want links from those pages because if your audience clicks from Google to them, they may then see you and click over to your site. Second, Google just told you these are important pages on grapes. So that importance, both PageRank and contextualy, could get passed along to you.

    Feedthebot — ha! Not read the article. Yep, and I blogged about it to the world when it first came out. It remains excellent. Thanks for the reminder. I’ve incorporated it into the story.

  • Jeremy Chatfield

    Superb article. Thanks.

    You’ve pointed to the idea that Google is adding more and more techniques to evade untrustworthy data sources. This is directly analagous to the experience of many programmers… Code gets more and more complex until the burden of understanding the exceptions to the main flow makes the whole system collapse.

    Doesn’t the baroque ornamentation of filtering based on speed of link addition, the assumption that word matching is equivalent to conceptual matching, etc, etc… suggest that this system is likely to fail in the face of increasingly sophisticated automated link building methods?

    The model is based on information, but has been used to drive the economy… Economic value of pages doesn’t appear to factor. Like it or not, Search Engines dominate new traffic to many sites. Occasional bleating from Google about why businesses have to put more information on the web in order to rank well, is putting the cart before the horse. The value to the searcher is the economic value of the business for their needs, not the quantity of web pages and links the business has developed.

    The whole basis is flawed, for a system that influences so much spending. Isn’t it? Doesn’t seeing CTR of 50, 60% or even more on paid search, suggest that, at least for certain classes of search, the organic results are economically less relevant than the paid search results?

    Pages with more links and more information on them aren’t intrinsically economically more important. They may be more important to a researcher, though… it’s the intent that counts.

    Hmm. More to think about… Thanks.

  • http://searchengineland.com Danny Sullivan

    Seth, I think the changes just reflect Google catching up with the times. When they originally launched, PageRank was an easy way to get buzz on being different. It was never the only way they ranked pages, but it sounded a heck of a lot cooler than saying “we do link analysis.” So that page never really properly explained the Google technology, as far as I was concerned.

    In fact, during the big Florida update crisis of November 2003, I did a mini-rant about this:

    Q. Does this mean Google no longer uses the PageRank algorithm?

    A. Google never used the PageRank algorithm to rank web pages. PageRank is simply a component of that overall algorithm, a system Google uses to measure how important a page is based on links to it. It has always — ALWAYS — been the case that the context of links to the page was also considered, as well as the content on the page itself.

    Unfortunately, some writing about Google have called its system of ranking PageRank, and Google itself sometimes makes this mistake, as seen in its webmaster’s information page:

    “The method by which we find pages and rank them as search results is determined by the PageRank technology developed by our founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

    In reality, the page describing Google’s technology more accurately puts PageRank at the “heart” of the overall system, rather than giving the system that overall name.

    By the way, PageRank has never been the factor that beats all others. It has been and continues to be the case that a page with low PageRank might get ranked higher than another page. Search for books, and if you have the PageRank meter switched on in the Google Toolbar, you’ll see how the third-ranked Online Books Page with a PageRank of 8 comes above O’Reilly, even though O’Reilly has a PageRank of 9. That’s just one quick example, but I’ve seen others exactly like this in the past, and you can see plenty first-hand by checking yourself.”

    As I said, the tech page did talk about PageRank at the “heart” of things, but I suppose you’re seeing Google trying to ease people think they’re all about PageRank.

    Actually, that is kind of a bigger move if you want to get all into it. I mean, the Google Web History story I referenced in the article talks at depth about Google moving to use personal data to influence search results. What Google does NOT want happening is for people to think they only are about links (AKA, PageRank) and so aren’t keeping up with the times as links get bought, sold, traded influenced and more important, may not reflect the big users ratings wave going on.

    I doubt many people themselves would think this, ordinary searchers — but Google competitors would try to play it up. For example, in the enterprise space, I continue to roll my eyes when some enterprise search company tries to make a clueless reporter believe that Google can’t do enterprise search since it can’t count links there. Google, of course, has excellent basic search engine textual analysis capabilities. But reporters gobble that “weakness” up.

  • http://pardonmyfrench.typepad.com Eric Frenchman

    This is great thanks Danny. Quick question. I have both Alexa and Google toolbars loaded in firefox and when I visit popular blogs sometimes I notice a very high (popular) Alexa ranking and a zero page rank. How do you explain that other than Alexa’s ratings are dubious at best?

    Eric

  • http://sethf.com/anticensorware/ Seth Finkelstein

    Thanks, Danny (by the way, I should have said great article too), I was thinking along technical lines, but your explanation of the public-relations aspect makes sense.

    I’ve actually been seeing aspects of the move from other angles. PayPerP*st has made keyword-buying a commodity, and the user-rating aspect is something I suspect the (so far, vaporware) Wikipedia-like search engine wants to exploit.

  • http://www.daviddalka.com/createvalue/ DavidDalka

    Nice.

  • http://www.feedthebot.com feedthebot

    Danny, I never said you didn’t blog about it. :) oops.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    You had me nodding in agreement right up to the point where you linked to Phil Craven’s travesty of an explanation for PageRank. That is one of the absolute worst treatments of the subject ever published and is so misleading I am surprised to see you recommend it.

  • http://searchengineland.com Danny Sullivan

    Eric, Alexa’s rankings are based on people who visit you and have the Alexa toolbar. Google’s rankings come from counting up link votes. Two compeltely different methods, so you just can’t compare them. Perhaps, for example, lots of people come to a page but for whatever reason, there are few links pointing at it. Alexa would say it was great; Google, not so much.

    Feedthebot, just playing with you. For the record, I have both read and blogged about it :)

    Michael, Phil’s papers is one of the earliest out there trying to play with the math and is notable from that account. Didn’t say it was correct, only that some might want to check it out. The bigger point was that I was more strongly saying that none of these types of analysis are that useful in my view, working off a paper from 1998.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Danny: “The bigger point was that I was more strongly saying that none of these types of analysis are that useful in my view, working off a paper from 1998.”

    Fair enough.

  • http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/ Matt Cutts

    Danny, many thanks for adding those extra details to the article. This is a great resource, and judging from the comments already, it looks like this will be a popular one. :)

  • MrRoy

    Danny

    Thanks for the reply.
    Keep up your good work :)

    Cheers
    Nirupam

  • http://www.hobo-web.co.uk/ Sandpetra

    How long did that take you ? :)

  • Jill

    Slightly off topic, but I’m curious as to why you no-followed the link to Google, but no other links?

  • http://searchengineland.com Danny Sullivan

    That nofollow was on a link to Google Librarian Central, and I think it had nofollow because I copied it out of a comment, where all the links get nofollows. I didn’t notice it was there, in short. I removed that now.

  • http://www.seo4fun.com/blog/ Halfdeck

    “High PageRank does NOT guarantee a high search ranking for any particular term. If it did, then PR10 sites like Adobe would always show up for any search you do. They don’t.”

    I ran a relevance VS importance test here:

    http://www.seo4fun.com/blog/2007/03/20/free-seo-course-offering-expert-training-overestimating-domain-authority.html

    My conclusion: when relevance (as determined by authoritative/trusted IBL anchor text) is low, PageRank/domain authority comes into play. When relevance is high, it leaves other signals in the dust.

  • http://seonirupam.blogspot.com/ MrRoy

    Hi Danny

    Your article came at a time when the toolbar PR update has just happened. Great coincidence. :)

    Cheers
    Nirupam

  • http://www.inLoughborough.com Loughborough

    A nice summary of how page rank works. Presumably though it is a moving target as people try to optimise their site to get ahead of the competition.

  • http://learnonly.com/ Dr Umesh R Bilagi

    thank you 

  • seo2012

    GREAT ARTICLE..!!
    THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS..!!
    FRM
    top seo tips

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