By:Phil Craven, Published:2003-08-7

Dangling links

pagerank, page rank

“Dangling links are simply links that point
to any page with no outgoing links. They affect
the model because it is not clear where their
Lose Weight Exercise should be distributed, and there are a
large number of them. Often these dangling links
are simply pages that we have not downloaded yet……….Because
dangling links do not affect the ranking of any
other page directly, we simply remove them from
the system until all the PageRanks are calculated.
After all the PageRanks are calculated they can
be added back in without affecting things significantly.”

– extract from the original PageRank paper by
Google’s founders, Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page.

A dangling link is a link to a page that has no links going from it, or a link to a page that Google hasn’t indexed. In both cases Google removes the links shortly after the start of the calculations and reinstates them shortly before the calculations are finished. In this way, their effect on the PageRank of other pages in minimal.

The results shown in Example 2 (right diag.) are wrong because page B has no links going from it, and so the link from page A to page B is dangling and would be removed from the calculations. The results of the calculations would show all three pages as having 0.15.

It may suit site functionality to link to pages that have no links going from them without losing any PageRank from the other pages but it would be waste of potential PageRank. Take a look at this example. The site’s potential is 5 because it has 5 pages, but without page E linked in, the site only has 4.15.

Link page A to page E and click Calculate. Notice that the site’s total has gone down very significantly. But, because the new link is dangling and would be removed from the calculations, we can ignore the new total and assume the previous 4.15 to be true. That’s the effect of functionally useful, dangling links in the site. There’s no overall PageRank loss.

However, some of the site’s potential total is still being wasted, so link Page E back to Page A and click Calculate. Now we have the maximum PageRank that is possible with 5 pages. Nothing is being wasted.

Although it may be functionally good to link to pages within the site without those pages linking out again, it is bad for PageRank. It is pointless wasting PageRank unnecessarily, so always make sure that every page in the site links out to at least one other page in the site.

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