PR Update – New Pages Only

Of course, if you head down to the Digitalpoint forums, there’s almost always at least a few threads asking if there has been a PR update, or asking if anyone knows when the next one will be, or someone claiming that their instantaneous drop from PR2 to PR0 is solid proof that there’s been an update (No, sorry: That’s proof you got busted trying to rig the system and it probably involves some bought or sold links, spam penalties, etc…)

Well, in the last few days the normal volume of PR-related posts has doubled or tripled, and usually that’s at least a pretty good sign that something is going on – even if its not a full toolbar pagerank export.

So I go to check all my primary domains:  Nope, I haven’t seen the updates predicted by Google’s webmaster tools.

But I do notice there’s some changes – on new posts and new domains that I’ve just been working on for the last month or so.

This is what I consider an “interim” page-rank update – one that focuses on brand new URLs.  Mostly, it means that new posts are going from PR:N/A to PR:0.

Of course, this is nothing to get really excited about and it doesn’t really tell us anything about how Google is calculating pagerank this time around, just that they’re still watching your new stuff.  Obviously, a lot of these newly recognized URLs and domains are ranking in at 0s and 1s, but this is to be expected because pagreank is a moving target and the number that is finally exported to the toolbar and datacenters is an average across the quarter or monthly period that they’re calculating.

Quick example:

Website A starts with PR3 for six weeks, at which time it gets new backlinks that will bring its total PR to 5.  Six weeks after the new links, Google pushes an export of toolbar PR.  For that update, the page is likely to show as PR4 instead of PR5 – despite the “instantaneous value” of PR5 that is actually used to calculate the URL’s linking authority.

Sweeping statement?  Maybe, but let’s play a little though experiment.  If I posted a link that got to the front page of Digg the day before a PR export, you’d expect that link to end up somewhere like PR6 or PR7 since it has a PR8 link pointing to it.  But that link is very temporary and Google has to count the time that the link didn’t exist to get the results we’re all more used to seeing (PR2-4 for pages that get a fifteen minutes of social fame).

And of course, this number tends to go down when you’re relying on just a few high-power bookmarks.

If you want to see your “instantaneous Pagerank” you should probably check inside Google webmaster tools (have I recommended that like three times in the last two posts?)  Of course, it won’t show you exactly what PR each individual URL is, but it will show you in relative terms how many of your pages are ranked Low (PR0 to PR4), Medium (PR5 – PR?) and High (probably PR7+ or PR8+).  Now, it will show you your highest PR URL from the prior month, but you’ll have to kind of guess from there based on what you know about your backlinks and internal linking configuration.

This is where I see that my domain has cracked into the medium range (PR5) but I would expect that the next PR update only delivers a visible toolbar number of PR4 – because its taking an average for the current quarterly period.  If Google delays the PR push, then maybe the next visible number would be PR5 anyway.

Of course I’m “guessing” at all of this – I’m trying to find a hypothesis that matches the evidence I’ve seen.  More evidence is likely to lead to a refinement of the theory, or a need to completely revamp it.  Based on when I’ve seen these partial / new-page-only updates in the past, we’re probably another three or four weeks from the full pagerank export.

I welcome your critiques, opinions, and angry rants alike!

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