Stop worrying about the green bar. Live PageRank explained.

PageRank is a very important metric these days. However, a lot of people are misinterpreting it. They are not only expecting too much of it, but do not really understand how it works.

Most of webmasters know PageRank changes with the amount of backlinks you get. A good amount of these webmasters think that PageRank is all that matters. This is wrong. PageRank updates at an average of every three months. This is what makes it a highly inaccurate metric. Of course, Google has the Live PageRank updated in real time but only they can access it. This is when webmasters go out looking for the Live PageRank in different places. They look in PageRank prediction tools; they look in the Google Directory, DMOZ, etc. This makes it quite amusing, as it is much easier than that.

The real PageRank is easy to find. My personal belief is that Google gives web sites page rank based on how often their spider comes up with a link to a site. It’s simple, nothing else matters. The PR of the page with the link on it is just a side effect. Every time Google comes through one of your links it follows it and gives you some PR juice. The more links it follows to your website the more your PageRank will increase. This one line explains all the mysteries about PageRank. It not only explains how it is obtained, what the real page rank is but more so why it is important to have backlinks in “high PageRank” websites, better addressed as, websites which google visits very often.

Based on this belief, it follows that a site could technically achieve a high PR, if it had 1 link on a PR0 page, and Googlebot was somehow malfunctioning and clicking on this same link over and over and over again, for a long time. This is quite easy to understand as it is exactly what happens. If you get a link from a PR7 page, with it alone you can achieve a PR5 (perhaps), because the PR7 site is being visited by the google spider so often, that this same spider keeps ending up at your site over and over. This is how subpages from PR9, PR10, get a high PR as well.

So basically, Live Page Rank is updated all the time, all you have to do is look at the number of backlinks, and these vary daily. I personally use the Yahoo! backlinks tool since this gives me a more accurate look on the number of backlinks I currently have. If you keep working on increasing those backlinks, your PageRank will skyrocket and Google spider will be all over your site, daily.

Of course, I have made my point and passed my beliefs onto you. Now you want proof. The best part about it is that I can present you with proof by just mentioning the site you are on right now, reading this blog post. Map100.com was started a month and a half ago. It had perhaps, 3 backlinks pointing to it. The domain was old, and died out. It was not updated at all and hence all the backlinks it had decreased. It had a measly PR1. I changed the whole purpose of the site, and started working on it. I built the site from scratch, made sure it is different from the thousands of directory sites out there and started my marketing campaign. According to Yahoo! we are up to around 160,000 backlinks which is pretty good. I would say it’s definitely enough for a PR5 next update, perhaps a PR6 (no ones knows, but do you care?). Googlebot visits the site very frequently. I have tracked the “cached” page updates Googlebot does on the website throughout two weeks now, and it is never older than 2-4 days on high page rank sites. This leads to the next accurate tool to check Live PageRank, the “last cached” tool. It is also a great metric for Live PageRank. Here are some stats that proof this point and back up my backlinks Live PageRank belief.

This is G o o g l e‘s cache of http://www.yahoo.com/ as retrieved on Dec 21, 2006 00:57:26 GMT.
PR9 site, last cached yesterday, obviously.

This is G o o g l e‘s cache of http://digg.com/ as retrieved on Dec 21, 2006 00:33:33 GMT.
PR8 site, last cached yesterday.

This is G o o g l e‘s cache of http://en.wikipedia.org/ as retrieved on Dec 21, 2006 00:43:39 GMT.
PR9 subpage, great example. The subpage of Wikipedia has more PR and it is cached more often than the main page. Since more people link to the english part of the site, google spider visits it more often.

This is G o o g l e‘s cache of http://www.map100.com/ as retrieved on Dec 20, 2006 08:13:14 GMT.
Our lovely site with an ugly PR1, however, the cache suggest we’ll be out of the ugly gray PR bar soon. Who cares about the bar though, as long as Google visits us often 😉

This is G o o g l e‘s cache of http://www.digitalpoint.com/ as retrieved on Dec 18, 2006 23:09:29 GMT.
PR8 page, this gets a little confusing due to the following entry.

This is G o o g l e‘s cache of http://forums.digitalpoint.com/ as retrieved on Dec 21, 2006 00:53:52 GMT.
PR7 subdomain but definitely more popular than the main domain. This is why a lot of DigitalPoint threads rank so high for different search engine terms. I wouldn’t be surprised if the forums get a higher PR next update due to their increasing popularity and countless new backlinks.

This is G o o g l e‘s cache of http://www.wikipedia.org/ as retrieved on Dec 17, 2006 05:42:44 GMT.
PR8 site, even though its the homepage, it is cached 5 days ago, much older than all the sites above. It is because it does not have as many backlinks pointing to it, hence not as many spider visits. I can come up with countless Wikipedia inner pages that are cached more often than the main page just because they have more links pointing to them.

This is G o o g l e‘s cache of http://www.myfreeguitar.com/ as retrieved on Dec 11, 2006 19:03:24 GMT.
A PR4 page proves my point, the cache is soon 2 weeks old, which proves cache is a very accurate tool for showing the Live PageRank of a site. One more example follows.

This is G o o g l e‘s cache of http://www.anonyspace.com/ as retrieved on Nov 4, 2006 16:31:50 GMT.
A PR3 page proves my point further, little backlinks, Live PageRank is bad. Last cached 6 weeks ago. Horrible.

This is G o o g l e‘s cache of http://www.davidtenemaza.com/ as retrieved on Dec 4, 2006 00:09:21 GMT.
My own personal page, was cached not so long ago. I assume due to this it’s Live PageRank should be around 4? Let’s hope so.

I could find countless more PR4 and PR3 sites to show you further how backlinks and the cache have a immediate implication on the Live Page Rank, what’s more so, it renders the PageRank metric useless since the real important thing is when the site was last visited anyway. You don’t want a link on a site which says it is PR5 but was last cached a month ago, think about all the time Google will take to get to that page, and then it has to get to your link as well.

I hope this post has given people some insight on what Live Page Rank actually is, and why everyone should stop worrying so much about the little green bar and using different tools to find out where to get links from. Have fun marketing your sites, and I hope next time someone asks you to exchange links you will look at Google cache and Yahoo! backlinks instead of the useless green bar.

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