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Google PageRank – is it valuable?

December 4, 2004

There’s been recent discussion on the net that Google’s PageRank may not be as valuable to search engine rankings as we’ve thought.

As way of background, each Web and blog site on the Internet has a Google PageRank from 0 to 10. The rank is displayed in the Google Toolbar downloaded from Google. If a Web or blog site has a high PageRank the site is viewed by Google as being of higher quality. PageRank is in large part determined by the number of incoming links to a site, with greater weight being given to incoming links from sites with a higher PageRank.

Google technology provides this explanation on PageRank on their site:

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.”

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 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.

Though not confirmed, a post at Search Engine Watch claims the PageRank displayed on the Google toolbar to be of entertainment value only. The forum member said that he emailed Google asking why a page’s PageRank is zero and he got the following response from Google:

The PageRank that is displayed in the Google Toolbar is for entertainment purposes only. Due to repeated attempts by hackers to access this data, Google updates the PageRank data very infrequently because is it not secure. On average, the PR that is displayed in the Google Toolbar is several months old. If the toolbar is showing a PR of zero, this is because the user is visiting a new URL that hasn’t been updated in the last update. The PR that is displayed by the Google Toolbar is not the same PR that is used to rank the webpage results so there is no need to be concerned if your PR is displayed as zero. If a site is showing up in the search results, it doesn’t not have a real PR of zero, the Toolbar is just out of date.

Bottom line: looks like Google is still using PageRank to rank sites but is not giving us the current PageRank via the Google Toolbar.

My source for this post: Search Engine Roundtable.

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