Skip to main content

Google PageRank Demystified

By January 4, 2008No Comments

The Google PageRank is the subject of wide discussion and speculation in the search engine marketing industry. Many think that it has no impact on the ranking of a page in Google, while others believe it is important. This article explains the concept of PageRank and how webmasters can increase it. It also discusses the importance and impact of PageRank on a webpage’s placement in the search engine results.

What is PageRank?

“PageRank” or “PR” is a term coined by Google to indicate the popularity of a page. The popularity of a webpage, according to Google, is determined by the number of links from other pages on the World Wide Web that point to this page.

Google considers all incoming links to a page to be a positive vote, confirming the relevancy and superiority of a page. In other words, if page B and C have a link pointing to page A, Google will consider that B and C are saying that page A is good. Of course, Google does not consider only the number of incoming link a page has. It also considers the quality of this link. If page B has a PageRank of 5 and page C a PageRank of 3, Google will consider the link from page B to bear much more significance (a vote with a higher impact) than page C.

Consequently, votes from pages B and C give a PageRank to page A. This PageRank is a grade between 0 and 10. This PageRank can be viewed on the little green bar in the GoogleToolBar. In order to view the PageRank a user should go into the options setting on the Google Toolbar and enable the service under the “More” tab. Absence of a green bar for a page means the PageRank is 0. A greyed-out PageRank indicates that the page has either not yet been indexed, assigned a PageRank or has been banned / delisted by Google.

While the PageRank algorithm is extremely complicated, for the purpose of this article it is sufficient to understand that the PR is no more than a direct indication of the number and quality of links pointing to a webpage.

PageRank explained on Wikipedia

What is a good quality backlink?

In general a link pointing to a page, which can be crawled by Google and will contribute towards an increase in the PageRank would be considered to be a good backlink for that page.

Plain text links, which consist of plain text (knows as the anchor text) surrounded by simple HTML link code are usually ideal. The URL referenced in the link HTML should point directly to the page e.g. and should not be redirected to the destination page via a script, e.g. /redir.php?linkdestination=123456. The Google algorithm cannot decipher script code and so it will not consider a redirected link to be a vote for the page in question.

Other characteristics of good backlinks include:

  • The page where the link comes from must not have a nofollow attribute (rel=”nofollow”) in the anchor tag HTML
  • Both link source and destination pages should to be relevant to each other
  • Anchor text should also be relevant to the subject of both the source and destination pages
  • The backlink should be contained in the main body of the source page rather than being placed in the footer or some obscure position
  • The source page should ideally have a higher PageRank than the one the link points to
  • The number of outgoing links from the source page should be few and should not exceed 100 links.

Google’s ongoing efforts to eliminate spam from the search results has led to a devaluation of links that have been paid for and reduction in the PageRank of websites that have a high percentage of low-quality backlinks. The former was a result of recent changes in the PageRank algorithm that led to a reduction in PR of a number of popular websites that sold links. The latter was a result of changes made in the Google algorithm that incorporated a new measure called Spam Mass. As a result, buying and selling links can adversely affect PageRank, as can having too many low quality links pointing to a page.

Influence of PageRank on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages)

It is often thought that PageRank has a direct impact on the web page’s ranking in the search engine results, and consequently a page with a PR6 will automatically have a better rank than a page with a PR4. This is note true. PageRank does not directly influence a page’s ranking on Google.

Google never uses the PageRank score itself to determine rank. However it does use (among other things) the number, quality and relevance of backlinks to determine the page’s organic placement, factors which also influence the PageRank itself.

A PR 3 page can out-rank PR 6, PR 7 and PR 8 sites from much larger companies on the strength of the anchor text and quality of links pointing to that page and the direct relevance of the links to the topic.

As mentioned earlier, the PageRank is a simple indication of the number and quality of links pointing to a page. Nothing more and nothing less.