Google page rank is still relevant today, and there are a considerable number of proofs to support the idea. Being one of the top search engines in the world, Google’s ranking can still influence your online presence, and hence your business.
As for why people think Google Rage ranking is dead, here is an image of Google’s Toolbar PageRank:
In the image you can see the toolbar, which told about the Google PageRank of every page ever visited from scale from 0–10. Then, Google removed the Toolbar in 2016. But, that’s the not problem here. Google had stopped updating it for many years before removing it. It made many SEO experts to believe that Google Page Rank was dead.
Here is an example of what people thought about the PageRank:
There were many who thought likewise. But, the fact is Google PageRank is as important today as it was before. Here is the biggest proof of it, by the words of someone who works for Google:
Image source – https://twitter.com/methode/status/829755916895535104
It is not the only proof available. In a conference in Singapore, Gary Illyes spoke about the PageRank still being an integral part of their algorithms. He clarified that the removal of the Toolbar doesn’t have any bearing on the relevancy of the PageRank formula and algorithms.
The article will explore PageRank and how it is still a relevant SEO tactics. The article aims:
- To provide you information and hard evidence of PageRank in 2018
- Explain how the PageRank formula works
- Other metrics used for PageRank
Let’s start with the Obvious Question – What is Google PageRank
If you are new to SEO or simply want to know what Google PageRank is, it’s the metrics or formula that calculates the “value of a page” of a website through quality and quantity of the link it has. It determines how relevant the website is for the searchers and the users.
Here is what they said about it back then:
“Our main goal is to improve the quality of web search engines.”
An interesting fact: Search engines weren’t as efficient as Google is now. Other search engines like Yahoo and Altavista weren’t that great with a very irrelevant search results.
Here’s an excerpt of what Sergey and Larry said about the state of search engines in their original paper:
“Anyone who has used a search engine recently can readily testify that the completeness of the index is not the only factor in the quality of search results. “Junk results” often wash out any results that a user is interested in.”
PageRank feature aimed at solving the problem of search relevance by using the citation or link graph of the web. Google co-founders were of the opinion that this feature was largely ignored, but it held a great importance.
How this brilliant idea originated?
The Co-founders of the Google used the method scientist used to ascertain the importance of scientific papers. A scientific paper is judged by the number of references it gets. The same formula was used where the website links shared on other website was tracked. It proved to be highly effective and that’s how Google came into being.
The Next question – How Does Google PageRank Work
The original paper published in 1997, explained the PageRank formula. You can read the original paper here
Here is the PageRank formula for your benefits:
“We assume page A has pages T1…Tn which point to it (i.e., are citations). The parameter d is a damping factor which can be set between 0 and 1. We usually set d to 0.85. There are more details about d in the next section. Also C(A) is defined as the number of links going out of page A. The PageRank of a page A is given as follows:
PR(A) = (1‐d) + d (PR(T1)/C(T1) + … + PR(Tn)/C(Tn))
Note that the PageRanks form a probability distribution over web pages, so the sum of all web pages’ PageRanks will be one.”
The formula describes how Google ranks websites. The three things that Google uses when calculating the PageRank are:
- The quality and number of inbound links on the page
- The number of outbound links
- And, the ranking of each link
In simple words, assume that a page has two links and one link is stronger than the other one but with fewer outgoing links. The information is then fed to the PageRank algorithm to determine the rank of that page on Google.
Image Source – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank
The PageRank tool had one interesting factor that determined how important the rank was for any website.
Here is an image:
Now, this damping factor is crucial for understanding how the Google PageRank works. The page with the first rank on Google Search Engine page had the highest possibility of getting the click. The possibility of clicks decreases as you o down the rank pages. The second website below the first one may not get the number of clicks as the Website-1. Now, the probability of clicks decreases as you go down the page.
What was the reason for the removal of Google PageRank?
It’s the most important question of all. If Google ranking matters, then why the toolbar was removed from the Google result page?
Here’s the statement of a Google spokesperson said in 2016:
As the Internet and our understanding of the Internet have grown in complexity, the Toolbar PageRank score has become less useful to users as a single isolated metric. Retiring the PageRank display from Toolbar helps avoid confusing users and webmasters about the significance of the metric.
The statement clearly states that the Toolbar was creating problems, such as spam links. The PageRank factor was then considered as the biggest proof that the page was relevant and high quality. The toolbar displayed the ranking to the users, making people believe that it’s the only thing that mattered.
Other useful metrics were ignored and this also led to some various link-building activities, which weren’t helping the matter. Today, link-building has become a huge industry and people are buying and selling so called High PR links.
Here are some of reasons why the tool bar was removed:
- Introduction of Nofollow attribute
Obviously, this affected the relevancy of the PageRank and it was not what Google had expected it to be. One of the biggest nuisances was the high PR link building tactics like blog comments. They were the unnatural links earned in the most devious ways.
Google then partnered with other Search Engine to tackle the problem and initiated the Nofollow attribute. Here is the official statement that explains it better:
Here’s an excerpt from Google’s official statement on the introduction of “nofollow”:
“If you’re a blogger (or a blog reader), you’re painfully familiar with people who try to raise their own websites’ search engine rankings by submitting linked blog comments like “Visit my discount pharmaceuticals site.” This is called comment spam, we don’t like it either, and we’ve been testing a new tag that blocks it. From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel=“nofollow”) on hyperlinks, those links won’t get any credit when we rank websites in our search results.”
Now almost all CMS have introduced “nofollow” attributes that make any blog comment link irreverent.
- PageRank sculpting
The unfollow attribute solved the problem of link spam, but only partially. Now, the same feature posed problem for the webmaster. Here is how:
Originally, the PageRank worked in a way that divided the ranking equally between the outgoing links on a page. For example, if a webpage has A ranking and had ten outgoing links, the PageRank will be calculate as A/10.
Now, if the webmasters used the nofollow attribute on 9 links out of the 10 links, the flow of PageRank transferred via the number of links will be one.
Look at the image:
The image clearly explains what was expected, but that didn’t last long.
The webmasters now manipulated the formula to drive high PR to their specific pages by selectively using the nofollow the links that deemed unimportant. Now, if they already had a high ranking page and they wanted to boost the ranking the ranking of specific page of their own website, they would link to High PR page and nofollow all the other links in the specific page. This would drive all the PageRank to that specific page.
Google made another change:
Here’s an excerpt from Matt Cutts’ blog post on the matter:
“So what happens when you have a page with “ten PageRank points” and ten outgoing links, and five of those links are nofollowed? […] Originally, the five links without nofollow would have flowed two points of PageRank each […] More than a year ago, Google changed how the PageRank flows so that the five links without nofollow would flow one point of PageRank each.”
And, this is what the new results looked like:
Image Source – https://www.woorank.com/en/edu/seo-guides/link-juice
By now you know that whether a webmaster uses nofollow or not, the PageRank is equally divided among the links on the page. The page won’t earn any extra points by using nofollow deliberately.
- Google removes the public PageRank score
Google removed the PageRank data from Webmaster Tools and stopped updating it way before it officially removed the Toolbar.
Here is what Google’s John Mueller said about using the PageRank:
“I wouldn’t use PageRank or links as a metric. We’ve last updated PageRank more than a year ago (as far as I recall) and have no plans to do further updates. Think about what you want users to do on your site, and consider an appropriate metric for that.”
The Toolbar PageRank was officially axed in 2016. Now, that there was no way of knowing the actual result of link building, the selling and buying of the High PageRank became very difficult.
Is There any Alternative to the public PageRank score
While there is no PageRank like metric available, there are various other metrics that are as good as the PageRank.
One such example is the Ahrefs’ URL Rating (UR). You can also check out other similar metrics by Moz and Majestic too.
Here is how the Ahrefs’ URL Rating (UR) works:
- What is URL Rating?
“Ahrefs’ URL Rating (UR) is a metric that shows how strong a backlink profile of a *target URL* is on a scale from 1 to 100.”
You can check the rating of the URL in two ways:
By pasting the URL on the site explorer like here
Or you can use the Ahrefs’ SEO toolbar instead,
- Similarities Between URL Rating (UR) and PageRank
URL Rating is very similar to the Google’s PageRank, but it’s not the same. The PageRank formula is safe with the Google and there is no way anyone can replicate it.
The URL Rating is similar to the PageRank in many ways:
- Counts links between pages;
- Use the “nofollow” attribute;
- Uses the “damping factor”;
The Ahrefs’ URL Rating (UR) crawls the web just like the Google to calculate the accurate URK rating of the website. It is obvious that Google has upgraded its PageRank formula and metrics, which is why it is the most preferred search engine in the world.
A quote from Matt Cutts, on PageRank sculpting sums up the point:
“Even when I joined the company in 2000, Google was doing more sophisticated link computation than you would observe from the classic PageRank papers. If you believe that Google stopped innovating in link analysis, that’s a flawed assumption. Although we still refer to it as PageRank, Google’s ability to compute reputation based on links has advanced considerably over the years.”
- Difference Between URL Rating (UR) and Google PageRank
Like the similarities, there are many differences between the URL Rating and Google PageRank.
Google has filed many patents for the algorithms it used for the ranking. But, that doesn’t make it any easier. No one can tell for sure what factors Google uses when ranking the pages. Every year, it changes its algorithms and metrics to rank websites.
Here is an image that illustrates the point
By the image you can see that Ahrefs’ crawler counts eight links to page B. But, that is just Ahrefs’ URL Rating does. Nobody can tell how Google does it. Counting of the links aren’t the only important questions.
Here are some of the points considered when rating the page:
- Role Played by Location of the Link on page
From the Google’s reasonable surfer patent it can be deduced that link location on the document influences the ranking.
If the link is higher up in the document, it may get more PageRank that one located down the page.
- The Relation Between the internal links and External Links transfer
The question arises whether the PageRank works the same way for both the internal and external links.
Google’s reasonable surfer patent offers some insight into it, there is no certain way of telling it. Although, it does indicate that internal and external links exert the same authority over the PageRank.
There is certainly no way of telling if the factor is part of the Google’s Live Algorithms.
- The Influence of First Link on the Page and subsequent links on PageRanking
It is possible to say that the first link on the website is considered for the scores of the page and the following links on the same site may be ignored. Bill Slawski said the same thing about the links.
Here is an image that shows the correlation between the links and their ranking value as compared to the subsequent links:
URL Rating (UR) is a fair alternative to the PageRank as it shares a lot of common features with the original formula. However, nothing is certain and predictable. So, it is advised that you not to rely on the URL Rating entirely. Follow it up by checking the links manually.
How to preserve and Improve your PageRank
Now, that it’s clear that Google uses Live Algorithms for ranking the pages and it’s still relevant. It is also clear that there is no way to determine how Google Algorithms work. The best thing you can do us work on your page and raise its quality using some of the proven methods:
- Internal links: Relation between the links you use on your page and the ranking
- External links: The important of external links and “nofollow” external links.
- Backlinks: Preserve the backlinks
How to do internal linking
Interlinks are one of the important factors that can help you get the high ranking you want. Plus, you have full control over it. Here are some of the narrowed down internal linking strategies you can use:
- Keep important content as close to your homepage
Homepage of any website is definitely the strongest link on the site. It’s almost always the Homepage that gets ranking on the SERPs. Here is an example:
Why this happens? Here two reasons for it:
- Most back-links usually point to homepages, which is higher than any page on your site.
- Most of the pages on the website link back to the Homepage, making it the default page link for the website.
The closer you put your content to the Homepage, the more authority it will receive.
- Orphan page
What is orphan page?
Well, when a page doesn’t have any-links then it’s called as orphan page. The PageRank goes throughout the site using the internal and external links. It is important that a page is linked to and from one or more pages to get the best PageRanks.
One of the ways of finding the orphan pages is finding all the web pages on your website. You can extract the pages from your sitemaps. You can crawl your website using the Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool and export the report.
Now, you can compare the reports to find the URLs that were not covered by the crawl. Those links will be your orphan pages. Fix them by interlinking to them or simply removing them from the list if they are not important.
How to Do External Linking
Linking your page to external sites will only help you improve the ranking. External sources links of high ranking websites can help you boost your own ranking. Plus, you visitors will also associate you with the resource for high quality content.
But, sharing more links on the page can have negative effect. The more links you have in your page, lesser will be the value of each link. That’s how it works most of the time. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share the links. Google will not appreciate it as it looks manipulative and suspicious.
The existence of external links is itself a proof that you should use it and it has some value. Only make sure it is of high quality and relevant to the visitors.
Here are some of the ways you can sue external linking on your site:
- Don’t “nofollow” external links unnecessarily
The “nofollow” attribute shouldn’t be used all the time.
Here is what Google said about it:
“In general, we don’t follow them. This means that Google does not transfer PageRank or anchor text across these links.”
Some of the top ranking and popular websites, such as Forbes and HuffPosts have a “nofollow” rule for all the external links on theire website. They have good reasons to do so. Most of the writers were secretly selling links and that hampered the image of those sites. They wanted to be true to their readers.
That does not mean everyone has to do it. External links are crucial for PageRank and you should not sacrifice it. You can ensure the quality and reliability of the external links in a few ways, such as:
- Use “nofollow” attribute to links that originate from questionable pages
- Use “nofollow” for links that come from a “sponsored post:”
- Repair the broken external links
Broken links can be a deal breakers for your readers or users. Here is an example of broken link:
You already know that every external link on your page has PageRank value. Now, if the link is broken, it is of no use to you and your readers. The broken links can reduce the value of rest of the links on the page.
Here is how you can fix your broken external links:
- Find all the external links first on your website. Use the site explorer to find the broken links in your website: Site Explorer -> yourdomain.com -> Outgoing links -> Broken links.
- Replace the broken links with fresh ones or simply remove it.
How to Boost Ranking with Backlinks
Back-links are essential for PageRank. But, not all the backlinks are relevant to Google, which looks at various factors to determine the actual value of the links. So, how can you ensure that your backlinks are counted for?
Here are some of the ways you can benefits from your backlinks:
- Build links from high‐UR pages
Since, PageRank flwos from pages to pages, a low-authority website can benefit from the link from high-authority website.
- Fix broken pages that waste “link juice”
Backlinks are precious thing that boost authority of the page as well as internally-linked pages on the site as well. Broken page links are hindrance to the Pagerank since the flow stops. Therefore, it is essential that you fix the broken links.
While most of the SEOs may think that Google PageRanks isn’t relevant anymore, it’s just the opposite. It is still one of the best SEO practices that helps authentic website get the ranking it deserves.
Without obsessing about the PageRank, you can work on quality building links, pay attention to the internal links structure and include external links. This way you can optimize the website for PageRank and have a win-win situation.