The MSN PageRank 2 Controversy & Search Engines Needing To Offer Domain Management Tools

As part of the current Google update underway, it's been noticed that MSN now has a PageRank score of 2. What's the deal, Google -- decide to pull a little love away from MSN? Not so, says Google's Matt Cutts -- they're actually a PR8. Then why do you see a PR2 score when you go to MSN? Let's break it down, as well as revisit the oft-desired need for search engines to allow site owners to tell them directly which domains should be treated as the same.

  • Visit MSN at with the Google Toolbar installed, and you'll see a PR2 score reported.
  • down to pagerank 2! at WebmasterWorld has some of the discussion this sparked, where the anonymous GoogleGuy from Google puts the blame on redirection that MSN is doing. Look at, and you'll see a PR8 score is reported, we're told.
  • OK, but if you try that, you get redirected to, where it's still PR2.
  • Answer? You need to get the Google PageRank score for in another way than trying to reach that page, since the redirection will send you to what's technically a different page, the home page of
  • How? Google's Matt Cutts, posting over Threadwatch and sounding pretty in sync with GoogleGuy, explains that is a PR8 site and points to the Future PageRank checker at SEO Tools as a way to see this.

    (At this point, you're asking "Isn't Matt Cutts GoogleGuy?" For the record, Matt's never publicly laid claim to being GoogleGuy. But since Matt's more active on commenting with things these days, I think it's well time that GoogleGuy step forward with a real name, so that if they are one and the same, there's isn't confusion that two different people are talking.

    Honestly, at some point we'll have someone citing GoogleGuy, then someone citing Matt against GoogleGuy, which is absurd if they are the same. I and many others do know the real identity of GoogleGuy. I think it's well time everyone knows and hope GoogleGuy will step forward).
  • Run a test for using the checker, and you'll get a list of the PageRank scores reported by various Google datacenters, including the server that feeds the toolbar display. All of them are PR8.
  • Again, you can't see these scores showing up in your browser when trying to go to, because you get redirected to, which has a different PR score.

All this brings us back to the issue of redirection. MSN is doing a 302 temporary redirect from to, which can confuse search engines into knowing if they should be treated at the same site. A 301 permanent redirect would be preferred.

But more preferred than that, life would be a lot easier if site owners could simply register all the various domains that may resolve to their "main" domain with Google and other search engines, rather than them having to guess.

People have been wanting this for ages. C'mon Google and Yahoo! You've both made moves to let us submit sitemaps and URLs to be crawled. Let's get with it so we can register domains with you and how they should be treated through some type of program. It so long overdue. That's especially so given that after the last indexing summit, as I've written, the search engines were unable to unify on any common treatment of dealing with redirects.

About the author

Danny Sullivan was the founder and editor of Search Engine Watch from June 1997 until November 2006.

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