What is My PageRank?

Google’s PageRank can play a role in how your website ranks for keywords in Google, so it makes sense to want to know what your site’s PageRank is.  However, if the word “PageRank” is a little fuzzy to you, let’s try to clear that up a bit.

PageRank Doesn’t Mean Keyword Rankings

Even though it has the word “rank” in it, the term “PageRank” does not mean where your keywords come up in the organic search rankings.  A web page’s PageRank is an assigned value from 0-10 that is determined mostly by the number of websites that link back to yours, and the quality of these sites.  According to Google,

“PageRank reflects our view of the importance of web pages by considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Pages that we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top of the search results.  PageRank also considers the importance of each page that casts a vote, as votes from some pages are considered to have greater value, thus giving the linked page greater value. We have always taken a pragmatic approach to help improve search quality and create useful products, and our technology uses the collective intelligence of the web to determine a page’s importance.”

PageRank is its own algorithm that’s a component of Google’s overall algorithm (which determines the web pages are most relevant for a search query).  If you want to make your head hurt, you can check out the mathematical formula behind PR.  This formula is Google’s trademark and has been patented.

So…What’s My PageRank?

There are a couple of ways you can check your site’s PageRank. Most SEO browser plugins that you can download for Firefox and Chrome will indicate PageRank.  One I like to use is SeoQuake for FireFox.  It gives you a lot of information about the web page you’re on, including the date that the domain of the website was registered, how many links there are to your website (this is a figure from Yahoo’s Site Explorer), and the last time Google cached the page.  But you don’t even have to download a plugin if you just want to do a quick check.  There are a few websites where you can enter your domain and it will give you the PageRank value. (These are third-party tools that are not affiliated with Hall Web Services.)

It’s important to note that Google publicly updates PageRank extremely infrequently; every few months or so is the typical trend.  The PageRank value you see may be subject to change over the next few months.

How Important is PageRank?

For me, I use PageRank merey as a reference regarding the quality of backlinks that a website has.  A website may only have a few hundred backlinks, but if those links are from sites that have a high PageRank, the website they are linking back to may also have a high PageRank.  A lower PageRank may indicate few backlinks, or many backlinks from less “quality” sites.  Websites that are brand new typically start out with a PageRank of 0.

Still, even if a site has a PageRank of 0, it can still rank at the top for their desired keywords.  A lower PageRank does not always equate to low rankings.  In fact, Google doesn’t want people to be obsessed with PageRank.  Webmasters used to be able to see their sites’ PageRank in Google’s Webmaster Tools accounts but they removed it in October of 2009.  Google Employee Susan Mowska stated, “We’ve been telling people for a long time that they shouldn’t focus on PageRank so much; many site owners seem to think it’s the most important metric for them to track, which is simply not true.”

I agree with Google that PageRank shouldn’t be a metric that you live and die by.  Still, Google does offer some information on how they suggest you get backlinks to your site, which could ultimately increase your PageRank and even help your site get better rankings for more competitive keywords.