Is PageRank Based Only on The Number of Backlinks?

Daniel Scocco

questions and answersThis post is part of the weekly Q&A section. Just use the contact form if you want to submit a question.

Whibbly asks:

Does PageRank only depend on number of inbound links ?

The first thing that you need to keep in mind is that there are two PageRanks. The nominal one, which is the one that shows on your Google toolbar, and which gets updated once every three months or so, and the real one, which gets updated constantly and is used inside Googles search algorithm.

The first one is used just to provide an indication for webmasters, while the second will have a direct influence on your search rankings.

Now back to your question, does PageRank only depend on the number of inbound links, also called backlinks?

The answer is no.

The number of backlinks certainly plays a role, but Google also evaluates carefully the quality and relevancy of those links.

By quality I mean the overall trust that the site that linked to you has. A link from the Stanford university would have more quality than one from your sister’s blog. Another way to call quality is authority.

By relevancy I mean the proximity of the content on the website that is linking to you, to your own content. If you have a blog about cats, a link from your sister’s blog that talks exclusively about cats too would be more relevant than a link from the Quantum Physics department of the Stanford university (unless they were talking about Schrödinger’s Cat, but that is a joke only physics lovers will get…).

Let’s consider a example to understand this better. Suppose you just launched two blogs, A and B. Both blogs talk about technology. On the first blog you decide to purchase 30 backlinks from very small and unrelated sites (most of which don’t even have PageRank to begin with). On the second blog, on the other hand, you just publish one quality article, and that article gets linked from the homepage of TechCrunch.

If you wait three months and don’t change anything else on the blogs, it is very likely that the the first one would end up with no PageRank at all, while the second one would probably end up with a PR1.

Some other interesting facts about PageRank:

  • many people think that PageRank uses a logarithic scale, meaning that increasing your PR gets tougher as you go (i.e. moving from PR5 to PR6 is more difficult than moving from PR2 to PR3)
  • real PageRank is not counted from 0 to 10, this is just a scale used for the nominal one
  • PageRank is only one of the factors used in Google’s search algorithm, so a high PR does not equate to high search rankings automatically
  • Your internal and external links can affect your PageRank
  • Content and update frequency have no impact on PageRank
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49 Responses to “Is PageRank Based Only on The Number of Backlinks?”

  • Irfan

    Thanks for the clear information.
    I understand now.
    and how about Alexa Rank? What is the difference between Alexa rank anda Google Pagerank?

    Thank You,

    Irfan

  • Bill

    You can find more detail on this topic at this blog:

  • Dean Holland

    Aloha !!

    Thanks for this great information. It has answered a lot of questions for me with page rank,. I have started my first ever blog about 10 weeks ago and am still stuck with a page rank 1 !

    My traffic has built nicely and I feel I am doing well, do you think I should have focus on the page rank or will it just happen naturally ??

    Would appreciate your advie

    Thankyou

    Dean

  • Imran

    Daniel,
    “many people think that PageRank uses a logarithic scale, meaning that increasing your PR gets tougher as you go (i.e. moving from PR5 to PR6 is more difficult than moving from PR2 to PR3)”

    i would appreciate if you could expand more on this aspect of pr.
    specially elements required to go from pr5 to pr6 and from pr6 to pr7.
    you definitely have hand-on experience with going to pr5 to pr6. you can potentially describe your current journey going to pr7.

  • Whibbly

    Thanks Daniel for answering my question ! This is very helpful.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Bill, yes the PR is one of the factors that get analyzed where determining the search results.

  • Bill Masson (WWAH)

    @Daniel Scocco, I stand corrected, thanks for explaining, so there are two main measures that Google use, this PR measure only takes into account the trust but is the more important of the two.

    So the two must be interlinked, the PR feeding into the Search Rank giving the search rank indicator which we all see at the top of our browsers.

    Yes , No ?

  • Goldie

    That’s a great explanation and I’m sure you have provided enourmous help for many people, including me. Thanks!

  • Melvin

    Now it makes more sense to me.. Thanks

  • Jen

    Thanks for the clarification. Up until last week I had no idea there were two page ranks and when the updated page rank came out I was pretty confused. Appreciate the information.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Bill Masson, you are confusing search rank with PageRank. The search rankings, that are used to determine the search results, will for sure take into consideration the update frequency, quality and uniqueness of the content. The PageRank algorithm, however, does not use it, as its objective is merely to evaluate the “trust” of a single page.

    @Mike, bad links won’t affect your PR negatively. Else it would be too easy to damage a competitor.

  • Donny Gamble

    Thanks for giving clarity on how pagerank is decided. A lot of people need to know the criteria so they can eventually receive a higher pr.

  • gendut

    back link very important to give great effect on our web……but good quality back link, the problems is very difficult getting quality back link natural….. the same topic, with anchor tex, natural and from high page rank……

  • Bill Masson (WWAH)

    “Content and update frequency have no impact on PageRank”
    Come again? surely this has a determining factor along with unique content to mesure your PR.

    Destination Infinity:inptu you search phrase or word to check the compition or grab the FF extension SEOBook.com Rank Checker
    FF has loads of SEO tools

  • Mike

    If the quality of the sites linking to you is bad, does that effect you negatively or does it just not add any value to your site?

    Great article!

  • Elite Blogger

    Nice explanation, thanks.

  • Ana

    The quality of the back links is what gives you a good rank. Good content and how many visitors and returned ones visit your site a day will also have a lot to do with page rank. A person with a thousand backlinks can rank way less than a person with maybe 300 backlinks to there site. Why because of the trash links that the other blog has as backlink to his or her site. Good and quality keywords on your site will also be a good example of ranking well. If you get your site notice by google then you can consider your self in the game. A site that does not get notice by the search engines is a dust collecting link. Nobody will even know you are there. My site does not have hundreds of links back and I went from a pr0 to a pr4 in 44 days on my new Blog. Page rank 4 may not be the greatest rank, but It’s a great accomplish for a bran new blog in just a short a mouth of time. I visited others Blogs that are well establish and there rank went down or they did not got more then a 2 or 3 rank. Some others did not even ranked at all.
    This may be to many an opinion, but the ways I use and to implement things to my new site is a proven fact of how getting ranked works and how to play it safe with google.

  • Ben Moreno

    Thanks for clarifying that Daniel.

    I have pretty much stopepd caring about SEO at this point and am putting my 100% attention on readership. It is much more rewarding interacting with people and learning from them.

    Quality content + high readership = lots of links in my opinion. I think the SEO will come naturally.

  • Destination Infinity

    That’s an informative post. What about other search engines, do they have their own PR’s too like Google, or is there any other mechanism they would use?

    When there is a search term that people use to reach my website and the same is available on the blog stats page for me to see, then do they essentially come from Google or some other search engines too. Is there a way to know this?

    Destination Infinity

  • Blog Expert

    I have come to the conclusion that pagerank has many different factors. I think everyone realizes that by now. Exactly what goes into their formula is not known but doing just basic Blog activities every day should help you with your pagerank.

  • Enduring Wanderlust

    Thanks for the break down. It certainly makes sense an incoming links from a reputable website would hold more weight in the rankings. I’d like to think that it’s not just based on the popularity of that blog though. There are blogs that are important to a specific niche that may not receive heavy traffic.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Julie and Firas, only Google has access to the real PageRank.

  • Make Money Online with a 17 year old kid

    Hello Daniel,
    You have proved it again. You know what, I have been searching for such a post, exactly like this one for the last few months. This is the ideal post about PageRank I had been searching for.
    Frankly speaking, I had always known 100% of the information above but I was searching for such a post to confirm that other people too think the same.
    Great post again Daniel.

    Regards
    Laksh

  • Rajasekharan

    Since we discuss about PageRank here, I have a question for you about supplemental index:

    You used to say to show excerpts everywhere (especially home page) except the single post. Interestingly, I notice the blog front pages of ProBlogger and John Chow are showing full posts, may be John is daring but with ProBlogger he hasn’t inserted even any robots commands, and even his meta description seems to be the same almost everywhere. Are they not prone to supplemental index or is supplemental index not a factor of concern for SEO nowadays? What are your views?

  • Firas Steitiyeh

    That is 100% true since my blog was less than 1 month old when it got its first promotion of PR1 within the last Google PR update.

    But i have a question, is there anyway to measure or to get indications about the ACTUAL Google PageRank?

    Thanks,
    Firas

  • Hendry Lee

    I begin to like Q&A format better than list… 🙂

    The scale of PR is indeed logarithmic. If it takes 10 PR1 links to get from PR0 to PR1, it takes many more to get from PR1 to PR2.

    PR is overrated, but still it is nice to have a measurement for what Google think about the authority of a page and crawability. If a page has less than a certain PR threshold, it may be dropped by Google or not indexed at all.

  • Julie Strietelmeier

    Are there tools available to see both pagerank numbers?

  • Ikki at Blogging Blog

    @Derrick Siu: Google’s PageRank isn’t related to Alexa’s Rank. They work as two separate ranking systems.

    As Daniel said, Google ranks a site according to the amount and quality of backlinks that a site has. Alexa, on the other hand, ranks sites according to their traffic stats.

  • Scott Williams

    Didn’t really know exactly how it all worked… this makes sense.

    I wish I was as smart as Google! 😉

  • Derrick Siu

    Thanks for explaining this pagerank thing. . just wondering what correlation there is to Alexa’s page ranking?

    For me the main takeaway is if you are actually creating quality content, and making relevant and meaningful connections with other websites, you’ll do well, as opposed to using the latest tactic or strategy to get heaps of backlinks 🙂

    Thanks!

    Derrick
    Blogging Newbie

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