Toolbar Page Rank versus Live Page Rank

Everyone obsesses on the public page rank that Google calculates once a quarter or so, to the point of actively seeking links from high PR sites in order to increase their PR at the next update. That quarterly PR is known as toolbar PR, because that’s what shows in the Google toolbar for pages you’re viewing.

In fact, toolbar PR is a nearly useless metric.

PR does play a part in search engine result positioning, but that’s live PR, not toolbar PR. Live PR is continually adjusted by Google as they crawl the web.

When I posted about doing reviews of Online Opportunity in exchange for a backlink from a PR 0 blog, that was tongue in cheek. My toolbar PR is 0 because the blog started just about when the last PR update happened. But my live PR is higher, because I’ve been accumulating backlinks all along. Since it’s live PR that helps in search engine results positioning, a link from Online Opportunity is a good thing.

How good? That’s the part we don’t know yet. The only value of toolbar PR is to give you an idea what the live PR for a site was during the last PR update. For established sites, you can be relatively confident that the live PR of the site is right around the toolbar PR. For new sites, toolbar PR is not a reliable indicator of the site’s live PR.

So in addition to the review for backlink offer, I’m going to start a contest. Predict the toolbar PR of Online Opportunity at the next update (probably in August or September), and win a prize! Enter the contest by leaving a comment on this post with your prediction.

Since there are only eleven possible answers to the question, it’s likely we’ll have multiple winners. So the prize has to be something that can be provided to multiple people.

Any suggestions?

10 Replies to “Toolbar Page Rank versus Live Page Rank”

  1. My guess is 5. As for the prize, since it’s all about PR, maybe a link to the winners.

    Toolbar PR actually has a use: I remember reading that TLA and ReviewMe use a minimum PR as one of the requirements to accept new publishers.

  2. Ronald, you’re right, in the interest of fairness I should have added that toolbar PR *is* used as part of estimating the value of your site to an advertiser for such services as TLA, ReviewMe, Pay Per Post, etc.

    But that’s only because we can’t get at live PR, which is really the metric advertisers would use if they could. Traffic stats come closer to doing this than toolbar PR, and are also used by some advertisers in conjunction with toolbar PR.

  3. [quote post=”162″]My guess is 5. As for the prize, since it’s all about PR, maybe a link to the winners.[/quote]

    I thought about that, but wasn’t sure how that would be different than the winners doing a review and getting a backlink that way. Maybe the winners would get a link in a post designed to increase their relevancy for a given keyword, rather than lumped together in a review page?

    I also considered putting the winners into a working group for a case study on developing a site for monetization, but not everyone will have the free time to put the energy into it.

    If I was running ads I’d share revenue among the winners for the next quarter. But without ads that’s a bit meaningless. 😉


  4. I didn’t know if this contest is still on but since you haven’t updated it, I am guessing that it is. My guess would be a 4PR . I am going to laugh if it is higher. It probably will be but for playing sake, I am going to stick to it. I don’t really know of a suggestion to a prize so I am going to leave this up to you and everyone else.

  5. [quote post=”162″]I’m also at zero, having started 2.5 months ago. I’d be happy for anything non-zero, I think.[/quote]

    I’d say you’re guaranteed to get something non-zero with the next update, with whatever links you’d naturally accumulate by networking.

  6. Or simply, “you exist.”

    For years, I’ve been surfing the web without caring about the pagerank. As a surfer, I never understood it. It didn’t matter at all.

    Suddenly, after a couple of months of blogging, I’m noticing it on everyone’s sites. I still don’t understand how it’s calculated.

    I know it’s a proprietary algorithm, but I’d expect to have some feel for which sites would have a higher page rank. I’m often surprised at smallish-seeming sites with a PR of 8 or 9, or well established, high content sites with lots of traffic that hang out around 2 or 3.

  7. Page rank is entirely based on inbound links. A small site with tons of links to it will have a high PR, and a large, high traffic site that has few links will have a low PR.

    That’s one of the reasons that PR isn’t that important. It’s one factor in search engine optimization, but not the most important. It is the most visible, though.

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