Clarification of Answer by
26 Mar 2004 05:12 PST
Hi Eamonn ~
PageRank, that is links to your site from other "important" sites is
still relevant and important. And no, I'm not saying it's totally
irrelevant, but because of the fact that they figured how to game the
system, it is no longer as important as it once was.
That 'number' on the Google Toolbar isn't really a true indicator of
what your PageRank is, because it isn't all links, or all content,
etc., but rather a combination of "important" links, "relevant"
content, good design (HTML), and other factors. You'll find people who
swear that whether you beg, buy or steal it, a link from a PR8 is
better than a link from a PR4.
The evidence, though, is showing that unless that PR8 is relevant, it
doesn't do a site much good. If that PR8 is selling wing nuts, and the
other site is selling doll clothes, the PR8 link is irrelevant.
The weights each or any of the factors are given can and do change,
but those sites which maintain a good balance of all the factors find
themselves not fluctuating much from one update to another. Others
experience all sorts of strange phenomena when they're trying to guess
or game the system.
Links *are* important in many ways. If and when they cease to be
important Google will tell you so. And part of the weight given a site
depends on the importance of the link itself. We have seen recently
that a page with thousands of links from nothing but a link page of
other sites (link exchanges, schemes, etc.) become meaningless and in
some cases detrimental to a site.
We have also seen those sites which were affected not lose that number
on the Google Toolbar. You yourself said "Yet I see simple sites with
no external links also with a PR4". This only means that in this
particular go-round whatever they do have on that page is weighted
enough to put them there and gain them that 'number'.
Links to your site are important, but I cannot tell you an exact
number or when/if it will increase your PageRank from 4 to 5. There
are too many factors to try to figure it out - and just about the time
you do figure it out, the algorithm changes, anyway.
Think of it this way: sites that don't fluctuate much have a healthy
combination of "important" links to their page, a logical number of
links FROM their page, content relative to their search terms without
'spamming' those key words or terms, and are designed in such a way
that it is easy to crawl and index the sites.
They present something of value which other sites link to for no other
reason than there is value and relevancy on those sites.
The sheer number of pages crawled and indexed, and getting the "most
relevant" to the searcher's query is any search engine's highest
priority, recalculating that number for the toolbar would be a much
lower priority, and it is one of those things that would always be
trying to catch up with the reality of SERPs rankings.
If there is a logical reason for any site, no matter what their
PageRank, to link to your site, they should be encouraged to do so.
But it is only one part of the complicated algorithm. To be concerned
with one portion of the algorithm (PageRank) without paying attention
to other important factors (relevant content, ease of use, etc.) may
help - but only until the algorithms change.
Does Google make mistakes in some search terms? Undoubtedly! But they
also get 'fixed'. In the meantime, add links that make sense and
relate to your own content, and don't worry too much about that number
on the toolbar. There is too much evidence that its relevancy to SERPs
isn't always reliable.
Developing links is an ongoing process - but one constant is that if
you are offering relevant material, the links seem to come by
I occasionally check the links to my pages (both in my web logs and
just checking a search engine's links), and am surprised by the number
of people who will link to an article or information page. I don't
know them. I don't know how they found the site and/or that portion,
but over the years it has built up.
My PageRank? Last time I looked, it was 5. It was 4, then 6, then 5.
The number of unique visitors to my own sites, though, is fairly
consistant; which ultimately is more important than that toolbar
I hope this clarifies my answer - get the links that make sense to
get, and don't worry too much about their PageRank, either. If it
makes sense to link, it can only help.