PageRank (PR) is an algorithm used by Google Search to rank web pages in their search engine results. PageRank was named after Larry Page, one of the founders of Google. PageRank is a way of measuring the importance of website pages. According to Google:

PageRank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites.

Currently, PageRank is not the only algorithm used by Google to order search results, but it is the first algorithm that was used by the company, and it is the best known.

PageRank is a link analysis algorithm and it assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of "measuring" its relative importance within the set. The algorithm may be applied to any collection of entities with reciprocal quotations and references. The numerical weight that it assigns to any given element E is referred to as the PageRank of E and denoted by {\displaystyle PR(E).} PR(E).

A PageRank results from a mathematical algorithm based on the webgraph, created by all World Wide Web pages as nodes and hyperlinks as edges, taking into consideration authority hubs such as cnn.com or usa.gov. The rank value indicates an importance of a particular page. A hyperlink to a page counts as a vote of support. The PageRank of a page is defined recursively and depends on the number and PageRank metric of all pages that link to it ("incoming links"). A page that is linked to by many pages with high PageRank receives a high rank itself.

Numerous academic papers concerning PageRank have been published since Page and Brin's original paper. In practice, the PageRank concept may be vulnerable to manipulation. Research has been conducted into identifying falsely influenced PageRank rankings. The goal is to find an effective means of ignoring links from documents with falsely influenced PageRank.

Other link-based ranking algorithms for Web pages include the HITS algorithm invented by Jon Kleinberg (used by Teoma and now Ask.com),the IBM CLEVER project, the TrustRank algorithm and the Hummingbird algorithm.

The PageRank algorithm outputs a probability distribution used to represent the likelihood that a person randomly clicking on links will arrive at any particular page. PageRank can be calculated for collections of documents of any size. It is assumed in several research papers that the distribution is evenly divided among all documents in the collection at the beginning of the computational process. The PageRank computations require several passes, called "iterations", through the collection to adjust approximate PageRank values to more closely reflect the theoretical true value.

A probability is expressed as a numeric value between 0 and 1. A 0.5 probability is commonly expressed as a "50% chance" of something happening. Hence, a PageRank of 0.5 means there is a 50% chance that a person clicking on a random link will be directed to the document with the 0.5 PageRank.

Mathematical Page Ranks for a simple network, expressed as percentages. (Google uses a logarithmic scale.) Page C has a higher PageRank than Page E, even though there are fewer links to C; the one link to C comes from an important page and hence is of high value. If web surfers who start on a random page have an 85% likelihood of choosing a random link from the page they are currently visiting, and a 15% likelihood of jumping to a page chosen at random from the entire web, they will reach Page E 8.1% of the time. (The 15% likelihood of jumping to an arbitrary page corresponds to a damping factor of 85%.) Without damping, all web surfers would eventually end up on Pages A, B, or C, and all other pages would have PageRank zero. In the presence of damping, Page A effectively links to all pages in the web, even though it has no outgoing links of its own.