As Google continues to reign as the top search engine referral source, we all continue to check our PageRank (Download the Google Toolbar to view a web page's PageRank score). SEOs and webmasters scramble to increase their PageRank to a respectable score, anything above a 5, as we continue to analyze the workings of Google's PageRank calculation and its weight within the ranking algorithm. It is not a mystery that PageRank has a fairly large role in Google's ranking, but how much weight? Are there other variables that outweigh PageRank? Below we will discuss how much weight is given to PageRank, if PageRank alone is enough to rank, and more.

The Google algorithm takes many things into account when ranking web pages. Some of the variables for ranking in Google are:

  • Page Title
  • Link text
  • PageRank
  • Heading Tags
  • ALT Tags
  • Domain names
  • Filenames
  • Directory names
  • Link popularity
  • Keyword density

The weight that PageRank is assigned within Google's algorithm has always been debated, and will continue to be as the algorithm changes from month to month. Google does not stick with one algorithm like other search engines. Instead, Google switches between a few different algorithms from month to month.

One of the main reasons that the weight assigned to PageRank is debated is because it is not uncommon to see a website with a lower PageRank outranking a website with a higher PageRank. When we see this, it means three things: 1) PageRank is not the most important factor in Google's rankings algorithm, 2) a properly optimized website with an average PageRank can outrank a non-optimized website with a high PageRank, and 3) the on-page variables play a larger role in Google ranking than most tend to think.

We have seen evidence of web pages with a PageRank of 4 and 5 ranking higher than web pages with a PageRank of 8. The website with the PageRank of 5 was highly optimized and utilized all of the variables that Google takes into account when calculating rank. The website with a PageRank of 8, although carrying some of the SEO basics, was not highly optimized.

This is what happens to many corporate websites. The website ends up being awarded a high PageRank as a result of the high amount of websites linking to them, but they end up being outranked as a result of the lack of search engine optimization. When a website has a PageRank of 8 or above, it will not take a high level of optimization to obtain top rankings within Google.

PageRank is not the end-all-be-all of ranking within Google. One of the reasons is that PageRank is easily manipulated. For example, recently we are seeing companies selling links from websites with high PageRank. For this reason and others we realize that the PageRank calculation is not perfect. Therefore, Google cannot rely on a flawed concept for their algorithm - having a website's score play a role in its ranking is fine, but the score should not be the basis of this calculation.

If you design or optimize your website properly, remembering all of the on-page variables and criteria, you can set yourself up for success. Once you have completed this task and your site has entered the ranks, you will realize if you need to increase your PageRank to battle in Google's search engine results pages.
September 11, 2002





Andrew is the Director of Search Engine Optimization Operations for a market leading company. Since the Fall of 2001, Andrew has served as the moderator of the Search Engine Promotion forum within Webmasterworld.com - a leading online community of web professionals. Andrew's articles appear regularly on informative sites including Search Engine Guide, SEO Today, SitePoint and others.








Search Engine Guide > Andrew Gerhart > The Weight of Google PageRank in Ranking