If you use the Google Toolbar, you may well be familiar with Google PageRank as you can see the rank of any site in your toolbar. The toolbar PageRank was usually updated every three months, but we have not yet seen an update since April-almost five months ago now!
For many newer sites, this has been rather disappointing (here at Blogger Buster, for example, we still have a PageRank of 0, despite efforts to improve this). So why is this update taking so long, and when can we expect to see an update?
PageRank is the status given to sites by Google which can help web-users understand their importance. Rank is determined on a scale of 0-10 with a rank of ten being attained only by sites such as Google Yahoo and MSN. IOt has long been understood that if you can acquire backlinks from high ranking sites, your own site's PR will in turn be improved, since effectively the higher PR site will be "endorsing" the content of your own.
However, many services have taken this too far, offering paid backlinks which have no real relevance to the quality of a site's content. Of course, Google do not like this as it means bad quality (and even spam) websites could achieve a much higher PageRank than they really deserve.
So, for this PageRank update, Google seem to be making changes to the algorythms used in deciding PageRank in order to be fair to the sites which deserve it, and lowering the PR of sites which use paid links or attempt to cheat the system.
Here's the good news
Although we are only able to see changes in PageRank using the Google Toolbar (or sites such as the BB Tools PR Checker), PageRank is updated very frequently indeed. This is altered in Googles internal PageRank system, and can be reflected in the search results pages when doing a Google search.
Sites which previously had a PR of "n/a" because they were so new may now have a PR of 0 instead, which usually means that they will be given a more appropriate PageRank in an imminent update.
The general consensus of sites I have read when researching this post is that the next PR update will happen rather soon, though it's anyone's guess when a subsequent update will happen.
In the long run, I'm sure that the updates to the existing PR allocation system will work better for us all: quality content-driven sites will be awarded a higher PageRank than those which don't deserve a second glance!
For those of you who are (like me) impatient to see a PageRank update, I found a useful PageRank prediction tool over at iwebtool.com. This uses the number of backlinks to your site to provide a prediction of your PageRank for the next Google update. Unlike other similar tools, this one does not require that you already have a PageRank to offer a prediction, and also offers a percentage of accuracy for the prediction. Blogger Buster, for example, has been predicted to have a PageRank of 3-4 with a percentage accuracy of 86%.
Have a try with your own blog URLs and let me know what you think. I will of course post when Google do finally update PageRank, and will continue to twiddle my thumbs until then!