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PageRank Update and an Adorable Analogy

by Jesse Laffen

Every time there is a toolbar PageRank update, such as the one which occurred earlier this week, people are always coming to us with questions. Many of these could be answered a little better if the SEO community had a decent, reliable model that explains how PageRank works, but unfortunately, we have yet to develop one. We’ve tried buckets, juice, oceans, lasers, just about everything to explain just how PageRank flows in and around websites, but to no avail.

So today, I’m going to try to answer those questions the most adorable way I know how: With a basket of kittens.

You see, your website is a basket. Each basket is a little different, with different shapes, sizes, strengths, colors, and many other varying factors, just as websites come with different pages, architecture, links, and the like.

PageRank is like a formula that attempts to figure out the likelihood of finding some amount of kitten in some part of the basket at any given second. The more cats you keep in the basket and the longer they stay, the more likely it is that, at any given time, any part of your basket will contain cat.

Like kittens, PageRank moves around your entire site; although, the way your site (or basket) is structured may have a bit of influence over how it moves around. Also like kittens, PageRank can be notoriously difficult to influence or predict.

With these basic tenets in mind, let’s answer the questions we hear most about toolbar PageRank update:

Q: Oh, No! My PageRank dropped! Is my website okay?

A: Yes. Your website is going to be just fine. In fact, your basket has had fewer kittens populating it for a while now, Google is just letting you know that they’re still running around in there, but they visit each corner less often than they used to.

Q: So you mean my new PageRank isn’t so new?

A: Yes and no. PageRank is calculated constantly and your site’s has been trending to where it is now for quite some time, and the number you see is the closest whole number to where it was on the day that Google decided to export rankings.

Q: What if it went up?

A: Then that’s great. An increase in PageRank is an indication that Google expects to see kittens in your basket a little more often than in the past, so keep building great content and getting links pointing to it.

Q: Are my rankings going to change?

A: No, your rankings before the update should be pretty stable afterward as well. Since your actual PageRank is always adjusting, that very small part of your ranking score already reflects the reality you’re seeing in the toolbar update.

In conclusion, the PageRank score Google displays in its browser toolbar isn’t the only, or even the most important, indicator about how your site will rank. Therefore, while it’s interesting to see how Google sees your site, it’s nothing to get hung up on.


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