What is the PageRank

When PageRank is an algorithm of Google. This algorithm analyzes and weights the link structure of a website. The basic principle: The more high-quality links refer to a website, the higher the PageRank of this page. And the higher the PageRank, the more important the website is. However, the PageRank does not make any statement about the quality of the content of a website.

Origin of name

The term “PageRank” does not refer to the rank that a website has in the search results, but goes back to one of the developers of the algorithm – Larry Page. Together with Sergey Brin, he developed the Method for node ranking in a linked database at Stanford University in 1997, for which a patent has been applied for – the first steps in the creation of Google, which was founded by Brin and Page. The PageRank was, so to speak, the basis for the Google search and at the same time the decisive factor for the success of the search engine.

How PageRank works

Each page receives a PageRank value between 0 and 10, whereby it becomes more and more difficult to reach the next level upwards. With a PageRank of 0, either pages that are still new on the Internet or pages that have been downgraded by Google due to violations are rated.

According to LAWFAQS, the PageRank is based on the principle of link popularity, in which the number of incoming linksis the main criterion for assessing the relevance of a page. In contrast to link popularity, PageRank does not simply use the number of links, i.e. it does not simply rate a page better just because it has more inbound links than another page. He also goes into the value / importance of the linked pages. This means, for example, that three external links on a page can be more helpful than 20 external links – if these three links come from higher-quality pages, which in turn have achieved this status themselves through high-quality links. The more important the linked pages are, the higher the rank of the page to which these links point.

The PageRank algorithm ultimately evaluates all documents in the network according to their links or the importance of their links.

The formula for this is:

PR (A) = (1-d) + d (PR (T1) / C (T1) +… + PR (Tn) / C (Tn))


PR (A): PageRank of a page A

PR (Ti): PageRank of the pages Ti, of which a link points to page A.

C (Ti): Number of links on page Ti

d: damping factor – 0 <= d <= 1

Random Surfer and Reasonable Surfer Model

According to the developers of PageRank Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the calculation is based on the behavior of a random Internet surfer – the random server. This begins its way on any page in the network and is linked to other pages. However, this does not happen indefinitely, because at some point it is enough for the random user and he breaks off the path – this is taken into account via the damping factor d. The probability that the surfer will reach another page via a link depends on the number of links on the page. This probability is roughly comparable to the PageRank of the site.

Nowadays, however, this random model is considered obsolete because the user no longer clicks on links at random, but many other factors influence his behavior. It is therefore not a random server, but a reasonable server. In the Reasonable Server model, the relevance of the content of the link and its position on the page play a role. For example, the user is more likely to click on a link if it is thematically related to the page he is currently on and if the link is in the text instead of in the footer or in the sidebar.

Public vs. internal PageRank

Google distinguishes between external / public and internal when it comes to PageRank. According to the company, the internal PageRank, which is only visible to Google, is updated regularly, while the public PageRank is or was updated only rarely and at very different intervals.

Rand Fishkin from MOZ gave a good explanation on Whiteboard Friday:

Source: What is Google’s PageRank good for? – Whiteboard Friday

Show PageRank

In 2000, Google first published the PageRank values ​​using a toolbar for Internet Explorer. There, this website’s quality rating was not only displayed as a scale from 1 to 10, but also graphically with a colored bar, green for a high, red for a low PageRank. However, the PageRank toolbar no longer exists since April 2016. There is no longer any possibility of displaying the PageRank publicly. According to Google, the PageRank is still used internally to evaluate search results.

Pagerank update

The last Toolbar PageRank update was from December 2013. About a year later, John Mueller said that no further update was carried out after this update and that the toolbar will probably not be updated in the future:

As already described in the previous paragraph, this has also been confirmed. This means that Google will officially no longer publish updates on PageRank.

Relevance of PageRank for SEO

Google itself emphasizes that PageRank only plays a very small role in ranking nowadays. While this algorithm was the basis for search results at the beginning, there are now many other factors that influence the ranking of a website and are much more relevant with regard to the user experience.

The fact that PageRank has lost a lot of its importance is certainly also due to the numerous manipulative methods used to influence it. With the introduction, a lively link buying and swapping business developed at the same time, in which the PageRank acted like a kind of currency. However, one cannot say that PageRank has been abolished either. It is only no longer relevant for today’s SEO measures, as there is no current data on it anyway.

What is the PageRank