What is PageRank Still Being Used For?

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So, PageRank is dead, right? Oh no, it’s definitely alive and well. It’s not being used as a factor to determine a page’s ranking anymore, but it’s certainly not ignored. Let me explain.

Google would never trash PageRank – it’s what made Google great! Before Google, the other search engines simply relied on what you say about yourself to rank you, usually in the form of how many times a given keyword is repeated on a page. Google innovated and started basing rankings not only on what sites said about themselves, but also what others said about the site – or its popularity. This popularity came in the form of links.

A measure of popularity

This measure of popularity was named PageRank, after Larry Page – Google’s cofounder.

What’s calculated in the PageRank metric? It’s the number and quality of links going to a given page. The more, and better, links you have going to a page, the more popular that page is going to be. So, is it that crazy that Google disavowed PageRank as a metric for ranking? No, because the original popularity measures are still being taken into account.

PageRank’s use in content indexation

There is still one awesome use for the PageRank metric, though: page indexation! Take the following example:

Let’s say you have 1000 pages of content on your site and a PR of 0 – brand new. Google knows how much their time is worth, and they aren’t about to waste it on content that will never be important enough to index.  They could easily spend that same time crawling CNN one extra time per day and getting content sooner, so there is some opportunity cost involved. In this case, I could see them indexing just the home page (something I’ve seen Bing do pretty often) or maybe just a level or two.

Now, let’s say your site gets one or two very authoritative links, and now have a PR of 1 or 2. Now, you’re looking more important, and worth the time to crawl your site, and so maybe Google will index 200-500 pages of content. Get more links and attention, and, eventually, Google will take the time to index your whole site.

Higher pagerank means more crawl

Matt Cutts says that “the number of pages we crawl is roughly proportional to your PageRank.” So how do you get more of your content indexed? One way to do it is to make sure you have a sitemap.xml. This provides a listing of the content on your site so Google can choose the content it wants to index. Another way is simply to get more links to your site. Don’t count on the PageRank  toolbar number to tell you what your PR actually is (it’s really a poor judge).  Try linkbait or other types of link building to get more links and PR to your site. The chances are, if you have tons of content, you’re most likely getting links naturally.


Preston Smith

Another great post. I have often wondered the validity of PR. And this explains it very well…