Scott Hanselman

Google PageRanks considered subtle

February 21, '07 Comments [17] Posted in Musings
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I did not know my Google PageRank until Phil mentioned it to me a while back. Apparently it's like the Richter (not Jeffrey Richter) scale in that a Page Rank of 6 is 10 times "better" than a Page Rank of 5, if I understand correctly.

Someone approached me to do advertising on the site, and since the bandwidth bill is due, I quoted a price I though was reasonable. She said, "but you only have a Page Rank of 5." This, for a moment, I become aware of this number since this advertiser cared.

I looked in the Google Toolbar and saw this:

Ok, looks like my Page Rank is 5, seems reasonable. However, later I noticed that if I was at (note the lack of default.aspx) the Page Rank was 6. Seems like even though the home page is the home page, if there's a default.aspx at the end, that's a less "powerful" page.

I can only assume that more folks link to than to the page with default.aspx. Apparently 10 times more, which seems reasonable.

I mentioned this to Phil who said, "weird, let me try" and sent me this screenshot where his Toolbar says my page is a 7. If I understand it, that's 100 times more shiny than a 5. Or, just +2. Who knows.

if Google's PageRank system is this subtle, and URIs aren't well canonicalized in their system then what's the point, Dear Reader? I know not. Seems like voodoo to me.

UPDATE: This post on the WebMaster group in response to another user says:

The page rank you see is not the pagerank Google uses.

- The pagerank you see is exported 3-4x/year

- It is "guessed" at whenever the page did not have a pagerank back
then. So if you have a "toolbar pagerank" (the one you see) TBPR 3 for
your homepage, and add a new sub-page, it will guess your sub-page to
be (perhaps) PR2, even though it doesn't have a real value for it yet.

- It is page-based ("page" rank :-)), not domain / site based

- Your sites internal interlinking structures determine how pagerank is
distributed among the pages - in the simplistic example where you have
a single page with is fed with pagerank (from the outside), you could
determine how that pagerank is spread among your pages based on the
link-structure in your site. You'll likely just give up if you have
more than 5 pages though :-) - it's not worth it.

- Your example with the homepage with a high PR and the other pages
having lower PR is perfectly normal and could be a "steady state"

Interesting stuff.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007 8:07:48 PM UTC
Checking your pagerank with the page rank checker website ( says it is a 7/10, but adding the default.aspx gives it a 5/10.

I found a similar situation with Technorati where they have two blogs for me one at and another at They each have seperate ratings and posts show up differently between the two of them. I've contacted them about it but got no response.

Seems strange that companies tracking things like this don't pay more attention to default.aspx!
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 8:17:15 PM UTC
Completely agree! Just point your potential advertiser to the post and tell them you have a page rank of 7!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 10:52:00 PM UTC
This is kinda silly, but if you do a 301 redirect (not a 302 which is temp, but a perm "this content has moved") in the page when default.aspx is NOT found, this will clear up. It will also change the client url to add the Default.aspx, but that is fairly minor. I guess you could also redirect backwards from the Default.aspx -> just the slash.

Just a thought,

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 11:33:34 PM UTC
Your PR is definitely 7. Not sure why IE google toolbar was showing 6. Backlink count is ~7,000 which is the primary determinant of PR (and quality, but quantity follows quality in all cases; nobody has five PR 10 links).

Default.aspx is another reason to consider URL rewriting. A few of my rewrite rules relative to PR:

- I don't allow links to come in as, I add the www. if it is not there. (un-thanks to Phil Haack!)
- I remove index.html if it is present

Consistency is the name of the game. Never have more than one "name" for a URL.
Thursday, February 22, 2007 12:01:09 AM UTC
There's a really good post about page rank on the spider-food forums:
Thursday, February 22, 2007 12:22:43 AM UTC
I see you as 7/10...
Thursday, February 22, 2007 12:59:03 AM UTC
You could point out to the advertiser that you have the highest PageRank of all .NET "personal pages" on the Web:
Thursday, February 22, 2007 1:06:26 AM UTC
Interesting stuff...thanks, AnotherPhil.

JeffA - I added this file with ISAPI_REWRITE, and it seems to have canonicalized my default page.


RewriteRule /blog/default\.aspx http\:// [I,RP]

RewriteCond Host: ^hanselman\.com
RewriteRule (.*) http\://$1 [I,RP]

RewriteCond Host: ^computerzen\.com
RewriteRule (.*) http\://$1 [I,RP]

Thursday, February 22, 2007 3:36:43 AM UTC
I guess I am stumped by the whole thought that advertising value somehow changes because you are more/less popular. The real measure of ad effectiveness is how many people click on the ad and ultimately purchase the advertiser's product/service. This brings me back to a comment by Stephen Kaufer from in the book "Founders at Work". When they were selling ads for other travel sites they had a very high conversion rate on click-throughs because the ads were highly targeted and contextual so that whenever someone clicked on an ad it was because they were highly interested in purchasing the travel package being advertised. From my perspective, you could have a page-rank of 1 and if you sent 100 users every month to the advertiser's site, then that is worth more than someone with a page rank of 9 who sends 50 visitors. You might have a pagerank of 1 and are selling space in the upper-left corner of the page, versus someone with a pagerank of 9 who is selling space in the right column and 3 pages down. Setting ad-rates based on pagerank alone assumes that every website's users are equally motivated to purchase any given vendor's products and it assumes that all locations on a page are equal. In the end the advertiser can always drop the ad if they are not seeing results, and that is what really matters. Give them a reasonable rate and tell them that you will renegotiate if they are unhappy with the results.
Thursday, February 22, 2007 4:18:37 AM UTC
Well said Joe - I was a little disappointed that folks cared that much about PageRank. It's all black magic to me, this whole SEO thing...
Thursday, February 22, 2007 3:33:27 PM UTC
The problem with cannonizing \blogs\default.aspx to \blogs\ is that Google has no way of knowing what you default page is. If you were to add a index.htm to your \blogs\ folder, suddenly \blogs\ and \blogs\default.aspx become distinct pages.
Thursday, February 22, 2007 4:43:47 PM UTC
James, that sounds like a good thing, in that that is the behavior I want. If I move my blog to, say, Rails, I don't want to have to have a default.aspx "shim" left over.
Scott Hanselman
Thursday, February 22, 2007 6:49:21 PM UTC
> I guess I am stumped by the whole thought that advertising value somehow changes because you are more/less popular.

It's another high score table.

But this one is different because a higher value means more real world money. Not that I care, because I won't ever run ads.
Friday, February 23, 2007 12:16:05 AM UTC
That was exactly my point Jeff. Paying more for ads because of a high pagerank is like paying more for ads because Scott earned all 1000 gamer points in Oblivion (I have to admit I only earned 690). Neither high-score system is indicative of how successful an ad campaign will be on a specific site for a specific product. For all the advertiser knows the only people who visit Scott's site are a bunch of gamer has-beens and Swahili speaking diabetics.
Friday, February 23, 2007 12:17:11 AM UTC

...bunch of gamer has-beens and Swahili speaking diabetics

Monday, March 12, 2007 8:40:06 PM UTC
Good article.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007 11:49:06 PM UTC
a good pagerank doesn't mean that the page is good too...
Comments are closed.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.