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PageRank (PR) is a quality metric invented by Google's owners Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The values 0 to 10 determine a page's importance, reliability and authority on the web according to Google. This metric does not, however, directly affect a website's search engine ranking. A website with a PR 2 could be found on the first page of search results while a website with a PR 6 for the same keyword may appear on the second page of search results.

PageRank Flashback:

  • Google used to use the PR of a site to determine its position in search results.
  • It was one of the major ranking factors for a website.
  • Obtaining links from pages with a higher PR were seen as a way to earn higher PR yourself.
  • It was easy to manipulate the PR of a web page by earning paid links from high PR sites.

PageRank in 2013:

  • PageRank is now one of 200 ranking factors that Google uses to determine a page's popularity.
  • It is no longer a determining factor for a web page's search rankings in Google, however, your site's position in the SERPs can be affected indirectly by the PR of the pages linking to you.
  • Links with higher PR are still important to improve a page's authority, but the links must be relevant. A link from a website with PR 10, but an unrelated topic, does not enhance your website's position in the SERPs.
  • Earning high PR links in an unnatural way can risk penalty and loss of your own PR.

Webmasters all over the world know what a Google PageRank is because it has been around since the beginning of SEO, but even some experts are unsure whether a high PR is effective or not for SEO today. This article will clarify some myths about PR and suggest some facts in favor of working toward a high PR for a site.

First you must know that PR is a logarithmic calculation of various factors that point toward your site, showing its reliability and relevance. The difference between a PR 4 and a PR 5 is five to ten times more than the difference between a PR 2 and PR 3. You are likely to find 100 times more pages with a PR 2 than with a PR 4 on the web. If your home page has a PR 6 you are among the top 0.1% of websites, which is a great achievement.

You can learn more about the calculation initially invented to determine a page's PR in an article on WebWorkShop.net by Phil Craven. If you are more interested in the logical and practical than the technical aspects of PR, read on.

Some experts think that PR is an ineffective ranking factor for the following reasons:

  • The calculation of a PR is inaccurate and biased in some cases. The simple example to illustrate this is that pages such as Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo are as popular as Google, however, their PR ranges from 8 to 9 while Google's PR is 10.
  • If you check the PR of websites in the first page of Google search results you will find many sites with lower PR's on the top and sites with higher PR's toward the bottom. This may be in part due to the Caffeine update released by Google, which resulted in fresh, unranked content being able to feature in the top of search results.
  • Under the latest Google updates (Panda and Penguin), newer search algorithms using social signals, user generated content and fresh content are dominating the ranking signals, leaving PR as less important.
  • Google removed PR from its Webmaster Tools some years ago.

The reasons why PR is still relevant are as follows:

  • PageRank is still one of the 200-odd ranking signals Google uses.
  • If two websites have very similar quality content, on-page SEO, and in/outbound links – but different PR's – the site with a higher PR will appear higher in search results. This is a good example of PR giving you an edge over your competitors.
  • Although fresh content (with no PageRank) can rank high since Google released the Caffeine (Freshness) update, after a period of time this content will fall in search position and be replaced by content that has links from high PR sites. See a tech blogger's case study about this on Minterest.com.
  • High PR backlinks still matter if they are relevant and natural.
  • Guest bloggers usually prefer writing for sites with a high PR.
  • Once you get a high PR, people will want to link to you more often. Earning more popularity on the web will increase your search engine ranking so that you appear at the top of the SERPs for your target keywords. In this way PR can indirectly affect search ranking.

Your primary reason to increase your PR, however, is to be viewed as an authority in the industry and not to earn a higher search ranking. There are no easy routes to earn a high PR. A blend of quality link building strategies, great on-page SEO, user-generated and updated content (blog and blog comments), a good internal linking structure, earning links for your inside pages, enhanced site speed, high conversion rates, good usability and a prominent social media presence collectively contribute to improving your PageRank. The major criterion to get a high PR is to earn links from other sites. As the popularity of your site increases on the web, search engine crawlers see inbound links pointing to your site as votes of recommendation for your content.

Things That Can Lead to a Loss of PR:

When you link to another site you do not lose your PR, as some people think. It is only counted as a vote. When you add new pages to your site there is a dilution in your PR to a small extent, however, if you build links to your inside pages and improve their PR, your home page PR is also enhanced over time. A site might lose PR if a site with a high PR removes their links pointing to your site. Prohibited activity, such as hidden text links, paid and irrelevant links, cloaking, site-wide linking and automated link exchanges can reduce your site's PR as well.

Tools To Detect the PR of a Page:

Install the PageRank toolbar for Chrome or PageRank add-on for Firefox, to instantly check the PR of a page.

PR 6 Detected on WooRank.com via PageRank Toolbar for Chrome

PR 6 Detected on WooRank.com via PageRank Toolbar for Chrome

Remember, when building links to your site, PageRank must be a secondary factor to the relevancy and quality of the content. So, if you get the opportunity to earn a link from a PR 2 site with relevant content and a PR 8 site with unrelated content, it is preferable to opt for the first but not the second.