PageRank is a link analysis algorithm, developed by Larry Page and named in his honor, that assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, with the purpose of "measuring" its relative importance within the set.
The name PageRank is a trademark of Google. The PageRank process has been patented (U.S. Patent 6,285,999
), but the patent is assigned to Stanford University rather than Google.
PageRank results from a "ballot" among all the other pages on the World Wide Web about how important a page is. A hyperlink to a page counts as a vote of support. The PageRank of a page is defined recursively and depends on the number and PageRank metric of all pages that link to it ("incoming links
"). A page that is linked to by many pages with high PageRank receives a high rank itself. If there are no links to a web page there is no support for that page.
Numerous academic papers concerning PageRank have been published since Page and Brin's original paper. In practice, the PageRank concept has proven to be vulnerable to manipulation, and extensive research has been devoted to identifying falsely inflated PageRank and ways to ignore links from documents with falsely inflated PageRank.
Google assigns a numeric weighting from 0-10 for each webpage on the Internet, this PageRank denotes a site's importance in the eyes of Google. The scale for PageRank is logarithmic like the Richter Scale and roughly based upon quantity of inbound links as well as importance of the page providing the link.
PageRank is based on citation analysis that was developed in the 1950s by Eugene Garfield at the University of Pennsylvania. Google's founders cite Garfield's work in their original paper. In this way virtual communities of webpages are found. Teoma's search technology uses a communities approach in its ranking algorithm. NEC Research Institute has worked on similar technology. Web link analysis was first developed by Jon Kleinberg and his team while working on the CLEVER project at IBM's Almaden Research Center.
While the PR shown in the Toolbar is considered to be derived from an accurate PageRank value (at some time prior to the time of publication by Google) for most sites, it must be noted that this value is also easily manipulated. A current flaw is that any low PageRank page that is redirected, via a 302 server header or a "Refresh" meta tag, to a high PR page causes the lower PR page to acquire the PR of the destination page. In theory a new, PR0 page with no incoming links can be redirected to the Google home page - which is a PR 10 - and by the next PageRank update the PR of the new page will be upgraded to a PR10. This spoofing technique, also known as 302 Google Jacking, is a known failing or bug in the system. Any page's PR can be spoofed to a higher or lower number of the webmaster's choice and only Google has access to the real PR of the page. Spoofing is generally detected by running a Google search for a URL with questionable PR, as the results will display the URL of an entirely different site (the one redirected to) in its results.
For search-engine optimization purposes, some companies offer to sell high PageRank links to webmasters. As links from higher-PR pages are believed to be more valuable, they tend to be more expensive. It can be an effective and viable marketing strategy to buy link advertisements on content pages of quality and relevant sites to drive traffic and increase a webmaster's link popularity. However, Google has publicly warned webmasters that if they are or were discovered to be selling links for the purpose of conferring PageRank and reputation, their links will be devalued (ignored in the calculation of other pages' PageRanks). The practice of buying and selling links is intensely debated across the Webmastering community. Google advises webmasters to use the nofollow HTML attribute value on sponsored links. According to Matt Cutts, Google is concerned about webmasters who try to game the system, and thereby reduce the quality of Google search results.