What Is Google PageRank?

Last updated


Daniel Wade


July 28, 2022

Ever been actively involved in SEO? If so, then you probably recall the 'famous' Google Toolbar PageRank. Back then, Google PageRank was the most popular SEO metric.

But what really is Google PageRank? It is a unique metric that evaluates and scores your internal and external links pages. It is one of Google's oldest and popular ranking algorithms that determines the value of a webpage by accessing the amount of hyperlinks it contains.

This particular provision's purpose was to reveal the Google PageRank of each page you visited on a unique logarithmic scale from 0–10. However, Google formally eliminated support to get Toolbar PageRank in 2016. Why? Well, as you will learn here, there is more to it than meets the eye. In this detailed guide, we define everything about PageRank for you.

With numerous statistics from Google (the founder Company), reports from industry experts, and quotes from relevant Google officials, this guide covers everything you should know about PageRank. Ready to learn? Let's get started.


Table of contents

What's Google PageRank?

If you recall PageRank, this is what likely best springs to mind: It is Google's notorious PageRank toolbar. Typically, that is precisely what we came to associate with PageRank and undeniably the metric with which SEOs became obsessed.

However, there's much more to PageRank compared to the toolbar. Ideally, PageRank (PR) represents a complex mathematical formula that determines the "worth of a web page" by simply looking at the amount and quality of different pages related to it.

In a simple definition, PageRank is a unique system designed to rank web pages developed by Sergey Brin and Larry Page at Stanford University. The essential thing to understand is that PageRank is primarily about hyperlinks. The higher a link's PageRank, the more imposing it is.

The PageRank algorithm can be simplified and explained as a means for the significance of a page. The page's value is quantified by assessing the amount and quality of the hyperlinks which point to it.

PageRank Score

By now, you already know that PageRank is an intricate algorithm that assigns a score of significance to a page online. However, with everyday SEO, PageRank essentially represented a linear illustration of an exclusive logarithm scale ranging between 0-10 and exhibited on the PageRank toolbar.

A PageRank score of 0 is generally a low-quality site, whereas, on the other hand, a rating of 10 would undeniably represent the most authoritative websites on the net.

If you are still uncertain what it represents, the easiest way to understand the foundations behind PageRank scores is essentially the fact that it utilizes a logarithmic scale.

A logarithmic scale in practical terms represents a distinctive approach of displaying numerical information over an extensive assortment of values in a streamlined manner. Typically, the info's biggest numbers are hundreds or perhaps thousands of times more significant than the smallest amounts.

According to statistics from a Search Engine Watch report, the publisher outlines that it features a valued base of 4-5. To put it differently, assuming a base of 5, PR2 hyperlinks are equal to 5 PR1 hyperlinks; a PR6 connection resembles 5 PR5 links, etc." If you study the report, you will observe that a PR10 connection is similar to tens of thousands of PR1 links.

Note: The main reason behind SEOs fixation on this metric is that PageRank moves from one webpage to another. This means that a site can acquire authority by being connected to a different one with a higher PageRank score. PageRank (that's passed between sites by hyperlinks) helps a site to rank relatively higher in simple terms. The algorithm centers on the idea that a webpage is deemed necessary if other essential pages connect.

Nonetheless, despite its popularity, Google, however, halted its use in the public domain. Surprisingly though, this was not because PageRank outlived its importance or was no longer significant, but instead that it ceased being a public-facing metric. Thus, some SEOs see PageRank as an obsolete and irrelevant metric that does not have any modern-day SEO location.

It's surprising that despite all this, Google still uses PageRank as a portion of its algorithm nowadays. The catch, though, is that the initial patent has expired, meaning that in its original format, it hasn't been actively used since 2006. The currently available form is expectedly much more complex.

How Did Google PageRank Start?

The original PageRank patent was officially filled back in 1998. It subsequently became the first algorithm that Google primarily applied in calculating the significance of a website and effectively ranking them.

Simply put, Google's foundation was established on Sergey Brin's brilliant notion that info on the internet could be rated based upon a webpage's link popularity. It meant that the more links that point to a given page, the higher this page ranks.

If you closely examine the original Google introduction paper, you will note that PageRank is referenced. This is especially so in the explanation of the distinctive features of this search engine:

"The Google search engine comprises two important features that help it produce high precision results. First, it uses the web's link structure to calculate an excellent ranking for each webpage. This ranking is called PageRank and is further described in detail in Page 98 of the paper. Second, Google also utilizes links to improve search results."

The paper continues to outline that, "The web's citation (link) graph is a vital resource that has mostly gone unused in present web search engines."

Ideally, PageRank is majorly why Google became so unique.

Introducing the Google Toolbar:

Google, in 2000 officially announced the release of the toolbar. Of course, this is what 'all of us' we now have come to understand how we can see our website's (and our opponents') PageRank score.

Owing to this, many SEOs are obsessed over primarily establishing PageRank as an exclusive metric to enhance positions. This was driven chiefly through a well-elaborated and straightforward comprehension of this distinctive algorithm. Ideally, the algorithm highlighted website pages using the maximum number of hyperlinks must rank the maximum.

A straightforward explanation of this strategy by most SEOs in the early 2000s was that this approach aimed to get as many connections as one could get from the internet pages. In extension, it included getting the pages with the largest possible PageRank. As you would expect, this resulted in exploitation of PageRank with users trading links for cash or link farms as it was known.

In 2014, though, Google would eventually cease updating this public-facing toolbar and altogether remove it in 2016. This does not indicate that PageRank is no longer used by Google as a portion of this algorithm. It means that it ceased becoming an unrestricted metric.

An Improved PageRank Patent

A look back through history, and you will learn that PageRank's 1998 original patent expired back in 2018. What's surprising is that it was never renewed again. However, around this period, an ex-Google operative established that there is no documented use of the initial algorithm since 2016.

Nonetheless, an improved patent emerged. Ideally, this particular patent expressively references 'seed websites in the trusted seed sets.' It distinctly describes them as ‘uniquely chosen superior pages that offer great web connectivity into other webpages (non-seed).' The two highlighted examples are the New York Times and the famous Google Directory (the latter was still alive during the patent filing).

'(Speed Websites) have to be dependable, adaptably varied to cover a vast assortment of public interest areas, and nicely linked to multiple other websites. They need to have large quantities of helpful, outgoing links. This is simplify the process of identifying additional valuable & superior webpages, working in the internet realm as distinctive 'hubs'

This newly introduced patent appeared to provide a rank score into website pages primarily founded on precisely how far off the web page is from a given seed collection. Nevertheless, this patent neither references the PageRank nor claims stake as an enhanced version of this algorithm.

Instead, it's been known from the search engine optimization community that it functions as a PageRank modifier depending upon the websites' seed collection's closeness.

How Does PageRank Work?

Well, as its definition outlines, PageRank is quite simply intriguing.

It's something that each SEO (and connection builder) should know in-depth. Ideally, understanding how it works will give you a clear perspective especially why links remain among the most useful ranking Google metrics. So, exactly how does this Google-founded metric work? Well, let's find out.

After the initial patent filing and development of the original Google algorithm, the metric was centered on a unique concept. Typically, links from one site to another site served as a representation of authority and dependence. As such, the more the votes (links) a given page boasts, the more such a website should be regarded as trustworthy and subsequently rank higher.

However, as the original Google paper defines, 'PageRank effectively extends this notion by skipping the counting of links from all pages equally, and by regulating the overall link number on any given page.'

Even so, a link does not represent a direct vote. A page's authority is also considered. A link from a website page with a PageRank of 6 is eventually a relatively more trustworthy vote compared to that of a PageRank two page. SEOs refer to this unique PageRank stream as a 'link juice.'

To help you get a better understanding, this guide highlights the complete PageRank formula (and explanation) out of the first paper printed in 1997. But before we jump into it, we need to start by checking out the calculations supporting PageRank:

We can start by assuming that a given webpage B comprise pages (TI…Tn) that point towards it (are citations). Parameter c represents an exclusive dampening factor usually set between values 0 to 1.

In this guide and our example, we will set parameter d to 0.85. C (A) is outlined as all the links leaving the earlier mentioned page A. With this in mind; this is how page A's PageRank is calculated:

Formula: PR (B) = (1-d) + d (PR (T1)/C (T1) + ... + PR (Tn)/C (Tn))

Note: PageRank creates a probability dispersal over website pages. Therefore, the total of the PageRank of all the pages will be solitary.

In simple terms, this means that Page C's PageRank is obtained by multiplying Page B's PageRank by a factor 0.85 (the parameter set earlier/dampening factor).

Assuming Page C links to Page D, the latter page will get 85% of PageRank of Page C (also approximately 72.25% of Page B's total PageRank).

For web pages with no links leading to them, these pages don't start with a PageRank of 0 but 0.15. However, it gets more complex when a page has over one external link.

What Is the Difference Between PageRank and "Toolbar" PageRank?

Now that you understand what PageRank is about and the 'Toolbar' PageRank, the next important thing is to clarify how they differ.

First, you know those PageRank scores that you can ably see? These are usually known as 'toolbar' PageRank. Ideally, this differs from what is often called the 'inner' PageRank.

Inner PageRank are those scores that are constantly being upgraded. By comparison, the PageRank scores that Google enables the entire world to see (the Toolbar PageRank) is an inner PageRank image taken every month or two.

So, the essential thing to understand here is that if you have a new website, you are more likely to have low or even no PageRank scores conveyed in Google Toolbar. This may distress you, even though it will primarily influence whether you regularly get crawled. Ideally, the higher the PageRank, the better the odds of Google regularly revisiting the pages. What's more, it also significantly impacts your overall ranking ability.

It is very likely that over a given time frame, you will have gained some inner PageRank. You may subsequently see more visitors. However, the Google PageRank meter will still reveal your same old low Score. An image will then be formed, and the Score you receive will indicate precisely what has been unfolding behind the scenes.

What Factors Affect PageRank? Are they still relevant?

Obviously, some variables affect PageRank.

We've already covered the simple fact that not all connections are equal, especially when considering the PageRank, they pass. Nonetheless, what factors affect PageRank?

While there are multiple factors, this post will primarily look at the following four major elements:

  • Anchor text
  • Internal hyperlinks
  • The possibility of being clicked
  • Nofollow links

In your quest to understand how this algorithm works, you must recognize what these influencing variables are. Also, you need to know their particular importance and how they affect us today. This way, you can determine the components you need to use (and avoid) as part of your SEO strategy.

Anchor Text

Anchor texts are described in Google's original paper as follows: anchors are provisions that usually offer more precise descriptions of website pages compared to the pages themselves. In extension, the document outlines that the Google search engine treats the text of links in a unique manner.

During the early Google days, anchor texts had an immense impact on a page's ranking. For instance, if you wished to rank for a term like 'black Friday,' the more links you incorporated this term as an anchor text, the higher your webpage ranked.

Eventually, link building transformed into a race between SEO's to identify who could acquire as many specific match anchor text links as possible from the high PageRank pages.

While it was helpful for quite a while, it was complete manipulation of the Webmaster Guidelines by Google. Ideally, this is regarded as a link scheme. Currently, though, overusing anchor text manipulation will only lead to toxic links and possibly an algorithmic adjustment or manual penalty.

Internal Linking

Internal linking is a robust search engine optimization strategy, and there's a great reason why.

You can help PageRank flow through your website with a solid internal linking structure. After you understand how this functions, it's pretty easy to see why this strategy can have this noticeable effect. This is particularly so when connecting to pages that aren't linked to any other place.

The Prospect of a Link Getting Clicked

One of the significant PageRank influencers is the possibility of a link getting clicked. The Google surfer patent well references it.

According to the explanation, the novel PageRank algorithm typically dispensed an equal weight to page links. While the 2004 Reasonable Surfer patent outlined that not all links are as likely as others to get clicked, they offer a different value to different links, all dependent on their potential to get clicks.

Some of the best examples of links with a lower likelihood of being clicked include banner advertisements and 'terms of service' links. The examples could also include links in footers or similar locations.

NoFollow Links

NoFollow links stop (ed) the stream of PageRank till lately when this turned into a sign.

Historically, SEOs occasionally utilized the NoFollow feature to sculpt the stream of PageRank. Ideally, if you consider this, it meant that when a page had five outside links, PageRank would pass the one followed connection if 4 of those five were nofollowed.

In 2009, though, Google's Matt Cutts affirmed this wouldn't longer function and that PageRank will be dispersed across hyperlinks. This is even when a NoFollow feature is present (but just pass through the followed link).

How to Increase Your PageRank Score

Unfortunately, realizing that PageRank still works as a ranking mechanism is just one aspect. The other important thing you also need to know is how to impact it.

No activity can guarantee the increment of the actual PageRank score. Nonetheless, you can screen our SERP activity utilizing alternative PR metrics determined by a similar approach.

Luckily, we know two factors that infinitely influence a page's believability (hence, boosting PageRank stream to it):

  • Quality backlinks
  • Effective interlinking

Here is how you can optimize these factors.

Quality backlinks

Backlinks convey link juice to your website. Notwithstanding, you need to ensure that the link juice is of top quality; else, it very well may be unsafe. To check links highlighting your site, run a consistent backlink review.

It is important to remember that PageRank streams between pages and not domains. It implies that links from a high-authority page on a low-authority site have more weight than links from a low-authority page on a high-authority site.

For quality backlinks, you should check InLink Rank. This is to ensure your backlinks will not damage your site. How? You must check their InLink Rank scores in Website design enhancement SpyGlass. Run the device, open or make a venture for your site, and leap to the Backlinks tab.

Select your preferred backlinks, click Update, and check the Backlink Authority box. When the analysis is finished, evaluate the Domain InLink and InLink Rank.

Secondly, check the rank columns. When the backlinks' value is low (highlighted by a red dot), it tends to be a solid pointer of a malicious or low-quality link. You should run an extra check.

Note that small local establishments and new websites often have links with low PageRank values. As such, you ought to consider disposing of such links just when every factor highlights that they are spammy.

Another thing you can do is to leverage linkless mentions. With a boundless utilization of a nofollow tag, how are web search tools expected to assess security and applicability pages? Still, cautiously yet we reserve an option to say that linkless brand notices can be the eventual fate of external link establishment.

Why? Fabricating linkless mentions depends on similar standards of authenticity as building links. Also, Google utilizes online brand mentions within its search algorithm. It assesses your authority by checking all the recognition of your reputation and brand around them.

Effective inner linking

Link building is a strenuous activity, and it can turn crazy. As such, choosing to back up your PageRank stream by proficient internal linking is a friendly approach, as internal linking is absolutely in your grasp. How can you do this?

  • Establish shallow site structure: As affirmed by John Mueller during one of the Google Website admin Focal joints, getting any page 2-3 clicks far from the landing page is highly suggested. In case your site is colossal to such an extent that it receives 2-3 ticks clicks, lead to nervy laughter, use internal search and breadcrumbs and internal search to make your site's browsing simpler.
  • Eradicate orphan pages: Orphan pages are not associated with any page on your site and hence undetectable to Google. It implies no link juice. The main thing is to watch that no significant pages of yours have become orphans.
  • Add links to your main page's content: At the point when you interlink content inside your site, consider link location impacts its SEO value. The links incorporated in your main content are viewed as more important than those in the navigation components.

Where Does Google PageRank Fall Short According To Critics?

If you consider that PageRank calculation depends on links, the actual content (which is a significantly more significant factor for users) is often overlooked. Cutting-edge search engine algorithms consider this inadequacy by adding further ranking models. What's more, for a long time now, users have been purchasing links to improve site rankings.

There was subsequently a significant interest inside the Web optimization scene to get backlinks from sites with high PageRank. These links additionally gave the undertaking a high PageRank.

Notwithstanding, these values don't outline or show the added worth, trust, or substance of a site. This prompted the current Google approach meaning it no longer openly validates a site's PageRank.

For the internal assessment of sites, the PageRank has importance. This is regardless of whether the figures are not, at this point, made freely accessible by Google.

Why Did Google Retire the PageRank Toolbar?

Following Chrome's launching, when Google started to eliminate the focus on PageRank, other browsers dropped the service for this. Firefox in 2011, Google stopped it in 2016, and they've officially shut it down from Internet Explorer, also.

Unsurprisingly, while some were expecting Google to do so earlier (particularly after John Mueller's confirmation of its closure), google seems to have timed it perfectly.

In the period leading to its closure, the obsession of SEOs with PageRank had quickly escalated, and it immediately became the most concentrated on SEO strategy. In fact, it overshadowed creating great content and a good user experience.

The distribution of PageRank information over an extensive stretch implied that website admins and SEOs concentrated exclusively on these critical figures and neglected search engine optimization fundamentals.

The difficulty was that by openly sharing a PageRank Score, it became more straightforward for SEOs to control and influence factors like anchor text, nofollow, and the sensible surfer version. SEOs understood how they could utilize PageRank to rank their sites greater and reap the benefits.

But does this explain why google eradicated it? Well, if you assess this from Google's point of view, the public-facing PageRank toolbar has been the issue. With this, there was no precise measure of a website's ability (at least formally).

In the end, SEOs mistreated PageRank and used it to control positions, leaving Google without a real option other than to retire the toolbar in 2016.

Even if Google eliminated all Toolbar related scores within the public realm, the impact of the individuals who altered the net would stay. Regrettably, the SEOs who over-exploited the algorithm negatively impacted the internet, you, and everyone else.

Retiring the PageRank screen from the toolbar helps prevent confusing web admins and users concerning the metric's importance.

In an exclusive SEM Post interview, Google spokesperson highlighted the reason behind their choice to eliminate the PageRank metric. He affirmed that it was associated with the last user.

Ideally, the spokesman outlined that since our understanding of the web has grown better, the Toolbar PageRank score is now less useful for users as one isolated metric. As such, retiring the PageRank screen from the toolbar helps avoid confusion to users and webmasters concerning the metric's importance.'

Does Google have a replacement metric for PageRank?

Google has never officially published a refreshed version of the PageRank toolbar. However, PageRank is still very popular by Google, although we simply cannot measure it using a tool…not anymore!

Currently, PageRank influences search ranking algorithms and assists Google with utilizing links on the web to assess subjective estimations like websites' authority. Nonetheless, a range of SEO Software platforms and tools have rolled their jurisdiction metrics.'

A comparative algorithm was initially utilized somewhat recently with sociometry. Around then, a person's status was determined.

Washington State College has identified that the Google PageRank calculation is reasonable for deciding water molecule actual position amidst other poisonous synthetics. Moz has presented MozRank, an internal factor for the assessment of connection notoriety. Ryte's OPR is likewise an inward factor that mirrors the connection notoriety of a page.

Since PageRank is no longer publicized in toolbars or any other programs, website admins dub it unusable and therefore insignificant.

Does PageRank still matter now?

Yes, PageRank Still a thing in 2021.

Back then, everybody assessed PageRank (PR) to their site using the toolbar and examined their site to other people if desired. Even though this worked for many years, Google removed the PageRank toolbar in 2013, when things began to change, mainly due to the incredible amount of link spamming.

Many SEOs don't consider Google PageRank anymore for apparent reasons: it is old, and there is no way to find the PageRank for a page. However, just because there's no longer a toolbar that provides us with a website's PageRank score, it is not to say that it has no use now.

The truth is that PageRank has never really gone away, and knowing how it functions can only enable you to be a much better SEO. The PageRank formula is at the center of many SEO best practices. It is the main reason backlinks matter, and it is why SEO professionals nevertheless pay as much focus on internal linking.

In fact, even Google still uses it. This is according to Gary Illyes, who supported this on Twitter and acknowledged that they are using PageRank. Back in 2017. Ideally, PageRank was created as a means to assess the significance of a website to position it. Despite its 'eradication,' Google still employs the algorithm by restricting the number of links and assessing their caliber.

This means that while we may not have a toolbar, it does not mean we do not need to know how it works and its factors. In the end, you must understand that anytime you build links, assess your external links, or cater to your internal linking structure, you are typically optimizing for PageRank indirectly.

Even so, this does not mean that you need to obsess over PageRank or try optimizing your site for PageRank directly.

What Is Google PageRank?


Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

After working for multiple digital advertising agencies and managing hundreds of client accounts, spending millions of dollars via Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Native Ads and Direct Media Buying, I took things out on my own and started SparrowBoost. Now, my tight-knit team and I continue to get smarter and more efficient at running our own campaigns and we share our knowledge with you.

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