Goodbye PageRank …. Hello Secret PageRank

For awhile now people have been speculating the end of Google’s PageRank system. This week Google’s John Mueller said Google probably won’t update Toolbar PageRank ever again. But does that really mean PageRank is gone forever? Not hardly. In fact, we have already been told time and again that Google uses an internal version of PageRank and their entire search engine is built around it.

First let’s define it. PageRank is an algorithm used by Google Search to rank websites in their search engine results. PageRank was named after Larry Page, one of the founders of Google. PageRank is a way of measuring the importance of website pages. PageRank works by counting the number 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. PageRank was developed at Stanford University by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1996 as part of a research project about a new kind of search engine. Sergey Brin had the idea that information on the web could be ordered in a hierarchy by “link popularity”: a page is ranked higher as there are more links to it.

So do you really think they are going to ditch something named after the founder of Google as well as the system that their entire search system is built around? Of course not! Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t pay close enough to what Google engineers have been telling us for years.

So why ditch the toolbar PageRank then? You know, the little PR0 – PR10 system we normal folks used to judge the value of our website on? Simply put, because far to many people were using Toolbar PageRank to try and abuse the system and manipulate search results. Instead of focusing on quality, unique content (which Google wants you to focus on) people obsessed about getting more links. So for them the easiest way to combat that is to ditch the public version of the product.

Not much is known about the internal version of the PageRank system but some rumors and tiny tidbits of information have leaked over the years. Unlike what we know as the toolbar pagerank system which is updated a few times a year, Google’s private PageRank is updated at least once every week (possibly as much as twice a week).

The old toolbar PageRank system was based on a 0 to 10 point system so for example a website could be a PR0 up to a PR10. But the Google internal or secret version is said to be up to a point system of 0 to 200 and can include any number in between. So for example, a site could be 43.00 or 93.19. Heck in theory a site could even be .00001 or 99.062247.

We really don’t know what the PageRank of a given site is at any given moment but what we do know is that it changes often. How often varies depending on who you ask. Some say every 7 days, while others say twice in a week, while others say it could change just slightly every single day. The current theory by most experts at this time is that the Google “secret” PageRank is updated once a week. Google is in a constant state of flux. It’s spiders never sleep. It is not only out there indexing all those new pages that appear each and every day but also all the changes to the current pages that are already in its database. We know that its spider does a quick sweep daily but then it will come back and do a more in depth one later on if it finds changes, and some say it is those more serious sweeps of a site is what plays into the secret PageRank update. But again we really don’t know for sure.

Like the toolbar PageRank the internal Google PageRank system is said to be based on total backlinks as well as the authority of those backlinks. So basically from what the rumors are, the internal PageRank system as Google worked just like the other version when it comes to getting backlinks. The more you have the better, but a single link from a higher PageRank’d website means more than a bunch of links from a lesser PageRank’d website. That’s exactly how it worked before and that’s exactly how it still works now. The only difference is, now you have no freaking clue what your Google PageRank is and that’s just the Google spam team likes it.

Now you have less and less people out there buying and selling links because they don’t *SEE* the value. It’s no longer right in front of their face. It’s not to say that value is no longer there, but most people want to SEE what they are paying for so since they can’t do that anymore, the buying links market has really started to take a huge nosedive and no doubt the fine folks over at Google couldn’t be happier about it.






WTH is Googlebot?

I tell my clients to always invest in a good stats programs and since you can typically get a program like awstats for free, you just need to have your web hosting company install it on your server, there is never an excuse not to have a real server side stats program.

Stats programs are awesome because they tell you all sorts of fun things like how many actual visitors a day are at your website and where in the world they came to you from.  You’ll see that sometimes another site may send them over or sometimes they came to you from search engines.  A good stats program like awstats (or the like) will even tell you what common keywords people use to search when they find your website.

Another fun thing it can tell you is what web browsers people are using to visit your website.  If you know what people are using to see your site then you know what it will look like when you check your own pages in those various browsers.  46% of the people who visit this site use Firefox, 29% use Safari, 15.9% use IE.  I would have thought Chrome numbers would have been much higher by now but apparently I was wrong.

One of the clients I had get a stats program came back to me with a question and while I thought it was pretty common knowledge these days after speaking with him and a few others, I realized maybe I was wrong.  Maybe people don’t know as much about search engine technology as I had thought they did.

His question was, WTH is Googlebot?  Is it something to do with  I noticed it has been at my blog every day.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

The answer is yes, Googlebot is Google’s web crawling bot or spider. It has everything to do with Google and is it a good thing that Googlebot is visiting you daily?  Yes it is.  Googlebot will visit your site and sort of crawl through your pages to see what new things you have added or what has been updated since it last visited you.  The more often you add new content, the more Googlebot will visit your site and and that should equal better search results for you which means the more people Google’s search engine can send your site.