How does Google PageRank work?

Quickly, you can define the PageRank as a system to assess the relevance of a web, a scoring system that allows to score each Web and, like in the school, scores range is from 0 to 10. (Of course 10 is Excellent 😉 ).

To understand and appreciate in the right measure the role of PageRank within the positioning of a Web, we must first understand how a search engine works and which is its pursued objective.

How does a search on Google work?

When we make a Google Search (or another search engine), the search engine internally performs a lot of processes, which are ultimately translated into a suggestion.

This suggestion is made through a list of websites (elements) that according to Google Search engine, are the “best”, are the websites that offer the information that better fits into the search you have done.

On the other hand, this suggestion presents the results of the search ordered so that the most valued element of the list by Google occupy the top positions and less valued come out in the following positions and on the following pages of results.

Logically the main goal of any search engine is that its “suggestions” are to your liking and in consequence you continue relying on it and do not use other tools or search engines so that, the search engine will strive to understand what are the contents of the websites to value them properly and thus to offer suggestions that truly fit your searches in quality content.

The key of searches is therefore on the ability of search engines to understand content and to develop this process, search engines have created tools and indexes that allow them to decide what content is the most relevant and in what order they must show them when they get any search requests by users.

It’s easy: good understanding, good evaluation; good evaluation, good suggestion… And this is the first step on the mechanism of any search engine but, once we have the list of results that fit with a search, on an equal basis in relation to the quality of content, what will be the first for showing to user?

And to solve this question, Google proposed another approach and thought: in the first places, I’ll recommend to those other sites recommend and in this point, Google implemented in its search engine the Google PageRank index as a system to assess Websites in function of third-party recommendations.

The basis of operation of PageRank

The evaluation index of websites PageRank is based on the links that a website receives from other external websites, both in the quantity as in the quality of links (Remember, quality. Not all links are equal!)

For the PageRank index, a link to a Web is equivalent to a recommendation of a third-party, ie, a Web recommends another Web and of course, the more recommendations better. So, in principle, one of the goals of any web is to have got a lot of links from external websites.

The relevance of the links

But not all recommendations (links) are equally good… Consider the following example: for us, is it the same when:

  • a person in the middle of the street recommends a restaurant to you,
  • a good friend recommends a restaurant to you,
  • Ferran Adrià himself recommends a restaurant to you ?

So, if for us, these three suggestions have not got the same relevance, for a Search Engine, shouldn’t it be the same with the links?

Unconsciously, we classify and order the “recommentations” depending on our relationship with the source of this information and, additionally, depending on the expertise (authority) of the source in this subject. Well, the Search Engines try to do the same and thus, for a Search Engine, a “link to” our website from a little and unknown blog about other subjects has not got the same relevance that a “link” from a well-known website about our subject, or even a link from the website of a friend of us.

A recommendation of a restaurant by Ferran Adrià himself is worth more than 100 anonymous recommendations, it seems logical, right?

In consequence, for Google is not the same as your website is linked from the website of your friend, from the blog of your neighbor, from a website of the local administration or from a Website of reference (such as a newspaper, a major blog, etc …). ie, not all links are equivalents. And around this idea, Google implemented the PageRank Index.

Factors influencing the quality of links

As explained above, not all links are equal and there are many factors that make that a link is valid, ie, positive or even, with the latest changes from Google, it is counterproductive. See some more factors.

  • The PageRank himself from the Web links you. A higher PageRank “best advice”
  • The number of outgoing links from the Web page that links to your website. If a Website links to you (recommends) together with 100 other websites, this link or recommendation has got less relevance.
  • The authority of the Website that links your website. As mentioned above, it’s not the same as a link from a Website that “nobody knows” and has barely got visits or a recommendation from the Wikipedia. Without going into technicalities, the authority can be understood as the prestige or credibility of a website.
  • The anchor text which your website is linked with. Is not the same a text like “Press this” as a text like “Recommeded restaurant”.
  • The subject of the website that link our website. Related subjects produces more qualified links.

One last thought

Despite of a few months ago, Google published that it officially closes the PageRank, if you carefully read the text of this news you can read that Google exactly said that they close the external access to PageRank… So, it is assumed that internally, Google will continue using the PageRank Index so that, don’t forget to check the list of the incoming link to your website, check their sources, anchor texts, etc.