Popularity Contest: How to reveal your invisible PageRank

podium.jpgLet's face it. We all like to check the Google PageRank bar to see how important websites, especially ours, are for Google. This tells us how cool and popular our site is.

For those of us who are popularity-obsessed, the sad part is that the other search engines do not provide a similar feature, and Google's visible PageRank is updated only every 3 months (the real PageRank is invisible). This blog is two months old and doesn't have a visible PageRank yet, but I get referrals from many long tail searches, ergo it has to have a PageRank already. 

How can you tell what your PageRank is without waiting for the public update? Keep reading to learn this useful tip. This technique is not bulletproof, but you can get a rough estimate of your invisible PageRank — and how important your pages are for the other search engines as well — by studying how frequently your page is indexed.
To understand how this works, let's talk about something you've always suspected. Search engines, like teenagers, care a lot about popularity. They visit (crawl) the most important pages more frequently, the ones that are updated daily. Why? Because updated pages are cooler and more interesting to searchers. And after all, why waste bandwidth visiting boring personal homepages that change once every few months, when all the kids want to know about the popular ones that are going all night long?

So how popular are you? To put it one way, you are as popular as you are frequently indexed. You can easily tell when a page is indexed by looking at the cached copy date. It is not surprising to see pages like digg.com that are always cached with today's date. Digg has a PageRank of 8. You can probably see pages on this blog or yours whose cache date is several days or weeks old. The tricky thing is that you need to consider the update frequency as well.

Here are the steps required to put this to work:

1. Go to the search engine you want to study (Google, Yahoo, Live, etc.).
2. Check popular blogs and news sites that get updated at least daily and check the date of the cache.
3. Repeat step 2 for blogs with decreasing popularity.
4. Create a new post and see how long it takes the search engine to crawl and index your page. If it's not your page, monitor an RSS feed and see when it was cached.
5. Create a table and rank the sites by popularity, include the indexing frequency.
6. Order by indexing frequency and you will have your site rank or importance for that search engine.

While this trick isn't perfect, it does give you a good idea of how important your site is for any search engine. And with a little work, you'll be indexing with the popular kids some day soon!

19 replies
  1. Paul Montwill
    Paul Montwill says:

    Hamlet, you have just reminded me about one thing with this post – I have changed urls in my blog from .php to /%postname%/ and now Google have both pages in their index/cached. How shall I deal with this?

    And another thing, how is the tool you are working on? Is it the one you wrote about on SEOmoz.org with balancing the link juice and checking the logs?

  2. Florchakh
    Florchakh says:

    There is no need to check rankings in Yahoo and Live.com, in my humble opinion. Also I can say it's much better is to analyze domain popularity and link power in some seo tool, that's the way I foretell PageRank on all my sites =)

    • Tsim
      Tsim says:


      I would rather think of using a 301 redirect letting the bots know that the old url's have moved permanently to the new ones. What is the use of the 303?



    • Hamlet Batista
      Hamlet Batista says:

      There is no need to check rankings in Yahoo and Live.com, in my humble opinion.


      You do if you want to know how important your page is for the other search engines (YahooRank, MsnRank, etc.).

      Also I can say it’s much better is to analyze domain popularity and link power in some seo tool, that’s the way I foretell PageRank on all my sites =)

      That is the traditional approach. Search engines, especially Google, use so many variables Today that link counts are simply not enough. Please read this comment to my post about relevance feedback at Seomoz.

      Thanks for your feedback

      • Florchakh
        Florchakh says:

        Surely I agree with you, Hamlet. Your tip might be useful for a bunch of people, but it's a special case IMO. For consumer information, for e.g. ]:->

        When I optimize a site I don't focus on respective search engines, I just do as well I can and the only one thing I'm afraid of is getting damn sandbox…

        Aye, maybe that's why someone can "win" PR7 given to single page on PR3 domain name, for the reasons unknown =)

  3. Training
    Training says:

    You also need to be aware of whether or not you are pinging Google when you do a post and who you are pinging and how quickly they get picked up by Google. I have brand new or old sites with low to no PR and if I post and ping Google they come right away. I have seen the same with pinging other services that Google crawls very frequently. Indexing isn't too hard these days if you have a few decent links, ranking is the hard part.

  4. jane
    jane says:

    actually using sitemaps will shorten the time you'll be seen by google. I've made all of my pages indexed that way in a short time period.
    try using that tool…

    • Hamlet Batista
      Hamlet Batista says:


      Thanks for your comment. Excellent point. Please note that xml sitemaps attributes lastmod and changefreq; as well as the HTTP header If-Modified-Since, are primarily hints to the search engine crawlers. They are more likely to index you sooner if you set this parameters right, but they have their own crawling schedule. Change frequency being equal, they are more likely to crawl more often sites that get a lot of visits than sites that get very few.

    • Graham Taylor | tips
      Graham Taylor | tips says:

      Hi I have just found your site and I enjoyed reading the comments, I too have found that the google webmasters tools is the fastest way to get indexed, to build page rank I uses article submission to get large numbers of back links in as short a time as possible


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *