Page Rank is a topic much discussed by Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) experts. At the heart of PageRank is a mathematical formula that seems scary to look at but is actually fairly simple to understand.

Despite this many people seem to get it wrong! In particular “Chris Ridings of” has written a paper entitled “PageRank Explained: Everything you’ve always wanted to know about PageRank”, pointed to by many people, that contains a fundamental mistake early on in the explanation! Unfortunately this means some of the recommendations in the paper are not quite accurate.

By showing code to correctly calculate real PageRank I hope to achieve several things in this response:

  1. Clearly explain how PageRank is calculated.
  2. Go through every example in Chris’ paper, and add some more of my own, showing the correct PageRank for each diagram. By showing the code used to calculate each diagram I’ve opened myself up to peer review – mostly in an effort to make sure the examples are correct, but also because the code can help explain the PageRank calculations.
  3. Describe some principles and observations on website design based on these correctly calculated examples.

Any good web designer should take the time to fully understand how PageRank really works – if you don’t then your site’s layout could be seriously hurting your Google listings!

[Note: I have nothing in particular against Chris. If I find any other papers on the subject I’ll try to comment evenly]