PageRank Drop

I woke up this morning to find that the Page Rank on this site has dropped from a prestigious 5 to a more mediocre 4. This is a shame really, as I’ve been trying recently to push it up, and it’s quite demoralising to find it’s gone the other way. I’m hoping that this is just an anomaly that will sort itself out, but I’m not too hopeful.

Now, I’m not one of these nuts who would kill for a bit more PR, but it’s nice to have a metric you can compare against other sites and it’s sad when that metric takes a tumble. I’ll put a bit more effort into nurturing it, in the hope it climbs up again.

In the meantime I found a great FAQ on PageRank on a forum, so I thought I’d replicate it here for people who don’t know what I’m on about:

How can I check my PR?

If you install the Google Toolbar (available here) you will see a green indicator in your Internet Explorer toolbar showing you the PR of the page. Hovering over the green bar will give you a number which is the page’s PR. If you don’t have the toolbar you can still check an individual page’s PR using many tools on the internet. There are also toolbars for Firefox users, like this example.

How does page rank affect your listing in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages)?

It doesn’t. [*see note at bottom] There was a time when higher page rank pages were more likely to feature ahead of lower PR pages but that is not the case anymore as a few seaches will demonstrate. There are a lot of other factors that affect where your page is displayed in the results. Google states that it does not recommend webmasters exchange links to increase their PR. Google sees that as trying to “game” their search engine. It is generally accepted that exchanging/buying links purely for PR is a waste of time (and, in fact, can have detrimental effects).

What detrimental effects will I face for buying PR?

Sites with higher PR often make money by selling links on their high PR pages. If Google is aware that they are selling PR rather than just selling ad space (don’t ask me how Google can tell the difference or if, indeed, they can) Google may penalise both the seller and buyer. This can take the form of lowering where you appear in the results but may not necessarily result in a downgrade of the PR you see in the toolbar.

I’d still like to improve the Page Rank of my site?

First, sites don’t have PR, pages do. That’s why it’s possible for an internal page to have a higher PR than the home page. The way a page gets PR is from links to it and that’s the only way of improving PR. IBLs (incoming backlinks) from high PR pages can give you more PR than links from low PR pages. There is one other factor at play. The PR they “give” is spread over the number of outgoing links on the pages. You may get more PR benefit from a PR3 page with only two outbound links than a PR7 page with hundreds of outbound links.

What links do I need to get to take my homepage to PR6

There isn’t a quick answer to that. One link from a good PR7 page (or indeed a high PR6 page) could give you a PR6. OTOH, you may need hundreds of links from PR3 and 4 pages to get to a PR6. By the same measure a link from a PR3 page that subsequently rises to a PR7 will rise in value as the “giving” page’s PR keeps improving.

I’ve added a lot of IBLs but I don’t see my PR changing/my PR has dropped

There are several reasons why you may not be seeing the result. First, a PR5 ranges all the way from a PR5.00001 to a PR5.99999. You could have improved from a 5.0 to a 5.9 and you’ll have no way of knowing it from the PR toolbar. Second, the value of a PR5 itself could have changed. So, even if you were on a PR5.9, added a lot in IBLs, and still didn’t make it to a 6.0 it could be because the scale has changed and, though you are still at 5.9 the 5.9 is more valuable than it was before. Third, the value of the pages that are linking to you would have likely changed themselves so the PR they are giving you probably changed.

How often does the PR change?

This could vary widely. It may be a month or six months before Google revise the PR across all the pages they’ve indexed. One thing you can be sure off: When Google revises PR there’ll be at least one thread here about it. 🙂

Will they inform me when they revise PR?


Help, I’ve lost all PR!

Before panic sets in check whether you are grey barred or white barred. If the toolbar shows white for the page it’s not been barred and your PR will probably come back. Note also that Google sees,, and as three different pages. If you have links coming to all three then your incoming PR is being shared by those three pages.

Why is my PR more in the Google directory than it is on the toolbar?

The Google directory uses a different scale to the toolbar.

It was easy to get from a PR4 to a PR5 but it’s taking much longer to get to a PR6, why’s that?

The PR scale is not linear, it’s logarithmic i.e. moving from a PR9 to a PR10 make look like a one point increase and require the same amount of effort as going from PR1 to PR2 but that’s not the case. It is thousands of times more difficult. The exact log scale used is unknown but there has been speculation here that it could be around “5”.

How can I retain PR on my site and prevent it from going to other sites?

There are various ways people try to “horde” PR. They use javascript or a cgi when they are linking to outside pages in the hope that Google won’t see these as links and therefore not take any PR away from the site. That is misguided. As a study of current search results show pages that appear high in the results sometimes have a lot of outgoing links and are ranked high in SERPs because of that. So, yes, it may improve your PR if you shield/mask outgoing links but that will likely be at the expense of losing you some Google traffic.

If PR is virtually useless from the point of view of Google traffic then why did you ramble on for so long and cover all those point?

PR still has value to some. People selling sites may get a higher price as not all buyers realise that PR has very little value. Webmasters selling text links on their sites can get more money for the ads they sell. There are other such uses for higher PR. For example, it is believed that sites with higher PR pages get indexed more often.

So if PR doesn’t determine how I rank then what does?

That’s the million dollar question. 🙂 Nobody knows for sure except Google themselves. But if you spend enough time browsing here – and filtering the noise – you may get a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.


  1. Hey Owen, saw you on the PPP boards, and thought I’d drop by as I haven’t registered there yet.

    Your PR MAY have dropped as a PR update is due, however, it could be due to the non-www and www version of your URL reporting different values. Google views these 2 addresses as totally different sites.

    A way around this is to do a 301 re-direct which takes all of 2 minutes, and tells Google that both addresses are the same, stopping dilution of your PR.

    I’ve written a ‘How to’ on my blog, or feel free to mail me.


  2. Thanks for this, and the comment on my blog. Unfortunately my website is running on IIS and therefore I don’t have a working .htaccess file. I’m using a custom 404 handler to deal with WordPress permalinks, but this wouldn’t be called in this instance and I need something tha tintercepts the HTTP call, rather than a reactive solution. Thanks for the tip though.

  3. Hi Owen! The same happened to me, even the same day. One of my sites dropped from 3 to 2!! I almost start weeping!!! I have been working on this site for the last month, improving its contents and getting inbound links… and hoping it would climb to PR4… I really don’t understand what’s going on 🙁


  4. Its the 13th Jan 2008 and I have just seen our PR drop from 3 to 2 and am devastated. My wife and I have been working hard for 2 years or more. We have got rid of some bad links, have increased original content and changed a few things and this is how our hard work is repayed. The annoying thing is that when you do a Google search so many of the results are just link farms with no original content of their own. I get the feeling that we are experiencing the same as the poor farmers during the Depression when the banks foreclosed on them. Of course our experience is not even near what the farmers had to endure but it sure feels bad.

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