How PageRank and Links Affect SEO Rankings

What is Page Rank?

400px-PageRanks-Example.svgPage Rank is a search engine algorithm patented by Google that ranks sites based the number of backlinks pointing to a specific webpage.

Page Rank uses a link equity model, which calculates the number of links to and from a webpage itself, in order to measure its authority and relevance to the user.

The original preposition was that each backlink counts as a “vote” for that webpage, so that if a webpage has lots of backlinks then it will be a more authoritative and relevant source for the user.

According to Google’s CEO and co-founder Larry Page:

Page Rank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites.


Although Page Rank is still an important part of Google’s search engine algorithm, over the years Google has added 100s of additional signals in their core algorithm, making Page Rank less important then it used to be.

The History of Page Rank

Page Rank was first created in 1996 by the co-founders of Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page (whom it was named after) during their time at Standford University.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page used Page Rank in order to develop a new search engine that relied on links to help structure the hierarchy and importance of webpages. For example, a webpage with more link popularity would have a higher ranking in the search engine results page.

Google owns patents for Page Rank for both the name and process (U.S. Patent 6,285,999).

Over time, Google has added additional signals and algorithm to the search engine process that complement the original Page Rank algorithm. In fact, they make 100s of changes to the search engine algorithm every year. For example, in 2012 Google launched a new algorithm called “Panda”, which helped to detect and promote higher quality content on the Internet.

How Google’s Page Rank Algorithm Works in Practice:

google_pagerank_explained_500wThe process begins with Google sending an automated web spider called a “Google Bot” to crawl the entire web and count links to every webpage.

Google then downloads all of this information to their massive server farms, processes the information in their computers, and then uses search engine algorithms to rank webpages in their search engine index.

Rather then just counting the number of backlinks directly to each webpage, Page Rank also uses a link equity formula of how links pass value.

For example, if a webpage has X amount of backlinks but then links out on the page itself then the link equity of that page will be diluted through the external links. This is because Page Rank or link flow is passed through each link.

Multiple links from different domains are also worth more than the same number of links from a single domain. This is because Google uses a dampening factor for links from the same domain.

A good internal linking architecture on a website ensures that the Page Rank flow is distributed even across your site to help rank individual pages.

What is the Difference Between Page Rank and Toolbar Page Rank?

seobook-toolbar-pagerankOne of the main confusions about Page Rank is the difference between Page Rank, as measured by Google in assessing the link popularity of your webpage, and then the Toolbar Page Rank.

Page Rank, as used in Google’s algorithms, is a value that measures the link popularity and equity of your webpage in real time. It is impossible to know the actual value of your Page Rank link equity according to Google (although you can use other tools such as that show relative Domain and Page Authority).

Toolbar Page Rank, on the other hand, is a toolbar you can install on your browser that is thought to display a snapshot of your Page Rank (the number of links to your site) from the last Toolbar Page Rank update. Generally, Google only updates the Toolbar Page Rank 2-3 times per year. Google is particularly reticent about how the Toolbar Page Rank is calculated.

How to Check your Toolbar Page Rank:

You can use the following websites or browser extensions to monitor to Toolbar Page Rank of a site:

Although Toolbar Page Rank helps users to see the authority of a webpage, it doesn’t necessarily correlate with search engine rankings.

Useful Videos about Toolbar Page Rank:

Google Explains Why the Don’t Turn Toolbar Page Rank Off:

Google Explains How Page Rank Toolbar is Updated:

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