For a long time, one of my pet peeves has been people who buy and sell domains based on tool bar page rank. First of all, Google doesn’t rank domains, they rank pages. That’s why they call it “Page rank”. There is no such thing as a “PR5 domain”, it’s a domain URL which resolves to a page with a Tool Bar page rank of PR5.
Second: Tool bar page rank (as opposed to Google’s internal page rank – information to which only Google is privy) is just a reflection of inbound links and has only a tenuous relationship to actual search results. Think about it. A page can be a top, trusted resource in a search for “oranges” yet not even show up in the SERPS (search engine results pages) for “ipods” (and rightly so). There’s no way to show that relevance via the static tool bar PR display.
And, because it is based on backlinks, Toolbar page rank can be faked (spoofed). The most common way to do that is by using a 302 (temporary redirect) to redirect the URL for the domain to a page with higher page rank.
There are tools to detect this kind of spoofing, however none of the tools I know of can detect what I call “2nd generation spoofed pagerank”. This is when the domain itself isn’t redirected, however the inbound links which give it page rank are themselves spoofed!
It pays to be suspicious when:
- A newly-registered domain (< 6 months) has an unusually high page rank
- The domain only has a couple of backlinks (they could be perfectly legitimate, but it pays to check them out).
- The domain has little or no Alexa rank or the seller is reluctant to provide traffic or revenue stats. Again, things may be perfectly fine, but buyer beware.
My advice? When it comes to buying domains, buy for traffic, buy for revenue, buy to develop or resell, buy because you just like the name! But when it comes to buying domains strictly for page rank, be prepared to do your homework … or just say no!
[tags]domains, page rank, scams, false page rank, tbpr, pr, google[/tags]