Google PageRank, Simplified: A Guide for SEO Beginners

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There was once a time when there was no SEO metric some-more critical than PageRank.

You could buy it.

You could sell it.

And that was a problem Google combined for themselves when they gave us annoying marketers a immature bar.

Green bar PageRankGreen bar PageRank

It was called toolbar PageRank.

And it pennyless Google.

We’ll get into that a bit serve below.

But first, let’s go behind even further.

The Origins of a Search Engine

In 1996, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, together with some other academics during Stanford who expected bewail not removing some-more heavily concerned with what it became, grown and law a complement that would be copyright as PageRank.

The apparent for a complement was postulated to Stanford, and Brin and Page gave adult shares in Google for disdainful rights to it.

Shares that sole usually 9 years after for over $300 million.

But what done this apparent so valuable?

What was PageRank?

PageRank Revolutionized Search

In simplest terms, PageRank brought links into a ranking equation.

It’s easy to see where a suspicion came from.

You have a organisation of academics sitting around doing research.

They’re following citations in papers and saying that a some-more times a paper is referenced by other papers, a some-more applicable and critical it seems to be.


You have a substructure for link-based hunt algorithms.

I can also entirely know a disappointment they were solving.

I initial attempted to work on a internet in 1994 (about a time a suspicion would have been occurring to a paper’s authors).

I was doing some investigate for a poli sci paper we was essay during a university mechanism lab.

The hunt engine was Yahoo.

And we was miserable.

I remember carrying seen a uncover on discuss bedrooms and attempted to find one where we could get some instruction on where to find what we was looking for reckoning if they were unequivocally renouned they should be easy to find.

I couldn’t even conduct to find that, and about 30 mins we was in a university library.

Broken computerBroken computer

Using hunt engines during a time, we spent substantially about an hour not anticipating what we wanted.

It was faster to travel to a library and duplicate out what we wanted by hand.

It was a good few years before we attempted going online again.

I continued to use computers, usually not a internet. Stuff was usually too tough to find there.

So, Brin and Page combined links to a formula.

This is not to contend that a whole Google algorithm was formed on links, yet this was a initial time links were used by a hunt engine in a suggestive way.

Google rolled out in 1998 and this series constructed a following in marketplace share numbers:

2000 - 2008 hunt marketplace share2000 - 2008 hunt marketplace share

If you’re new to search, there are substantially a few names in that picture that we don’t recognize. You can appreciate Google for that.

PageRank had such a large impact on a peculiarity of hunt formula that, within a camber of a decade, it took Google from a startup to energy 4 out of any 5 queries.

Basically, it took a internet from a section that this author left in disappointment – to one that even a slightest technically proficient people could simply find especially applicable information.

And Then Along Came a SEO Folks

Matt Cutts - can't give SEOs good thingsMatt Cutts - can't give SEOs good things

We’ll get into how PageRank functions shortly, yet initial let’s dive into a folks who pennyless and continue to mangle it.


Well, some of us.

Starting in 2000, Google combined a manifest immature bar to their toolbar.

This immature bar reported a PageRank measure from 0 to 10 for any webpage.

What did this meant during a time?

  • Links became hugely important.
  • Because unequivocally few people were doing SEO, foe was unequivocally low for many terms.
  • Google usually gave us all a metric for measuring a value and intensity impact of a page.
  • Most penalties were manual, so there was a outrageous loiter time between spamming and penalties. But even then, removing a chastisement would have compulsory someone manually stating your site – or an act of extreme irrationality by a site owners (confession entrance below).

It was a ideal charge for spam.

We knew a value of a pages and a value of pages joining to us (and a competitors).

And a whole marketplace non-stop adult shopping and offered links formed on PageRank.

The Aforementioned Confession

Back in this early epoch of SEO, we was an associate marketer.

I was peaceful to bake sites to a belligerent meaningful we had a dozen some-more entrance adult behind it, and substantially a integrate of others occupying additional positions for a queries we unequivocally wanted.

I had a good tiny site compelling healthy health products. It was earning a neat $3,000/month in associate revenue, that combined simply to a other sites we was handling and had a PageRank of 6.

A couple on a PageRank 6 page was value hundreds and a ROS (Run-Of-Site) couple was value (as it turns out) about $500/month.

Which led to:

Dave sells links ... and is punished for itDave sells links ... and is punished for it


An additional $2,000/month!

Except that we got foolish and greedy.

I posted a “opportunity” on a couple auction site (yup, that’s how monetized they got).

The subsequent refurbish my site forsaken to a PageRank 2.

The rankings plummeted.

My ubiquitous site income fell to about $200 and a advertisers left since a links were usually value about $30/month now.

I post this admission of an internet spammer, to prominence a problem with display everybody what their PageRank was.

It was dictated to let searchers know a peculiarity of a site they were on – and let SEO pros know a value of what they were doing from a couple perspective.

This is since we can’t have good things in SEO.

Toolbar PageRank vs. PageRank

We mentioned above that PageRank was scored on a 0 to 10 scale.

This was toolbar PageRank and was an guess of a genuine PageRank.

Internally, I’m certain a numbers were distant some-more formidable than what we were seeing.

But in April 2016, like a final summary sent from a Mars Opportunity rover, their calm ran low, and a toolbars went dark.

This was not a finish of PageRank, usually a use as a commodity.

As Matt Southern wrote at a time:

“Google has strictly close down toolbar PageRank to a ubiquitous public. Meaning, internally Google will still be regulating a data, yet it will no longer be manifest to a public.”

We don’t speak about it many anymore since we can’t see it.

But it’s still there – and it still binds a absolute hold on rankings.

It is what creates a couple absolute and some links some-more absolute than others.

PageRank – What It Is

The initial patents were flattering basic.

They focused especially on volumes of links with tiny importance on position or other factors (probably since we hadn’t started utilizing things yet).

Later patents and updates combined in aspects (e.g., position and trust factors) formed on seed sets (essentially a primer preference of devoted sites that would pass trust downward to sites they related to).

We could call it TrustRank, yet we generally cruise it partial of PageRank.

For some-more on that, I’d suggest a good square by Bill Slawski that you’ll find here.

I privately don’t trust a trust routine is entirely formed on seed sets and expected has nothing during this theatre if it ever did, we do cruise there are processes like it yet they would expected be automated.

How PageRank Moves

PageRank moves from one page to another by inner and outmost links.

Because a scale of 10 is irrelevant now that toolbar PageRank is gone, let’s use a page with a PageRank of 100 as a example.

If that page links to 50 other pages, any page would get 2% of a PageRank.

EXCEPT – On any page, a tiny commission of a PageRank simply evaporates. We will omit this to keep a instance elementary for now, yet it’s an intensely critical partial of a mathematics.

If we suppose PageRank invariably flitting around though this built-in evaporation, any site on a web would proceed gigantic PageRank.

That poses some apparent problems.

Again though, for a example, we’ll simply assume any page gets 2% of a PageRank.

It afterwards would pass on a possess PageRank perceived from that initial couple as good as any other PageRank is perceived from other pages joining to it, either inner or external.

So … the some-more links we put on your page, a reduction PageRank that passes by each. So that tip nav with 300 links competence be diluting weight from a pages we wish it to a most.

This is a simplest square of a equation as it’s sincerely simply tangible by division.

Where it gets foggier is in bargain how inner vs. outmost links are treated.

I tend to perspective them as apart things with opposite PageRank relocating by each.

It doesn’t make clarity to “punish” a site for joining out to a applicable apparatus and it doesn’t make clarity to retaliate calm sites with active comments sections, by sketch links there from a inner flow.

I’ve review a series of breakdowns and many SEOs tumble more-or-less into this stay as well. External links do not impact your inner PageRank passing.

Nofollows do, however.

With few exceptions, nofollowed inner links should be avoided. If we demeanour behind to those 50 links in a instance above and cruise of 3 of them as nofollowed inner links.

The remaining 47 pages will still usually get 2% each, a remaining 6% simply evaporates. This means it doesn’t get to a aim page that means it afterwards can’t pass it along.

So while it’s loyal we competence not wish your remoteness routine to arrange and it substantially won’t… it will pass PageRank by a possess links and is improved followed to do that task, than have all a links to it simply voided with nofollow.

Also, a position on a page impacts a PageRank flow.

Like content, a some-more manifest a couple is, a some-more weight it has.

It’s critical afterwards to safeguard that your pivotal pages have manifest links.

Quick Summary of Impact

I suspicion it competence be useful to have a discerning five-point impact checklist for any of a inner and outmost links. So here we go.

PageRank Impact on Internal Links

  • The some-more links on a page, a some-more diluted a PageRank upheld to each.
  • The some-more links to a page, a some-more PageRank upsurge to it.
  • The some-more simply clicked (i.e., visible) a couple is a some-more PageRank it passes.
  • Nofollow links means PageRank evaporation, not sculpting.
  • Links to other sites do not impact your inner PageRank,

PageRank Impact On External Links

  • Linking to other sites does not definitely or negatively impact your PageRank.
  • External links do not impact your PageRank yet competence impact other algorithmic factors.
  • Links from aloft PageRank sites will send some-more PageRank to a aim page than links from reduce PageRank pages.
  • The PageRank to one page on a website will pass to others by inner links.
  • Like inner links, outmost PageRank divides by a series of links so a couple from a page with fewer outbound links is value some-more than one with many.

PageRank: It’s Complicated

I wish that this outline of PageRank answers a few questions.

It’s a rarely difficult and formidable area and we cruise there isn’t even a singular chairman during Google who could entirely outline how it works during this stage.

Hopefully, a core manners summarized above (and a bit of a history) clears adult some misconceptions and has given we an bargain of PageRank that we can lift with we as we cruise your inner couple structure, how and where we get links, etc.

If you’re in a somewhat technical mood and would like to see how your pages pass PageRank internally (based on a initial patents during least), we rarely suggest perplexing out a routine summarized by Patrick Stox here.

You’ll need Screaming Frog and Gephi, yet it’s utterly interesting. Once you’re informed with a tool, you’ll positively start importing other analytics and link/page metrics into it as well.

Additional Reading

More Resources:

Image Credits

Featured Image: Adobe Stock / Edited by author, Feb 2020
PageRank Image: Search Engine Journal
Broken computer: Adobe Stock
US Search Marketshare: Datahub
Matt Cutts and Broken Watch: Adobe Stock / Edited by author, Feb 2020
Screenshot of links sole for PageRank: Embarrassed author