How Long Does it Take to See PageRank Changes?

This is a common question. I got it again today from an OptiSmarts subscriber:

I’ve found a lot of PR5 pages (and a few PR6 pages) on [my site] that don’t link to the homepage. I’ve now changed that and added nofollow to the unimportant links. What kind of a boost can I expect the homepage to get from, say 20 PR5 internal pages and a few PR6 pages pointing at it? Will I notice a difference?

That’s really three questions.

First, yes, you will notice a difference. All PR is additive so more is always "a good thing" but you might not notice it on the Google toolbar, because it is such a coarse measure. And with your existing home page PR of 6, the next step up at 7 is a very long way. But don’t let that stop you from optimizing it, because it is the "real" number that is used internally at Google, and 6.2 is still better than 6.1.

Which leads us to the next question: how much boost should I expect. There’s no tellin’. The SEO game is really just about going in the right direction and stopping when you get there. Figuring an ETA while enroute is not generally possible.

Which leads to the final question: when should I see the change? And that’s the worst news of all I’m afraid :-(. PageRank is the slowest changing aspect of Google ranking. I routinely see the PR on client sites take 3-6 months to adjust to major internal linking changes. It will not take that long when done from scratch — there I can usually get PR in 60 days — so it is the rearrangement of PR that takes serious time. Here’s part of the reason why.

I’m sure everyone has noticed pages in the Google index that have been 404 for 6-9 months and they are still cached and showing PR. Google appears reluctant to drop a page once it is indexed. Since the distribution of PR within your site is all about the way pages are linked together, your changes will not be complete until Google gets its entire picture of your site changed, missing pages, new pages, changed links and all. So long as the "old stuff" is hanging around, Google’s image of your site will be different than your new site design.

So, the simple answer to all of this is, just do it right and wait it out.

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