Google PageRank Update Analysis - July 2005
of you not yet aware, Google is currently updating the PageRank they
are displaying in their toolbar. Each update causes a stir among the
SEO community and webmasters trying to get their websites to the top
of the Google Rankings.
What Is PageRank?
Without getting into too much detail, PageRank is essentially a score
out of ten as to the "value" of your site in comparison to
other websites on the Internet. It is based on two primary factors;
the number of links you have pointing to your website and the value
of the links pointing to your website. The value is calculated based
on the PageRank of the page linking to you and debatably the relevancy
of the page linking to you (there is no hard evidence to back up the
relevancy factor in regards to PageRank that I have seen however it
definitely is a factor in your overall ranking).
If you are
interested in more information on PageRank you would do well to visit
the many forums and articles on the topic and also visit Google's own
description on their website at www.google.com/technology/ where
they give a brief description of the technology.
The most current PageRank update will undoubtedly cause a larger stir
than usual in that many sites have shown drops in their visible PageRank
while at the same time showing significant increases in their backlinks.
This fact reveals that one of three things has occurred in this latest update:
has raised the bar on PageRank, making it more difficult to attain
a high level, or..
- The way
they are displaying their backlinks has changed, or..
- The way
they calculate the value of an incoming link has
Any of these
are possible and has been noted in the past as something they are
willing to do. Additionally, it is possible for all to occur at the same
As we don't
like to use client's as examples I will use the Beanstalk site, backlink
counts, and PageRank changes as the meter by which the following conclusions
are drawnb however this information was attained through looking at
a number of client websites and their competitors.
Google Raising The Bar To Lower Yours
In the past few PageRank updates it has become quite apparent that Google
is continuously raising the bar on PageRank. In their defense, with
all of the reciprocal link building, link renting, etc. going on
this was a natural reaction to the growing number high PageRank sites
that attained those ranks simply by building or buying hundreds and
thousands of links.
no doubt that this is a factor in the changes in this current update.
If your site has maintained it's PageRank, and the PageRanks of your
second-level pages then you have done well in holding steady and if your
competitors have not been as diligent their positions will slip.
New Backlink Calculations
I mention this one only to bring to light that it is a possibility for
your future consideration during other updates. The Beanstalk website
went from 750 shown backlinks on Google to 864. it should be noted
that Google does not show all backlinks (if you want a more accurate
backlink count go to Yahoo! and enter "link:http://www.yourdomain.com" (don't
forget the http://)).
Beanstalk site showed 750 backlinks on Google we were showing around
12,000 on Yahoo! (about 6.5% showing on Google). The Beanstalk site is
now showing 864 on Google and 15,500 on Yahoo! (about 5.6%). If
anything then, Google is showing less links than before which negates
the possibility that a website's PageRank is dropping due to a decrease
in links but being hidden by an increased number being displayed.
while which backlinks Google chooses to display has certainly changed
over time it does not appear to be a major factor in this update. If
you see an increase in your sites backlink counts during this update you
undoubtedly have an increased number of links.
The Value Of Links
Separate from the number of links you have is their value. This appears
to be an area of significant change in this update. Areas that appear
to have reduced value in regards to affecting PageRank are:
links from the same site or run-of-site links
Intelligent and relevant reciprocal links do not seem to have been penalized,
probably due to the increased relevancy factor. If you reduce the value
of irrelevant links and raise the value of relevant ones then there is
no need to penalize reciprocal links as, done incorrectly, they will penalize
- Links with
text around them that indicate they are purchased such as "
Partners", "Advertising", etc.
Google has and is actively trying to reduce the value of paid links. This
appears to have been moderately successful where there is clear indication that
the link is paid for.
- Links from
sites that hold little relevancy (this factor is based on educated
speculation) The relevancy factor appears to have become more important.
Links from sites with content related to yours is showing positive
results while sites with larger numbers of less relevant links are
showing drops in PageRank.
For those of you who have been proactive in your link building, and focused
on relevant sites using the Google Directory, searches or a tool like
the course". Those of you who have been building
or buying links based only on PageRank with little concern for it's
location, or how it is presented - you will need to adjust your link
building efforts accordingly.
What Do I Do - My PageRank Dropped ?!!?
The first thing not to do is panic. Take a deep breath, PageRank is one
factor of dozens that Google uses to determine the ranking of your
page, it is not the only thing. Now, visit your main competitors
sites - there's a good chance you'll see that they too dropped in
PageRank. The plus
side to these kinds of updates is that they're universal. It's not
as if Google has it in for you specifically and so when they do an
update, the positive and negative impact is felt by all.
you've noticed that everyone around you has stayed the same or increased
in PageRank try to remember this, there's nothing you can do about
where you're currently positioned in regards to PageRank and it will
probably be another 3 months before Google updates the public PageRank
again so ... start building some good quality (high relevancy, solid PageRank)
links, work towards and increase in the next update.
Panicking now won't help, intelligent reaction will.
What Happens Now?
Traditionally the search engine results will begin to fluctuate based
on the new visible PageRank 3 to 7 days after they are visible. This
does not have to be the case as Google's had these numbers all along
but it's worked this way in the majority of cases in recent history.
So monitor your search engine positions over the next week or two
and watch for
changes. Try to hold back on making major changes to your site during
this time as often the final positions will differ from those that can
be viewed during the shuffling. In a couple weeks time evaluate where
you stand and tweak your site as necessary but don't spend too much time
that ... you have a solid link building effort to undertake.
Davies is the CEO of Beanstalk
Search Engine Positioning. He
has been optimizing and ranking websites for over four years
and has a solid history of success. Beanstalk is happy to offer
guaranteed SEO services to its clients. To keep informed as more
information in regards to this PageRank update unfolds and other
SEO news you may also want to visit Beanstalk's SEO blog.