PageRank is a link equity algorithm used by Google to determine the importance of web pages. It was developed by Google co-founder Larry Page while a student at Stanford University and is named after him.
The algorithm was fundamental to Google's search engine in its early years, although widespread link buying based on PageRank has seen a move towards other ranking factors, such as the company's TrustRank algorithm.
PageRank works by analysing how many inbound links each web page in its index has pointing to it; inbound links are interpreted as votes, a page with lots of them is seen as being more important and so will have a higher PageRank.
An 'important' page with a high PR is able to cast a more weighty vote, so a link from a PR10 website passes much more PageRank than one from a PR4 site. It is possible for a website to gain a relatively high PR rating with just a few links from other high PR websites, but as PR is just one ranking factor this won't necessarily make the website rank highly on Google.
As a patented technique and the product of a published research paper, the PageRank algorithm is available in the public domain. The formula is
PR(A) = (1-d) + d (PR(T1)/C(T1) + ... + PR(Tn)/C(Tn)) (where 'd' is a dampening factor and 'c' is the number of links on a page).
In an attempt to stop PR-based link bartering, Google introduced the 'nofollow' attribute, which stops links passing PageRank and link authority. It is commonly used on 'non-editorial' links and those where passing PR is undesirable, e.g. blog comments.
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