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If you have followed any professional sports league such as the National Hockey League over the past few years, you have no doubt heard of the phrase “salary cap”. While a salary cap is not associated with professional sports leagues exclusively the term has dominated sports leagues during recent years. Even Wikipedia defines a salary cap as it relates to sports as a limit on the amount of money a team can spend on player salaries, either as a per-player limit or a total limit for the team's roster (or both). The fact is that a salary cap is a cap or a restriction.
This got me thinking about search engines and whether they have “results caps” or “ranking caps” with regards to their organic listings in the SERPs. More specifically this got me wondering about Google and if they implement a page rank cap. Know I know everyone is moaning and groaning…here we go with that Page Rank thing again. Many believe that page rank is dead and that we spend too much time worrying about it. Even Matt Cutts suggests not focusing on Page Rank too much. The thing is that I am curious as to if Google does indeed use a Page Rank Cap.
With the recent release of page rank predictor tools, which I question how they can be even remotely accurate, my theory of a Page Rank Cap can be somewhat supported. Here’s why…
I used a couple of these page rank predictor tools to see what the future Page Rank of SEO-Space will be. The tools basically work like this - the tools query Google's various data centers to check for any changes in PageRank value for a given URL. For the most part usually all data centers will output the same, but if queried during an update, there are those who have stated that you may get a glimpse of any upcoming changes in your chosen URL's PageRank value. So having run a couple of these tools on SEO-Space, it appears that I am destined for a PR of 4. Hmmm ok that is fine, the blog is fairly new to the online universe, it is blogger based and I have a limited inventory of external links. PR of 4 I can live with that, but what was of interest is that a blog of my co-workers that has been around a lot longer, has a higher number of quality backlinks and great content is expected to have a PR of 3. What is more interesting is that another co-worker recently started a blog and using the page rank prediction tool her blog is expected to inherit a PR of 5. While her blog is informative it is very new and lacks the external link inventory of warranting a PR of 5. So while I don’t trust the accuracy of these page rank prediction tools in the slightest, they do make me wonder if Google does use some sort of Page Rank Cap. You see all three of these blogs mentioned focus on different topics and all three have potentially different page ranks.
This is not the first time that I have wondered about a Page Rank Cap. In my experience I have seen what I perceive to be page ranks caps. It appears that with certain industries, Google tends to cap Page Rank for sites in those industries. I’m not referring to .org’s, .edu’s or .gov’s… just the regular .com’s or the like. For example it appears that dental related sites appear to be capped at PR 4 with the odd 5 or higher site (of course there are exceptions to all rules). I’ve seen sites in niche markets capped at 6 or 7. Again the issue of a Page Rank Cap is just for my own curiosity as I am by no means suggesting that Page Rank should be considered a main focal point of a meaningful SEO/SEM campaign.
Personally, I think that Google deploys a definite Page Rank Cap. While others may dispute this claim, it is something to think about. Hmm and speaking of caps, I wonder if Google employees have a salary cap? Caps are not always a good thing as any hockey fan will tell you with the entire 2004/05 NHL season being cancelled. A Page Rank Cap on the other hand wouldn’t be that big of a deal as many are no longer focusing on Page Rank.
Do you think Google use a Page Rank Cap? Take the Google Page Rank Cap Poll now.