Originally Posted by rajivweb
PageRank is a link analysis algorithm, named after Larry Page and used by the Google Internet search engine, that assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of "measuring" its relative importance within the set. The algorithm may be applied to any collection of entities with reciprocal quotations and references. The numerical weight that it assigns to any given element E is referred to as the PageRank of E and denoted by PR(E).
The name "PageRank" is a trademark of Google, and the PageRank process has been patented (U.S. Patent 6,285,999). However, the patent is assigned to Stanford University and not to Google. Google has exclusive license rights on the patent from Stanford University. The university received 1.8 million shares of Google in exchange for use of the patent; the shares were sold in 2005 for $336 million.
A PageRank results from a mathematical algorithm based on the webgraph, created by all World Wide Web pages as nodes and hyperlinks as edges, taking into consideration authority hubs such as cnn.com or usa.gov. The rank value indicates an importance of a particular page. 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.
Other link-based ranking algorithms for Web pages include the HITS algorithm invented by Jon Kleinberg (used by Teoma and now Ask.com), the IBM CLEVER project, and the TrustRank algorithm.
PageRank was developed at Stanford University by Larry Page (hence the name Page-Rank) and Sergey Brin as part of a research project about a new kind of search engine. Sergey Brin had the idea that information on the web could be ordered in a hierarchy by "link popularity": a page is ranked higher as there are more links to it. It was co-authored by Rajeev Motwani and Terry Winograd. The first paper about the project, describing PageRank and the initial prototype of the Google search engine, was published in 1998: shortly after, Page and Brin founded Google Inc., the company behind the Google search engine. While just one of many factors that determine the ranking of Google search results, PageRank continues to provide the basis for all of Google's web search tools.
PageRank has been influenced by citation analysis, early developed by Eugene Garfield in the 1950s at the University of Pennsylvania, and by Hyper Search, developed by Massimo Marchiori at the University of Padua. In the same year PageRank was introduced (1998), Jon Kleinberg published his important work on HITS. Google's founders cite Garfield, Marchiori, and Kleinberg in their original paper.
A small search engine called "RankDex" from IDD Information Services designed by Robin Li was, since 1996, already exploring a similar strategy for site-scoring and page ranking. The technology in RankDex would be patented by 1999 and used later when Li founded Baidu in China. Li's work would be referenced by some of Larry Page's U.S. patents for his Google search methods.
The Google Toolbar's PageRank feature displays a visited page's PageRank as a whole number between 0 and 10. The most popular websites have a PageRank of 10. The least have a PageRank of 0. Google has not disclosed the specific method for determining a Toolbar PageRank value, which is to be considered only a rough indication of the value of a website.
PageRank measures the number of sites that link to a particular page. The PageRank of a particular page is roughly based upon the quantity of inbound links as well as the PageRank of the pages providing the links. The algorithm also includes other factors, such as the size of a page, the number of changes, the time since the page was updated, the text in headlines and the text in hyperlinked anchor texts.
The Google Toolbar's PageRank is updated infrequently, so the values it shows are often out of date.
The search engine results page (SERP) is the actual result returned by a search engine in response to a keyword query. The SERP consists of a list of links to web pages with associated text snippets. The SERP rank of a web page refers to the placement of the corresponding link on the SERP, where higher placement means higher SERP rank. The SERP rank of a web page is a function not only of its PageRank, but of a relatively large and continuously adjusted set of factors (over 200), commonly referred to by internet marketers as "Google Love". Search engine optimization (SEO) is aimed at achieving the highest possible SERP rank for a website or a set of web pages.
After the introduction of Google Places into the mainstream organic SERP, PageRank played little to no role in ranking a business in the Local Business Results. While the theory of citations still plays a role in the algorithm, PageRank is not a factor since business listings, rather than web pages, are ranked.
Google Directory PageRank
The Google Directory PageRank is an 8-unit measurement. Unlike the Google Toolbar, which shows a numeric PageRank value upon mouseover of the green bar, the Google Directory only displays the bar, never the numeric values.
False or Spoofed PageRank
In the past, the PageRank shown in the Toolbar was easily manipulated. Redirection from one page to another, either via a HTTP 302 response or a "Refresh" meta tag, caused the source page to acquire the PageRank of the destination page. Hence, a new page with PR 0 and no incoming links could have acquired PR 10 by redirecting to the Google home page. This spoofing technique, also known as 302 Google Jacking, was a known vulnerability. Spoofing can generally be detected by performing a Google search for a source URL; if the URL of an entirely different site is displayed in the results, the latter URL may represent the destination of a redirection.
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 Webmaster 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 and relevancy of Google search results.
The Intentional Surfer Model
The original PageRank algorithm reflects the so-called random surfer model, meaning that the PageRank of a particular page is derived from the theoretical probability of visiting that page when clicking on links at random. However, real users do not randomly surf the web, but follow links according to their interest and intention. A page ranking model that reflects the importance of a particular page as a function of how many actual visits it receives by real users is called the intentional surfer model. The Google toolbar sends information to Google for every page visited, and thereby provides a basis for computing PageRank based on the intentional surfer model. The introduction of the nofollow attribute by Google to combat Spamdexing has the side effect that webmasters commonly use it on outgoing links to increase their own PageRank. This causes a loss of actual links for the Web crawlers to follow, thereby making the original PageRank algorithm based on the random surfer model potentially unreliable. Using information about users' browsing habits provided by the Google toolbar partly compensates for the loss of information caused by the nofollow attribute. The SERP rank of a page, which determines a page's actual placement in the search results, is based on a combination of the random surfer model (PageRank) and the intentional surfer model (browsing habits) in addition to other factors.