SEO Myths – Page Rank
As we all know, Page Rank is what Google has built its success upon. It’s the formula that tells Google how important a website is, and it is one of the key bits of data Google uses when ranking results, each and every time you perform a search.
It has been used for many years by SEOs as a way to judge the importance of their website, decide if a site is worth approaching for a link, and increasingly to work out if a site has been removed from Google’s index. However, discussion on Page Rank is full of misunderstandings from both the industry and clients at our SEO company in Kent, so we have set out to dispel some of the more common Page Rank myths.
“My Toolbar Tells Me A Site’s Page Rank”
If you forget everything else about Page Rank, there is one thing you must remember. You will never know a website’s true page rank. Take a look at that little bar you’ve got in the corner of your browser that tells you a number from 1-10 for every site you land on – the chances are it’s wrong.
There are two types of page rank, true page rank (PR) and toolbar page rank (TBPR)
1. Page Rank is a closely guarded secret, and the chances are that no one (even those within Google) do not know the exact Page Rank of any site. First of all, it is calculated to way more decimal places than the basic set of 10 integers that your toolbar shows, and it is continuously recalculated by Google’s algorithms.
2. Toolbar Page Rank is the value displayed in your search bar. It is a rounded approximation of the Page Rank value that Google holds, and it is updated on average once every 3-6 months.
“My Website Is PR 5”
It’s not, neither is it PR 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10. Your homepage might be, but Page Rank is calculated for each individual web page, not for a domain as a whole. Unless you have a website with only 1 page (or a few very well linked pages), your website’s page rank will vary dramatically as you navigate across the site.
If you’re using PR as a metric for measuring the quality of a site, don’t make the mistake of landing on a deep page, noticing your TBPR reading is 0 and thinking “oh this site isn’t worth getting a link from”. Take the following two pages for example:
1. A story on BBC news from 2003 about Christmas TV viewing figures. TBPR 0: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/3351375.stm
2. The BBC news homepage. TBPR 9: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/
Would you turn down a link from BBC News? I think not.
“Page Rank is Dead”
People in SEO seem to love declaring that things are dead, SEO itself is often declared as being dead. The prognosis is not good for Page Rank, but writing the obituary would be premature. Although it’s influence on rankings is continuously diminishing and the current algorithm is a far cry from the original concept, Larry Page’s formula was incredible and it still has a huge impact on the way Google ranks results.
If your homepage is showing as PR 7, you can be proud. If you get offered a link from a site that is PR 8, then seriously consider taking up the offer. If your homepage drops from PR 7 to PR 0, you have a problem. In short, Page Rank still matters.
“Page Rank Is Named As Such Because It Indicates Where That Page Will Rank”
This one is just a little bit of trivia. The name ‘page rank’ is nothing to do with web pages. It’s named after Larry Page, the co-founder of Google who came up with the original formula.
The bottom line is to use Page Rank, but use it carefully, and don’t go checking to see if it’s changed every time you get a new inbound link. It is important when used in context, but taken on its own as the sole way to rank a site it’s useless, and an ethical SEO company will treat it with a pinch of salt. Like all things in SEO, there’s more to it than just one factor.