Posted on 14 January 2012.
PageRank: Wikipedia: Principles of PageRank
A PageRank results from a mathematical algorithm based on the graph, 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.
There are a lot of forums and domain selling sites that are offering high PageRank domains for sale, but are they really high PageRank? There is a loophole in Google’s algorithm that scammers can game to make it appear that any domain has a high PageRank. These scammers simply redirect the domain with a 301 redirect to a high PageRank site and the redirected domain will pick up PageRank of the site that it is redirected to. There are numerous ways to do this. Some use cloaking to redirect it only when a Googlebot visits the site and some simply use a 301 redirect.
They then remove the redirect just prior to putting it up for sale. The unsuspecting buyer purchases a domain that he thinks has high PageRank and will give him a boost in the serps. The scammer could also be faking the PageRank in order to sell links on “high PageRank” sites.
Digitial Point forums has a domain selling section of their marketplace with quite a few “high PageRank” domains for sale. Take for example, this one: betsafesverige.com on this page http://forums.digitalpoint.com/showthread.php?t=2375739. I ran this one through a rank checker at http://www.rankchecker.com. See in the screenshot below that it says the PageRank is valid. However, there are ZERO backlinks to the site in any of the search engines, the Alexa rating is very high, it’s not listed in DMOZ, and it has only one parked page listed in Google. The person who buys this domain will have a ZERO PageRank on their hands by the next time Google’s PageRank changes.
Here’s another interesting Digital Point forums scammer selling a fake PageRank domain, http://www.coolestaudiobooks.com/ at this listing: http://forums.digitalpoint.com/showthread.php?t=2373472. Take a look at the blog below with one post, Hello World.
This little gem allegedly has a PageRank 6. All that and ZERO backlinks anywhere, one Hello World post, Alexa rating through the roof, not listed in DMOZ or Yahoo. It’s not rocket science. If this site is really a PageRank 6, then PageRank is truly meaningless. Checked it at a PageRank Checker here, and you can see it says the PageRank is valid. Another interesting thing about this domain, when you search for the domain in Google using site:coolestaudiobooks.com, and then click on the Cache, you get a 404 Not Found error. Previously, one way to tell if a domain had fake PageRank was to check the Google cache and the cache would be the real site with the PageRank that the domain had been redirected to. That can’t be relied on as a way to check for fake PageRank, since this one has no cache and the one above this one is showing the correct domain in the cache. I can only assume that these scammers have found a way to get around the Google cache thing.
There are a ton more for sale on Digital Point that are highly suspicious. Exercise extreme caution when buying a domain from there with PageRank or anywhere else for that matter. Before I was aware of the fake PageRank scams out there, I bought one on Flippa that was fake and the PageRank rapidly disappeared after I bought the domain.
Before buying a domain that allegedly has PageRank, check it here and use whatever your favorite tools are to check for backlinks. If, like the site above, it has one Hello World post in a blog, and no backlinks, I would advise you not to buy that domain. If it has just one parked page and no backlinks, same thing. PageRank is assigned to pages, not domains and if that domain has no real pages (just a parked page or Hello World post), common sense will tell you that the PageRank is fake.
How Important is PageRank?
PageRank played a much larger role when Google was first launched than it does today. When Google was launched, there were just a few dozen ranking factors that were considered in Google’s algorithm, so each one carried more weight than they do today. Today there are over 200 ranking factors considered when ranking websites, so each ranking factors carries a lot less weight than they did previously.