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Fun with Google PageRank

Longtime firebreather and former managing editor Mark Gisleson is having a bit of sport with his old employer by noting its Google PageRank (4 of 10) is now lower than his one-man site’s (5). Gisleson claims once sported a 7, but has no screen shots.

Google PageRank is one of those black boxes I’ve never fully understood, but it basically measures how many people link to you, rather than pure readership. In other words, not popularity so much as influence — especially important since the rating affects your placement in Google’s search results.

Just out of curiosity, I decided to check the rankings of several local sites (and some national sites for context).

Keep in mind, we’re judging home pages and section fronts here. Most individual stories have too few links to get a Google PageRank, so if linkers bypass a home page, the site may seem unreasonably unpopular. Web managers can also manipulate their homepage rank by directing all internal pages to it.

There’s more explanation here and here. For you true math-heads, the scale is logarithmic, not geometric.

OK, here goes:


New York Times


Star Tribune
MinnPost (!)
Drudge Report

The Uptake
Minnesota Independent
Minnesota Democrats Exposed

Politics in Minnesota
Secrets of the City
Finance and Commerce

4 (Pioneer Press)
City Pages

City Pages Blotter
Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal

Counterintuitiveness abounds. MinnPost at the same level as the Drudge Report? Could it be Drudge is more about outbound than inbound links? The PiPress keeping company with City Pages at the bottom? (Note: Two corrections: MPR moved from 6 to 7, and Uptake from 4 to 6. I was using some inferior bookmarks.)

Tech savants, your insights welcome and appreciated in the comments.

Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by tim roman on 04/14/2009 - 12:57 pm.

    What’s a “City Pages?”

  2. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 04/14/2009 - 01:08 pm.

    Btw, I used to be a 6, and the Strib used to be an 8.

    I wish there was a way of finding out page rank history as I strongly suspect Ed Kohler’s Digg expose on City Pages may have cost them a lot of page rank cred.

  3. Submitted by Ed Kohler on 04/14/2009 - 02:10 pm.

    It’s a logarithmic and relative scale so you can have the same cred while falling on the scale if other sites become more credible than you (as measured by quantity and quality of inbound links).

    In the CityPages case, it’s only speculation, but they may have suffered a pagerank penalty for selling links for PageRank benefits. Here’s why that’s bad.

    Drudge doesn’t maintain archives, which makes it tough to link to his reporting.

  4. Submitted by Annalise Cudahy on 04/14/2009 - 02:12 pm.

    My humble blog is a 4. There was a time when I knew where there was a calculator that delivered a much-salivated-over decimal point, and I had a 4.4. There was hope for a 5 in the future, but alas it hasn’t happened yet.

    For CP to be a 4, well, it means that people aren’t linking to them. Their Alexa reach ranking, which is a proportional measure of traffic, is very similar to MinnPost – that correlates with what we already know. Both are about half the Pioneer Press and about 1/10th the Strib (and about 13x me, in case anyone cares).

  5. Submitted by Bob Collins on 04/14/2009 - 02:16 pm.

    I just checked my IE. It has mpr as a 7, not a 6. It has CP as a 4, Norwegianity as a 5, News Cut a 6 (if and when I beat the site, I’m asking for a raise).

    Someone without fear of losing their job should check to see what porn sites are more “important” than any of these.

  6. Submitted by Karl Singer on 04/14/2009 - 02:27 pm.

    You forgot with a page rank of 5. If we beat the PiPress we must count as media.

  7. Submitted by Kevin Brady on 04/14/2009 - 03:08 pm.

    The quality of inbound links plays a major role in determining one’s PR. A few links from high-ranking sites will give you better PR than a bunch of links from PR1 sites.

    Also, links from sites using the “nofollow” convention do not add to your Google juice. Thus, if you do a link exchange with another site, make sure they don’t have “nofollow” in their robots.txt file (easy to check – it’s usually in their root). Why give them a followed link when they don’t reciprocate?

    BTW, here is a neat little backlink checker:

  8. Submitted by Sheldon Mains on 04/15/2009 - 06:08 pm.

    Why didn’t you include Twin Cities Daily Planet ( in your analysis? It comes up at 6

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