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PageRank: FAQs, Update History, PageRank Checker & More

PageRank is Google’s measure of link value with respect to your website – it evaluates the links to your site and allocates a value to them which is aggregated into a PageRank value between 0 and 10 (usually abbreviated to PR0 thru’ PR10).  You can see a graphical measure of PageRank in the bar icon which is enabled in some web browsers, but this is almost always out of date (so ignore it).

You really need to understand what is going on behind the scenes to understand why PageRank is so important to your site success.

Why Does PageRank Matter?
A higher PageRank will contribute to a higher ranking in Google search results for your keywords.  A higher ranking generates more search engine traffic which means, more conversions.

That’s why PageRank matters.
Google uses the PageRank calculation to assign a relative rank between different websites using the same keywords as each other.  If your keyword is “laptop”, this is a competitive keyword and tens of thousands of websites will be targeting the same word, however Google wants to return the most relevant search results to the surfer.  A higher PageRank is a sign of greater relevance and authority so a site with PR8 will get a higher ranking than a site with PR5.

PageRank in Detail
One aspect of PageRank to realize is that it is a value assigned to web pages and not just the whole site – each page has a PageRank value (also known as “Link Juice”).  Remember this in the following analysis.

PageRank measures the value of links to your site and it does this by analyzing the incoming links for authority and relevance.  All links are not created equal, so a link from a website which has PR9, will be more valuable than a link coming in from a site with a PR2 (the higher the PageRank of a site, the more important it is).

The calculation doesn’t stop there.

Assume you have two web pages linking to yours and both have a PR5 – their importance is not the same for calculating your PageRank.  Google will also calculate how many outbound links these originating web pages have and apportion a share of their respective PR to each of the inbound links to your own.  For instance, Site A has only 1 outbound link (to you) but, Site B has 5 outbound links – Site A contributes more value to your PageRank calculation than Site B’s, which is apportioned between the 5 outbound links.

In effect, the PageRank of a web page determines how much value its outbound links can contribute to other websites.

Google’s PageRank also assesses the relevance of the inbound link to your website.  Assume your website sells laptops, but one of the inbound links is from a website which sells socks.  Socks will have zero relevance to laptops, so even if the sock web page has a high PR value, Google will assign a reduced value to that inbound link.  If the link came from a laptop accessory supplier, it would be far more valuable as it is more relevant even though it may have a reduced PageRank value than the sock site.

The Impact for Link Building Strategies

Good, inbound link-building is very important for gaining higher PageRank, and therefore a higher Google search engine listing.  Your inbound links must be from relevant sites and preferably from sites with a good PageRank rating themselves.

PageRank has one quality which websites need to control – it flows – not just to your web pages, but also away from them.  This is known as “leakage”.
Just as you are assigned PageRank value from sites linking to you, you also lose PageRank when you link out to other web pages (even if your outbound links are using the NoFollow tag).  This creates a dilemma for website designers and owners because PageRank is transferred between web pages, and not simply web sites, which means that links between pages on your own site are leaking PageRank to each other.  You are also donating PageRank when you link to external websites but you will use outbound links to create interest for your users, or to incorporate enhanced functionality from a third party service, e.g. payment processing!

Takeaway
PageRank is Google’s measure of the relative authority and relevance of a web page based on the links created to and from it.  A higher PR will contribute to a higher search engine ranking against other web sites using the same keywords as you.  PageRank distinguishes between links from relevant web pages and irrelevant ones as well as those with different PageRank values.  PageRank flows to and from web pages, so it is essential you effectively manage the internal links on your website and your outbound links to external web pages.

Since 2007 we've helped thousands of business earn higher ranks in Google, Yahoo and Bing. "If you don't rank, you don't pay!"
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