Written by Chris Richardson for WebProNews
One of the more important tasks in relation to search engine indices involves the keeping this content fresh and up to date. To accomplish this, search engines have developed a number of procedures designed to refresh and update their respective databases. In all likelihood, the most popular of these events has to be when Google performs a backlink and PageRank update, which happens throughout the year at determined intervals.
Because the different types of backlinks pointing at a site directly affect PageRank, these updates tend to go hand-in-hand; and while these events may not generate the excitement they once did, the search engine optimization community does take notice when Google carries out these updates. For those who may not be aware, Google uses PageRank to provide a type of “quality score” for web pages in their index.
In order to view the PageRank of web page, you have to have the Google Toolbar installed. The toolbar contains a PageRank score, provided in the form of a green bar, for each page being visited. PageRank measures on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 (a full green bar) being the highest.
As mentioned, because backlinks play such an important part with PR scores, these types of updates usually take place at the same time. A backlink update is where Google actively revises the amount of links pointing to a site, while discounting links they consider to be old and/or aged. Because backlinks are considered such a valuable commodity, whenever an update is being conducted, those who depend on search as a key component of their ecommerce lives watch the results with loads of interest.
One of the standard practices when a backlink update is being conducted is to visit the various Google datacenters and perform backlink checks on their site in order to see if there have been any drastic changes. According to SearchEngineRoundtable, currently, the following Google datacenters have been affected by these updates:
In order to see if the backlink update has affected your site, visit any of the datacenters (as well as the standard Google.com page) and perform a backlink check using the following command:
However, it is important to remember Google only provides a cross-section of the backlinks pointing to the site; they do not show a comprehensive list. Be that as it may, whenever Google issues updates affecting their search index, people who follow-up do indeed notice changes, especially if they are considered negative.
A good place to follow when Google updates occur is WebmasterWorld. Here readers can get a good idea how other people may have been affected by the particular update being monitored. This is also a great place to get tips and tricks on how to conduct further research to see if you gained more backlinks pointing at your site. Fortunately, PageRank increases (or decreases) are easier to observe thanks to the Google Toolbar and the imbedded green PageRank score bar.
Another interesting thing to do is to navigate around and find out if any of the major sites experienced PageRank reductions or increases, especially with sites having a PageRank of 10. Because of the way Google scores using PageRank, only a certain number of sites have acquired this score, with one of the most famous being Apple’s main site.
However, when I checked Apple.com this morning, I noticed the PageRank box was grayed-out; an indication the site has no PageRank information. However, if you navigate to the iTunes/iPod portion of the Apple’s site, the PR score is a full 10, as are most of the sections. On the other hand, the .Mac portion of the Apple.com has a 0 for its PageRank score (a white PR box); although, a quick look at the link structure of this page may shed some light as to why:
Because the link structure has changed from when the .Mac portion had a 10 ranking, it appears as if these changes has affected the way the PR score is being passed on to this particular section.
All in all, this appears to be one of the milder updates, at least reaction-wise. WebmasterWorld has its normal commentary, but a lot of other forums seem to be paying only passing lip service to the events that began over the Labor Day weekend.