November 21, 2007

The Problem Of Fake Pagerank

The problem of fake pagerank has plagued Google for the past couple of years now. And google seems not too adamant about doing anything about this problem. Meanwhile thousands of people are being duped into buying domains and websites which seem to be very high quality but end up with buyer's remorse when they realize after a Google PR update that their PR had been faked. In this post I shall explorer how pagerank is faked and ways you can protect yourself from ever being conned by fake pagerank.

How Fake Pagerank Came To Be

It started with a Google pagerank feature of being able to point the googlebot to your new website in case you change your domain name. This is a problem that had stopped many webmasters from moving their websites to new better fitted domains for their websites. They didn't want to lose all of the precious pagerank they had attained over the years just so they can get a better domain. So the ever helpful Google came up with a seemingly easy solution. The answer: 301 or 302 redirects to the new domain. That way your old website would be redirected to your new one and your pagerank along with it. But one thing they didn't count on was the fact that this worked both ways. So now if your new website had a pagerank it would be transfered to your old domain.

The funny thing in all of this is of course the fact that the new website doesn't have to have your code in order to be fast forwarded to through a 301 or 302 redirect. SO in essence you can redirect to any website you wanted regardless of who owned it. So users started redirecting their unfinished or private websites to Google so as to make sure a visitor isn't disappointed by the default list of files. But something funny happened when they did this. When they checked their pagerank after a pagerank updated it had changed to 10 or Google's pagerank. This astounded some of these users and the news spread fast.

Now all kinds of people fast forwarded their domains to Google to try to get that PR10. It was quickly found out however that after the next update when you had removed your redirect to try to show off your allegedly PR10 website your web site's PR went back to zero. This made users shy away from using this method for a while. But then domain sellers caught wind of this and realized the potential for it. It went something like this. Buy a new domain redirect it and wait till it gets that PR10 then change it back to your website and sell it quick before the next PR update. And here is the current problem as they have gotten smarter and started redirecting to lower Pr websites such as PR4 to PR7. This made the PR more believable as only about 3 websites have PR10.

How To Detect a Fake Pagerank

This is relatively easy as long as the faker hasn't changed his website back to it's original and still has the redirect going. Or even if he just changed it recently and Google hasn't had a chance to update it's cache yet. Basically all you do is check the web site's cache in Google and check to see if it matches the website showing in your browser. If it doesn't match then the pagerank is faked. There even is some tools that have been recently made to check for this here's one:

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SEO tools by SEO tools by

Another method is to check the site's info: query in Google. If the result doesn't match the website then it's fake. Or sometimes if it doesn't have a result it's also fake. As it should since it has a pagerank. This method is relatively new however and for the most part hasn't been proven quite as much as the first one so be careful on making your final decision about a website.

And the last method that probably won't be of any use is to check the's archives.If you use to view the site's history and the address and the URL changes when you click to view a result, then the domain was being redirected on that date.

Example: on November 21 2007.

In this example the end of that URL changes to another domain name, meaning that on the date the site was archived the domain was being redirected.But the reason why I say this is just about useless is the fact that rarely archives any website except major websites. Which means any website in their archives is almost guaranteed to be reliable.

But remember none of these methods is 100% foolproof since the faker could have turned the redirect off earlier.

What To Do When You Find a Fake Pagerank

Immediately notify Google and send me a comment telling of how I saved you from buying a fake website.

So How Will The Problem of Fake Pagerank Be Solved

Well there are two ways this problem could be solved. Either Google can make sure the pagerank isn't transferred from the new website to the old or it can ban any website that sets a 301 or 302 redirect specifically for the googlebot. Since users who are moving their whole website don't need to just redirect the googlebot but the whole website itself.

Conclusion: The Problem Of Fake Pagerank

In conclusion this problem seems to be unsolvable unless caught at the right time. So the best thing one can do is make sure that when buying a website or domain you don't base your decision on pagerank. Do it like back in the old days when there was no pagerank and do some research on your own and and use pagerank as just another factor.

Thank You