SEO Tip #70: How Do PageRank Updates Work?

Matt Cutts: This is a good question and let’s talk about PageRank updates in general. Just as a review PageRank is Google’s opinion about how reputable a page is. It’s something that is typically computed continuously. We have a bank of machines that’s always looking at new links that we discovered are in the crawl and continuously updating. So we have very fine grained notions of PageRank within Google.

Outside of Google, PageRank is truncated to ten levels that are visible in the Google toolbar. We typically say, take our opinion about the PageRank or the reputation of each page and every few months typically about four times a year we more or less have a chron job.

So April 1st, three months later you might see a PageRank update, and we’ll just go ahead and push that live. We have a few safety checks in place so we say, “Oh did we expect the PageRank of to be 7 or 8 and then suddenly dropped to 2?” If those sorts of things happen, then we might get an email and check into it.

But for the most part the process runs with very little human intervention. People don’t really need to oversee things. So we do still reserve the right, because it is our opinion of the reputation of the page that, for example if a page is selling links that pass PageRank then we might lower the toolbar PageRank. But for the most part a lot of this stuff can now run automatically and the updates pretty much happen like clockwork.

Again, PageRank is our opinion of the reputation of the page. It includes not only the links to your page but how important those links are. And then we do that by having a massive amount of computation that sort of says, across the entire web try to figure out which pages are the most reputable and then that typically comes out every 3 or 4 months.

So that’s kind of a rough idea. It is still out opinion, but we also do a lot of the work by machinery and that machinery on the whole tends to work very well and things just flow out naturally from there.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.