Five Major Misconceptions About Google Pagerank


By Timothy Arends

Perhaps you have noticed a recent increase in the PageRank assigned to your site or blog by Google (or a drop, depending on the site in question). Google has recently updated its PageRank algorithm, a move which has naturally generated a lot of discussion in the forums.

What is PageRank exactly?

It’s one of the metrics that Google uses to determine the popularity of a site. You can view the PageRank of any site by downloading the Google Toolbar, although this is available only for Internet Explorer and FireFox.

However, there are a large number of third-party browser add-ons that display PageRank. For Apple’s Safari, for example, there is PageRank Unleashed which puts a PageRank indicator in the upper right corner of the browser window.

Some webmasters may be disappointed by the amount of traffic that the new PageRank designations generate, but some of these concerns are uncertainties are due to one of the following five misconceptions about Google PageRank:

1. PageRank ranges from 0-10.

Google PageRank is not a simple sliding scale. It is actually a sort of exponential curve, and increasing one’s PageRank becomes more and more difficult the higher it gets. This means that a site with a PageRank of 8 does not get twice as much traffic as one with a PageRank of 4, but rather orders a multitude more traffic. The higher up the ranks a site may climb, the harder it becomes to reach the next level.

2. The rank that is displayed on the Google toolbar is the same one that is used in the actual results.

Google updates its PageRank continuously, but the PageRank shown on a PageRank indicator is updated sporadically; there is no exact correlation. Therefore, the rank of your website as indicated in the indicator should be seen not as an indication of your page’s current rank, but rather it’s rank at the time of the last update.

3. PageRank is the main component that Google uses to calculate its rankings.

Not necessarily true. At one time, PageRank was the cornerstone of Google’s search engine strategy; it relied on the democratic nature of the Internet and it was relatively free from abuse. However, as time progressed the Google algorithms became more sophisticated, and PageRank today is only one of many factors that Google uses to calculate its results.

Some of the other factors are the number of keywords used in page copy, backlinks in anchor text, the age of the domain, and the use of keywords in the domain name itself. Of course, Google takes pains to keep its ranking algorithms a secret to avoid abuse.

4. If Google shows an increased PageRank for your site, it means your traffic will skyrocket.

Don’t bet on it! As noted, Google continuously adjusts and updates its calculations gradually according to the number of backlinks a site has and other factors, so sudden PageRank update does not mean a correspondingly sudden increase in traffic.

5. Google PageRank is of no value whatsoever.

Although this belief was prompted by a remark by a Google spokesman himself, this is not entirely true. One reason that Google’s PageRank does not coincide with changes to its algorithm is to keep hackers from noticing a pattern that could allow them to exploit the Google algorithm.

In fact, since 2004 the PageRank updates have not been synchronized with the actual changes in the Google algorithm, so no direct correlation should be expected. However, PageRank is still the easiest and most accessible way to get a handle on how well your site is doing. Millions of people use it as a gauge for evaluating how a website is performing, and will continue to do so for some time to come.

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  1. These constant Panda updates make it very difficult to anticipate how you need to format data, backlink, etc. 3.4 just came out supposedly and is targeted at duplicate content (which is good, I hate scrapers).

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