I noticed something interesting today. I was playing with some SEO tools to understand how Google ranks sites a bit better and decided to check how many inbound links Google thinks this site has. I fired up Google and tried:
Google reported a grand total of 248 websites that link to my home page. Now, I don’t think of myself as being vain, but I remember back in the days when my PageRank was 5 that I had tens of thousands of inbound links. So I popped off to ask other search engines what inbound links they though I had:
Well, Yahoo thinks I have over 33,000 links spread over almost 8000 pages.
Now, I suspect this might have something to do with relevance. It’s possible to ask Google what websites it thinks are related to you:
gives a list of websites that Google thinks are related to this one. Which means Google has the ability to figure out what box to put your website in. My theory is that the drop in incoming links could come about from Google only caring about inbound links from related websites. So, if you had a website that lets you search for videographers for example, an inbound link from a website selling acne treatments might not count. I’m not saying this is a bad thing for the searching public as it increases the relevance of the searches. However it does mean that using Page Rank to gauge the value of a website is probably the wrong metric to use.
This theory could explain some things I considered strange on my website. For example, my Comment Email Responder page has a PageRank of 0, even though there are hundreds of bloggers out there who wax lyrical about the plugin. But, if Google thinks the page is about PHP development (which is what it really is), and all the bloggers talking about it don’t run blogs about PHP development (which I’m pretty sure most of them don’t), then Google wouldn’t count those links. What do you think? Does the theory hold water?
The bottom line is that I believe PageRank is really just an internal measure that Google uses to figure out relative relationships between pages in a certain theme and is useless for comparing one webpage to another. Would love to hear your feedback