What is PageRank?
PageRank (PR) is an algorithm used by Google Search to rank web pages in their search engine results. PageRank is a way of measuring the importance of website pages.
PageRank works by counting the quantity 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.
Currently, PageRank is not the only algorithm used by Google to order search results, but it is the first algorithm that was used by the company, and it is the best known.
PageRank — a System for Ranking Web Pages:
PageRank is a system for ranking web pages that Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed at Stanford University. And what it is important to understand is that PageRank is all about links.
The higher the PageRank of a link, the more authoritative it is. We can simplify the PageRank algorithm to describe it as a way for the importance of a webpage to be measured by analyzing the quantity and quality of the links that point to it.
The PageRank Score:
A PageRank score of 0 is typically a low-quality website, whereas, on the other hand, a score of 10 would represent only the most authoritative sites on the web.
Factors that influence PageRank:
1. Anchor text: Google’s original paper referred to link anchor text by stating that, “The text of links is treated in a special way in our search engine” and that, “anchors often provide more accurate descriptions of web pages than the pages themselves.”
2. The likelihood of being clicked: The likelihood of a link being clicked is a key influencer of PageRank and is referenced by Google’s reasonable surfer patent. The original PageRank algorithm assigned an equal weight to links on a page. Whereas, 2004’s Reasonable Surfer patent indicates that not all links are as likely as one another to be clicked; therefore, giving a different value to different links, depending upon their potential to be clicked.
3. Internal links: Internal linking is a powerful SEO tactic, and there is a good reason why. PageRank flows through site with a solid internal linking structure.
4. Nofollow links: NoFollow links prevent the flow of PageRank. In 2009, however, Google’s Matt Cutts confirmed that this would no longer work and that PageRank would be distributed across links even if a NoFollow attribute was present (but only pass through the followed link).
Why did Google retire the PageRank toolbar?
SEOs became obsessed with PageRank, and it quickly became the most focused on SEO tactic, even above creating great content and a solid user experience.
The problem was that by publicly sharing a PageRank Score, this became easier for SEOs to manipulate, alongside influencing factors such as anchor text, nofollow, and the reasonable surfer model.
SEOs knew how they could use PageRank to rank their websites higher, and they took advantage of this.
If we look at this from Google’s perspective, the public-facing PageRank toolbar was the problem. Without this, there was no accurate measure of a web page’s authority (at least officially).
Ultimately, SEOs abused PageRank and used it to manipulate rankings, leaving Google with no real choice other than to retire the toolbar, which happened in 2016.