Former Google Engineer: Google Hasn't Used PageRank Since 2006

Jul 16, 2019 • 7:47 am | comments (6) by | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Toolbar PageRank

A former Google engineer named Jonathan Tang (LinkedIn profile) who worked at Google on search between 2009 and 2014 said Google hasn't used PageRank since 2006. He said this in a Hacker News thread yesterday.

He said "The comments here that PageRank is Google's secret sauce also aren't really true - Google hasn't used PageRank since 2006. The ones about the search & clickthrough data being important are closer, but I suspect that if you made those public you still wouldn't have an effective Google competitor."

But didn't Gary Illyes from Google just say recently that Google does use PageRank even today?

The answer seems to be that PageRank has changed. Jonathan Tang added later that it was changed or upgraded:

They replaced it in 2006 with an algorithm that gives approximately-similar results but is significantly faster to compute. The replacement algorithm is the number that's been reported in the toolbar, and what Google claims as PageRank (it even has a similar name, and so Google's claim isn't technically incorrect). Both algorithms are O(N log N) but the replacement has a much smaller constant on the log N factor, because it does away with the need to iterate until the algorithm converges. That's fairly important as the web grew from ~1-10M pages to 150B+.

Here is how John Mueller of Google responded to this:

So Google is using something like PageRank, but not the exact original PageRank algorithm. I think we kind of knew that?

Forum discussion at Hacker News.

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