The Custard Blog

Words of wisdom from our team of online marketing experts

What Is PageRank?

Our link building monkeys constantly receive link opportunities from bloggers advertising their “PR6 site” – but what is PageRank, and is it really the best way of assessing the value of a website?

PageRank – The Facts

While PageRank is by no means the only metric we look at when assessing link opportunities, clients still like to see it reflected in reports. So here’s a breakdown of what PageRank is, and is not.

Toolbar PageRank

This is the pagerank of a site as displayed in Google’s toolbar. Once considered the be-all-and-end-all, it has been gradually losing it’s grip on the SEO world for some time now.

  • Updated at random intervals, not every three months as often reported
  • Measured on a log scale, so a PR7 is not 1 unit better than a PR6, it’s actually being shown to be 8 times as important as a PR6.

EDIT: Google have recently confirmed that they have no plans to update toolbar PageRank in the future. It seems that PageRank may officially be a dead metric.

REAL PageRank

This is not reflected in the toolbar, but is used internally by Google. The two are not correlated, so toolbar PageRank should never be used as the sole measure of a page’s quality and certainly shouldn’t be assumed to represent Google’s view of a web page.

  • Doesn’t reflect toolbar pagerank at all
  • Very small part of the algorithm
  • Used in part by Google to let them know which pages are important & which to crawl more often (along with other metrics)
  • Updated multiple times daily
  • Scaled from 0 to 1, so could be 0.572946294 for example

Pagerank IS:

  • Useful as a raw indicator of link popularity (purely based on NUMBER of links)
  • Used by Google to penalise link buying/selling (in mild cases). Check out SEOMoz’s historical pagerank checker – shows what the pagerank used to be. If it has dropped, the site may have a penalty. EDIT: Moz have now removed their tool, further indicating that toolbar PageRank is regarded as a thing of the past.

Pagerank is NOT:

  • A reflection of the relevance or quality of links coming into a page – also doesn’t reflect anchor text used or whether a page has been flagged for spam!
  • A static reflection of a page’s quality – went from a 10 to a 9 as sites like Facebook continued to gain links, would you not want a link from that page as a result?
  • An indicator of why a site is ranking above another site
  • AN INDICATOR OF THE VALUE OF A LINK PROSPECT (even the BBC has PR0/1 pages, who wouldn’t want that link?)
  • An indicator of performance – an good SEO campaign isn’t rewarded with higher PageRank.

One last note…

There is no such thing as a PR5 domain – PageRank refers to PAGES only, not domains! If your homepage is PR5, that doesn’t make your domain PR5, PR4 or anything else.


I hope that clears a few things up. This post relies heavily on the fantastic advice given by SEOMoz so why not check out Rand Fishkin’s excellent ‘whiteboard Friday’ video all about PageRank.

For details of how our team DO assess the value of a link, or to talk to us about our link building services, simply get in touch via our contact form today.


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