What is Google PageRank?

A question I’ve been asked by a number of people concerns Google’s PageRank index: what it is, how is useful and how can it be improved. Because of this, I thought I’d just group them all up and make one post with them.

So, let’s start at the top. What is PageRank? This is an algorithm used by Google to help measure the relative importance of pages on the Internet. It was developed by the two founders of Google: Sergey Brin and Larry Page. In face the “Page” in PageRank allegedly was coined by Larry Page. The best description I’ve come across about how PageRank works is a description by Google:

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”.

How important is PageRank to you? Well, if you don’t own or run a website then the answer is “Not Very”. Google uses it to find the things you’re looking for on the Web, but you don’t need to worry about how it works. If you do run a website however, it’s good to know what your PageRank is and how you can improve it. There are a number of ways of finding out what your page rank is, ranging from running the Google Toolbar to websites that can tell you what it is.

And now for the $6 million question, how can PageRank be improved? Well, if you look at the description above you can gather that it depends on the number and quality of pages that link to your website. If you don’t have any pages linking to your website then your PR is going to be low. If you have thousands of high-quality pages linking to your website, this will push your PR up. There’s lots of debate around this topic on various webmaster and SEO forums. It’s also worth nothing that PR is something that is updated every few weeks by Google, so if your incoming links improve all of a sudden, it will take some time for this to be reflected in your PR.

My advice about the whole PR issue? Well Page Rank is simply one measure of the effectiveness of your website and focusing too much on this can be detrimental to your sanity. I would recommend that instead you focus on providing unique and valuable content on your website. If there is any real value there, people will have no problem linking to it and talking about it, and this will in turn elevante your PageRank. So stop worrying about the numbers and enjoy what you do!

10 thoughts on “What is Google PageRank?”

  1. Thank you for the clarification! I will be off to blog then without another thought about google pang ranking.

    Er so what is Technorati?

  2. I think your advice is right-on, but unfortunately, companies like PayPerPost use PR as a segmentation tool, so if we want to improve our opps with them, we have to figure out ways to push up our PR. And since lower-ranking links don’t help, asking a lot of people with PR0 blogs to add you to their blogroll isn’t going to improve it. It would be nice to figure out a way to work within the PR system and help ourselves raise our numbers!

  3. You said:
    “PR is something that is updated every few weeks”
    Does anyone know how often it is updated?

    Another question I’d love to know the answer to is how long does it take a website to get a PageRank? For example I started my blog on April 14th and I did not get a PageRank in the latest upgrade. I guess that the answer to the question might depend a bit on my traffic but do you have any guesses on how long it might take me to get one?

  4. Great article, I think that pagerank should be one of the least important things to focus on though. I agree with you on providing quality content, and doing actual SEO is more important,.

  5. It is more the backlinks than the page rank that is important, having more quality links will increase one search engine position. The higher you are the more chances visitors will be able to find you, hence more traffic. Providing quality content is important but doing some SEO to improve one readership, ranking position is important too. Even one has good content, readers not necessary read your content as there are hundreds of thousands of blogs on the Internet, readers have many choices to choose from so it is important to make one blog easy to find on the Internet.

  6. I think you only need to be concerned about PageRank for your website if it drops. There is proof that a lower PR site can outrank competitors of a higher PR with a more targeted approach.

  7. Larry has explained the “Page Rank” concept exceptionally well indeed! Generally high page ranked websites are quality websites as google grants goog page rank to only well structured, good content and unique websites and blogs. Thanks a lot!!

  8. I think you are right about the fact that Page Rank is not very important – though our site has a very nice one :).
    What I want to say is increasing page rank, but appearing in search engine page results for your targeted keywords. I’ve seen cases in which pages with PR 2 appeared in search engine results pages in a higher position that one with PR 4. And the reality is that content, linking is important, but PR is just a method of evaluating your page. And that’s all.

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