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What Is Google PageRank Algorithm? A Guide For Searchers & Webmasters

Updated: Feb 24, 2022

What Is Google PageRank? A Guide For Searchers & Webmasters
What Is Google PageRank? A Guide For Searchers & Webmasters

Table of Contents

1. Google’s Definition: PageRank As Votes

2. Page Rank Algorithm and Implementation

3. Recent Google Edits Emphasize PageRank Just One Of Many Factors

4. PageRank For Searchers: Google Toolbar

5. PR Stands For PageRank, Not Public Relations

6. PageRank For SEOs

7. Seeing PageRank In Search Rankings

8. PageRank Versus “Toolbar” PageRank

9. Conclusion (Especially For Those Thinking I Don’t Have Time To Read)


Google PageRank. If you do SEO or are involved with Google or search, you’ll come across this topic at some point. You’ll also probably be demented by absolutely Page rank means. To solve this problem, here’s a complete guide on PageRank, designed for searchers and site owners similar. Google’s definition of PageRank.

Google’s Definition: PageRank As Votes

In a nutshell, it takes links to be like votes. In inclusion, it thinks that some votes are more main than others. PageRank is Google’s system of add uplink votes and deciding which pages are most major based on them. These scores are then used along with many other things to determine if a page will rank well in a search.

Don’t like me talking in favor of Google? No worries. When Google talks about PageRank at its site, it frequently links to Google Technology.

PageRank is known as the heart of the software, a system for ranking web pages developed by our founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University. And while we have dozens of engineers working to upgrade every feature of Google on a daily basis, PageRank continues to play a central role in many of our web search tools.
PageRank Described
PageRank depends on the remarkably democratic identity of the web by utilizing its huge link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google explains a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google examines greatly more than the sheer volume of votes or links a page receives; for example, it also surveys the page that cast the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more steadily and assist to make other pages “important”. Using these and other elements, Google gives its views on pages’ relative significance. 
Naturally, main pages mean nothing to you if they don’t match your question. So, Google joined PageRank with worldly text-matching techniques to search pages that are both main and pertinent to your search. Google goes far off the number of times a term seems on a page and inspects all aspects of the page’s content to decide if it’s good to match for your query.

Page Rank Algorithm and Implementation

PageRank (PR) is an algorithm used by Google Search to rank websites in their search engine results. PageRank was named given after Larry page, one of the founders of Google. PageRank is a way of measuring the importance of website pages.

According to Google how Search algorithms work:

With the quantity of information available on the web, searching what you requirement would be closely impossible without some help classifying through it. Google ranking systems are designed to do just that: sort through hundreds of billions of webpages in our Search index to search the most relevant, useful results in a fraction of a second, and present them in a way that assists you search what you're searching for.

These ranking systems are made up of not one, but a full series of algorithms. To give you the most useful information, Search algorithms depend on many factors, including the words of your query, related and usability of pages, expertise of sources, and your location and settings. The weight put in to each factor varies depending on the nature of your query-for example, the freshness and uniqueness of the content plays a huge role in answering queries about recent news topics than it does about dictionary definitions.

To assist make sure Search algorithms meet high standards of relevance and quality, we have a rigorous process that includes both live tests and thousands of trained external Search Quality Raters from around the world. These Quality Raters follow stern guidelines that defines our goals for Search algorithms and are publicly available for anyone to see.

Learn in detail about the key factors that help determine which results are returned for query:

1. Meaning of the query

Understand the meaning of the query what exactly reader query is. To return relevant results for your query, we first require to establish what information you're looking for-the purpose behind your query. Understanding intent is fundamentally about understanding language, and is a critical phase of Search. We build language models to try to decipher what strings of words we should look up in the index.

This includes steps as apparently simple as interpreting spelling mistakes, and extends to trying to understand the type of query you've entered by applying some of the latest research on natural language understanding. For example, our synonym system help Search know what you mean by establishing that multiple words mean the same thing. This system took over five years to develop and notably improves results in over 30% of searches across languages.

Far of synonyms, Search algorithms also try to understand what category of information you are searching for. Is it a very particular search or a broad query? Are there words such as "review" or "pictures" or "opening hours" that shows a particular information require behind the search? Is the query written in French, recommending that you want answers in that language? Or are you searching for a nearby business and want local info?

Especially important dimension of this query categorization is our analysis of whether your query is looking out fresh content. If you search for trending keywords, our freshness algorithms will explain that as a signal that up-to-date information might be more useful than older pages. This means that when you're searching for the latest "NFL scores", "dancing with the stars" results or "exxon earnings", you'll see the latest information.

2. Relevance of webpages

Next point is about relevance of webpages to assess whether the page contains information that might be related to what you are looking for.

The most basic signal that information is related is when a webpage contains the same keywords as your search query. If those keywords appear on the page, of if they appear in the headings or body of the text, the information is more likely to be relevant. Beyond simple keyword matching, we use aggregated and anonymized interaction data to evaluate whether search results are related to queries. We transform that data into signals that help our machine-learned systems better estimate relevance.

3. Quality of content

Far off matching the words in your query with relevant documents on the web, Search algorithms also goal to prioritize the most reliable sources available. To do this, our systems are designed to recognize signals that can help determine which pages demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness on a given topic.

We look for sites that lots of users seem to value for similar queries. For example, if other prominent websites link to the page (what is known as PageRank), that has been proven to be a good sign that the information is well trusted. Aggregated feedback from our search quality evaluation process is used to further refine how our systems discern the quality of information.

4. Usability of webpages

When ranking results, Google Search also assess whether webpages are easy to use. When we recognize persistent user pain points, we develop algorithms to promote more usable pages over less usable ones, all other things being equal.

These algorithms analyze signals that shows whether all our users are able to view the result, like whether the site appears correctly in other browsers, whether it is designed for all device types and sizes, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones, and whether the page loading times work well for users with slow internet connections.

Since website owners can enhance the usability of their site, we work hard to inform site owners in advance of noteworthy, actionable changes to our search algorithms. For example, in January 2018 we announced that our algorithms would being to consider the "page speed" of sites, six months before the changes went live. To aid website owners, we provided detailed guidance and tools such as PageSpeed Insights and so site owners could see what (if anything) they required to adjust to make their sites more mobile friendly.

5. Context and settings

Information like your location, past Search history and search settings all help us to tailor your results to what is most useful and related for you in that moment. We use your country and location to deliver content related for your area. For instance, if you're in Chicago and you search Football" in London, Google will rank results about soccer and the Premier League higher. Search settings are also an important indicator of which results you're likely to get useful, such as if you set a preferred language or opted in to SafeSearch (a tool that helps filter out explicit results).

In some cases, we may also personalize your results using information about your recent Search activity. Let's take an example, you search for "Barcelona" and recently searched for "Barcelona vs Arsenal" that could be an important clue that you want information about the football club, not the city.

Search also includes some attributes that personalize results based on the activity in your Google account. For example, if you search for "events near me" Google may tailor some suggestions to event categories we think you may be interested in. These systems are designed to match your interests, but they are not designed to deduce sensitive characteristics such as your race, religion, or political party.

You can control what search activity is used to improve your Search experience, including adjusting what data to your Google account, at To disable search personalization based on activity in your account, turn off Web & App Activity.

Recent Google Edits Emphasize PageRank Just One Of Many Factors

PageRank credentials were also updated on the Google corporate philosophy page:

Google works because it depends on the millions of individuals posting links on websites to assist regulate which other sites provide content of value. Google evaluates the value of every web page using various techniques, including its idiomatic PageRank algorithm which examines which sites have been “voted” the best sources of information by other pages across the web.
This technique actually better as the web gets bigger, as each new site is another point of information and another vote to be counted.

The improvements are interesting. Google is somewhat certified that PageRank is necessary but not the sole part in how pages are ranked. That’s good because as I’ll describe, too many people have fixated on PageRank scores for too long.

PageRank For Searchers: Google Toolbar

Let’s start with how PageRank is used by Google for searchers. First and foremost, it is one of many factors used for ranking pages. You can’t see PageRank when you hunt (normally, that is. further below I’ll describe how you can see it), but beyond the scenes, it assists in part to decide if a page will show up in the top search results or not. Most seekers encounter PageRank by the Google Toolbar. The toolbar has a “PageRank meter” that Google itself fails to completely describe in its online assist files. For example, when writing my Google Search History Expands, Becomes Web History article last week, I consumed some time going by all the Google Toolbar assist files to search for a good explanation to link to about the meter.

This was the best I search, a short bring up that says:

Think about whether a new website benefits your time? Use the Toolbar’s PageRank shows to inform you how Google evaluates the importance of the page you’re seeing.

How it works. If you’ve installed the Google Toolbar, you may have the PageRank meter installed. If so, it looks it as shown below:

Google PageRank

The big green bar is shown below? That’s the PageRank meter. If you put the mouse cursor on it you will see a PageRank score for the page you are visiting, such as given below:

Google PageRank

That’s Google showing you first the score of the page you’re searching at (10) and the maximum value a page can have overall (10). Google is perfect.

Displaying both numbers makes more sense when you get to less perfect pages.

Google PageRank

See how we are a 7/10? It means we have a PageRank of 7 out of 10 feasible points. Less than perfect. Sniff, sniff. Not to worry. It is not a bad score for the home page of a website that’s only four months old.

Attention how the bar also isn’t all green, in the process, it was totally “full” with Google? Rather than, such a thermometer, it is only relatively filled 7/10ths of the way, to visibly mean the page’s PageRank score.

Check this is another page:

Google PageRank

Oooh! Zero! This is a dreadful page! Literally, no. In this case, I tried to hold out a page that doesn’t exist at Search Engine Land. It shows an error. Since the page doesn’t exist, Google has no PageRank score to report back. That is the reason you get a 0 out of 10 scores for it. Notice also how the meter has no green, to display no PageRank for the page.

Lots of searchers may have never seen the PageRank meter. That’s because by default, until last week, it was never switched on. You had to manually select to do it, and it was mostly searching engine optimization people that did so.

[Postscript: Google’s Matt Cutts, after reading this, commented: “A lot of regular people select to opt-in to PageRank as well. I trust the number of people that opt-in to see PageRank is much larger than the set of active SEOs.”]

Google Search History Expands, becomes web history describes how many more searchers will soon begin to discern PageRank scores. The reason behind this is in some cases, the Google Toolbar will get downloaded with it authorized. In other cases, Google will stimulate you to switch the meter on.

If you don’t have a PageRank meter and wanted it? Happy with the privacy concerns my article describes (as does Google itself)? Tab on the Settings option in the toolbar, then select options, after that go to the More tab, and then the “Even more buttons” area, check the “PageRank and Page Info” button. Now the meter is enabled.

PR Stands For PageRank, Not Public Relations

What search engine optimization people say, those SEOs are the group that designed the acronym you might sometimes hear: PR, for Google PageRank.

Let’s take an example, Google’s home page that was PageRank 10 out of 10 would be shorted to PR10. Search Engine Land, with 7 out of 10, is PR7. That error page? PRO.

PageRank In The Google Directory

Do you know there’s a place in Google where pages are listed because human editors have chosen them, alternately Google’s crawling of the web? It’s called the Google Directory, and it’s based on work done by editors at the Open Directory Project.

When Google added the open directory’s information to its site back in March 2000, the major difference was that the Google Directory edition classified listings according to PageRank score.

Here is an example, compare the classification of search blogs at Google to the Open Directory.

Google PageRank

These are precisely the same categories, Google on the left, Open Directory on the right side. They should be almost identical. There are two major reasons for it.

First, Google is WAY out of date. You can discern the Open Directory has many more listings than Google appears. Google no doubt hasn’t bothered to grasp the most recent listings from the Open Directory for months. That’s not astonishing. Once a key part of Google, the Google Directory was dropped let fall from the Google home page, and downgrade to the More.

Google Products page back in March 2004. It’s not precedence. In addition, the Open Directory itself has been or not making new information obtainable for download on occasion.

The other major dissimilarity is that the listings in the Google Directory are categories by PageRank. See how under the “Web Pages” bar in the Google Directory, every single site has a PageRank meter image next to it? For searchers, that reveal the page’s PageRank score. As explained in the Google Directory’s assist pages.

PageRank For SEOs

I’ve shown the two key ways that PageRank is detectable to searchers plus bring up that behind the scenes, it is one of many components that help outrank webpages. How pages are ranked is, of course, of eager interest to SEOs.

Wistfully - so, so wistfully - far too many SEOs in the grip of on the Google PageRank meter when it came out first through the Google Directory and then later in December 2000 via the Google Toolbar. They concentrated on getting links from high PR pages without perceiving that PageRank alone wasn’t enough.

As I wrote:

The problem of links and search engines, in specific the approach of Google’s use of links, has gotten out of hand. For many, the original reason for linking has been lost out of the wishes to generally do whatever they trust Google might like.
All main crawler-based search engines leverage links from across the web, but none of them report a static “importance” score in the way Google does via its Google Toolbar. That score, while a big resource for surfers, has also given one of the few windows into how Google ranks web pages. Some webmasters, distressed to get inside Google, keep flying into that window such demented birds, striking their heads and losing their orientation…
Site owners are making use of the toolbar to search “good” sites that they should get links from, any way of the fact that link context is also important, not to bring up many, many other components that are used by Google to rank a web page. Other site owners, getting a silvery PR0 toolbar for their site, quickly assume the defeated, that they’ve been blacklisted.
Enough, please, enough. Forget the Google Toolbar meter. Forget about worrying about good or bad links according to Google. Just forget Google, when we talk about link building.

PageRank is only a score that shows the value of pages, as Google approximates, (Moreover, that approximate importance is taken to Google’s opinion and secured in the US by the First Amendment. When Google was once prosecuted for altering PageRank scores for some sites, a US court ruled: “PageRank's are opinions - opinions of the importance of specific Web sites as they communicate to a search query...the court finished Google’s PageRank's are entitled to full constitutional protection.)

Get a link to your pages from a high PR page and yes, some of that PageRank value is transferred to your page. But that’s doesn’t take into account the context of the link - the words in the link - the anchor text. If you don’t have an idea what is anchor text, Google Now Reporting Anchor Text Phrases from me last month will take you through the hand and describes it more.

Here’s a fast survey. Say you’re Nike and want to rank for the word “shoes”. You get hundreds of PR9 pages to link to you this way:

Amazing! All those pages are going to send tons and tons of PageRank your way! You’ll be seen as important! But important for what? Google’s going to see the word in the link itself as a key signal to show that. The word says “Nike”, so happy day, Nike ranks for its name!

Now let’s say you’re Zappos. Not being as big as Nike, you don’t get links from all those PR9 sites. You get them rather than a mix of PR4, PR5, and PR6 sites. They all link to you like this:

The value of the links is less, true. But they do have some significance. They bring some weight. Plus, what they say - the applicability of the words - is key. They’re indicating at you and saying the word “shoes” in the links. That’s going to assist you to rank better for the word “shoes”, almost surely much better than all those links Nike has.

If you don’t have to believe in me? Google Declares Stephen Colbert As Greatest Living American describes how the words in the links to Colbert Nation (rather than the PageRank from those links) currently shot that site up in the ranking for “greatest living American”, while Google kills Bush’s Miserable Failure Search & Other Google Bombs and George W. Bush: A Failure Once Again, According To Google describes how the words in links used to have a collision for George W. Bush ranking on “dejected failure”.

Seeing PageRank In Search Rankings

I still don’t need to believe in me, that PageRank isn’t the most valuable thing when it comes to ranking well on Google? Here’s a method I’ve been demonstrating for years. Search for something, then check out below the top-ranked page has a PageRank score higher than the top listing. If so (and it is so), that tells you PageRank is not the most important factor.

Let’s explain it. Here’s a search for movies:

Google PageRank

Just check out how the search results have PageRank meters in them? I used the PageRank Search tool at SEO Chat to make that happen. See how - listed first - has a PR8 score while the internet movie database has a PR9? The lower PageRank page still got the higher search rank!

Like seeing these scores in your results? Google doesn’t make that a choice for searchers. Appear odd? It makes sense and underscores my major point.

PageRank is one of the factors used to generate search rankings. Underlining PageRank in search results doesn’t help the searchers. Because Google uses one more system to display the most important pages for a specific search you do. It lists them in the order necessary for what you searched on. Build on PageRank scores to search results would just confuse people. They’d awe why pages with lower scores were outranking higher scored pages.

In dissimilarity, if you’re searching at a single page, like when you are surfing the web, you no more want the search ranking but sooner an idea of how important or well thought of that page might be. This is where PageRank makes more sense.

Naturally, SEOs and others may want PageRank in search results. The tool above is just one of many that do this. For a browser-based tool, try SEO for Firefox from SEO Book.

PageRank Versus “Toolbar” PageRank

Those PageRank scores that you can see? Those are frequently mentioned as “toolbar” PageRank. This is different from what’s often called “internal” PageRank.

Internal PageRank is the PageRank scores that Google uses as an element of its ranking algorithm. Those scores are always being updated. Indifference, the PageRank scores that Google permits the world to see - Toolbar PageRank - is a snapshot of internal PageRank taken every few months.

What is important here to know? If you’re a brand new site, you’ll likely have a low or no PageRank score detailed report in the Google Toolbar. That might bother you, still, it will mostly affect you get crawled as usual (the higher your PageRank, the likely Google will regularly revisit your pages). It does also have an effect on your ranking capacity, of course.

It’s probably that after a few weeks, you’ll have obtained some internal PageRank. You may see more traffic, as a result. But externally, the Google Toolbar PageRank meter will quite show your same old dispiriting score. Then a snapshot will be made, and the better score you get will throw back what’s already been happening behind the scenes.

More info on PageRank from Google’s Matt Cutts describes more about this and other features of PageRank. You can also attempt the Future PageRank tool if you perceive from different sources that a PageRank update is in progress for the toolbar. It might give you an untimely glance at your score to come.

Conclusion (Especially For Those Thinking I Don’t Have Time To Read)

There is a lot more about PageRank, but I hope this article gives you a good introduction and some clarity about it. Here are the key points to remember:

  • PageRank describes how important a page is, almost speaking, compared to other pages.

  • PageRank is just one of many ranking elements used to decide ranking in search results.

  • High PageRank does not assurance a high search ranking for any specific term. If it did, then PR10 sites such as Adobe would always show up for any search you do. They don’t.

  • The anchor text of a link is often far more important than whether it’s on a high PageRank page.

And if you seriously want to know what are the most important, relative pages to get links from, forget Google PageRank. Think about Search rank. Find the words you’d like to rank for. Search for the top of the page in Google. Those are the most important and relative pages you want to search links from. Because Google is explicitly telling you that on the topic you are looking for, these are the best.

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