I wrote this because I was explaining PageRank to someone today, and I realized that my first post on PageRank
didn’t do a good enough job of explaining some of the strange things you will see from time-to-time. I also added it into that post.
Anomalies with “Toolbar PageRank”
Another important aspect aspect to consider is that there are a few anomalies associated with the PageRank scale as it’s shown on the Google Toolbar. One is the fact that it’s only updated every quarter, and sometimes less often than that. Because of that, sites that are new, may take a while to get “Toolbar PageRank.” I’ve also seen a lot of cases where the initial toolbar PageRank was higher than what they ended up having in subsequent updates.
Another anomaly is the fact that the scale seems to change over time. If you think about it, it makes sense because the internet is constantly growing while the scale remains a number 1 – 10. That being said, it should follow that websites who were at one point a PR5, that don’t build links over time, will see a decrease in their PageRank as it’s displayed by the toolbar over time. This is something I’ve seen on older websites I own. I used to be able to get a PR5 from the toolbar with just a few hundred average links, whereas these days it takes significantly more link building effort to achieve the same toolbar PageRank. The “kicker” is that these “toolbar PageRank” changes may not be associated with loss in rankings at all.
It’s because of the concept of internet growth mentioned above, and penalties that I will discuss next, that I’ve often seen a website’s search rankings go up, even though their toolbar PageRank went down!
The last anomaly I should address about the toolbar is that occasionally you will find websites whose toolbar PageRank has been penalized. It’s something that is most often noticed when you’re looking at competitive search results, and you find it strange that the top results are all well-optimized web pages, yet one on top has a significantly lower PageRank than those beneath. While this can usually be attributed to on-page SEO factors, sometimes it’s because Google actually penalized the toolbar PageRank of the site because it was selling links at one point in time. The strange thing about these types of toolbar PageRank penalties is that they seem to only affect the toolbar and not the website’s actual search engine rankings. This would indicate that “actual PageRank” has not been affected. Sometimes these penalized websites can get their “toolbar PageRank” back through appeal, but that’s not always the case.
As you can see based on these anomalies, there are quite a few reasons that the toolbar may not be indicative of how a website ranks in the search engines.