PageRank was once the main metric used by many SEO tools/services to gauge how powerful a domain/page is. PR updating was discontinued a while back, but the numbers were still accessible and relied on. toolbarqueries.google.com was then disabled by Google in 2016, no longer allowing PageRank to be queried. Since the time PR stopped updating, many new services emerged with new metrics as a replacement: Majestic, Moz, Ahrefs, SEMRush, etc. While we will never know exactly how Google views domains/pages, these new services at least give us a ballpark number to go by for SEO. Certain tools heavily relied on PageRank such as GSA Search Engine Ranker; one of the best backlinking tools. After toolbarqueries.google.com was disabled, GSA PR Emulator was released. Designed mainly for GSA SER, GSA PRE is a tool used to intercept PageRank API requests by and SEO software and output a emulated PR based upon different SEO metrics of your choosing. This makes for a nice replacement for PageRank in order to get an idea how powerful domains/pages are for backlinking. In this post, we’re going to take a close look at GSA PR Emulator.
Here is GSA PRE out of the box:
First, let’s take a look at the “Map Google Page Rank to” section.
When requests come into the tool, the domain/page in question will be queried on one of the services in this option. Based upon the result, a emulated PR will be set and returned to the software the original request was sent from. As of now, there are three services available: Yandex, AlexaTrafficRank, SEMRushRank. Majestic used to be available, but was discontinued.
Yandex the top Russian search engine and uses the metrics IC and TIC. GSA PRE used TIC (Thematic Citation Index). The TIC score is based upon the credibility of domain/page. The credibility is based upon the quality of the backlinks and the similarity in content of the backlinks. The total weights of the backlinks results in the TIC score. TIC score goes from 0 to 10,000. The higher, the better. Unlike many services, the TIC score is just for the domain and does not take specific pages into consideration. To read more about TIC, check out this page directly from Yandex.
Alexa Traffic Rank
Alexa is a company that provides traffic analytics and data for websites. The metric used by GSA PRE is Alexa Traffic Rank. Alexa’s rankings are calculated based upon the unique visitors and page-views a website gets over a period of 3 months. This metric is update daily and goes from 1 to the millions. Similar to Yandex TIC, this metric is for the domain itself; not covering pages. To read more, check out this page directly from Alexa.
SEMRush is an all-in-one SEO service providing keyword research, domain analysis, competition analysis, and bunch of other SERP data. SEMRush uses a metric called SEMRush Rank. SEMRush Rank is based upon organic rankings/search traffic and the value of paid traffic. The scale goes from 1 to 100,000 with 1 being the best. To understand it better, check out this page directly from SEMRush.
Each service has a range map. Once you choose a service from the dropdown, you can click “Edit Ranges” to see the map for that service.
For example, for Alexa, the default is to set a rank of 100 or lower to a PR of 10, a rank of 101 – 500 as a PR of 9, etc.
Here are the defaults for Alexa:
The defaults for Yandex:
The defaults for SEMRush:
These values can be adjusted based on your preference.
In the center of the main window is the data table displaying the emulated PR results:
We have three columns: “URL “, “Emu-PR“, and the service’s rank. The “Emu-PR” is the emulated PageRank, and the service’s rank is the actual ranking of the domain/page according to the chosen service. As you can, we used Alexa’s Traffic Rank for this example. All four domains resulted in an emulated PR of 10 based on the “Edit Ranges” map for Alexa.
You can use GSA PRE in two different ways: intercept requests to toolbarqueries.google.com to emulate PR on the fly or by loading URLs manually. To load URLs, click the “Load URLs” on the menu in the top right of the software. A window will pop-up with the settings.
“OpenFile with URLs” is the file you will load the URLs from. “SaveFile with Metric Data” is the file to output the results.
There are four formats for the output file: CSV, TAB-Text, Pipe-Text, or Excel. You can change this based on your preference.
You can also filter the output by PR.
At the bottom, there are two checkboxes: “Save with _____” and “Save also URLs not being resolved“.
The first option will save the service’s metric with the emulated PR in the output file. The second option will save URLs that weren’t successful due to an error or timeout. Here is an example output file with 3 columns: “URL“, “Emu-PR“, and the service’s rank.
This file is an export of the data table results.
As you can see, SEMRush was used for this example. These are four of the top domains and are therefore mapped to an emulated PR of 10 based on the “Edit Ranges” map.
Just below the “Load URLs” button is the “Proxies” button. GSA PRE allows you to use either proxies or direct connection. You may be able to get away with using direct connection, but I would recommend using proxies. Most GSA software comes with similar proxy support. Here’s what the main window looks like:
You have your data table that lists the proxies with the columns “Host”, “Port”, “Type”, “Status”, “Speed”, “Source”, “Priv” (private), and “Ano” (anonymous). The “Type” refers to the type of proxy – Connect, Web, Socks, etc. The “Source” is from where the proxy came from. “Priv” distinguishes between a private or public proxy. “Ano” tells you whether or not the proxy is anonymous. Below the data table are four buttons: “Add Proxy“, “Test Proxies“, “Delete“, and “Add/Edit ProxySites“. To the right, you can see the number of checker threads running. Below you have the log and the number of check/unchecked proxies.
You have a lot of different ways to import proxies.
You can find public proxies online, parse a URL, add a single proxy, use a variety of APIs, and import from a file or the clipboard. I would recommend using private proxies over public proxies. You can get away with public proxies, but they just won’t be as reliable as private. I went ahead and clicked “Find online + Test” and it scraped public proxies and tested them in one step. You can now see the data table filling up. The green rows means those proxies are alive and ready to be used. The red overlay highlights the non working proxies. If a row is checked, that means the proxy is active. If it is unchecked, that means the proxy is inactive. You can turn on/off both working and non-working proxies.
If you want to test the proxies manually, you can click the “Test Proxies” button. This will open the following context menu:
You can test the selected proxies or all of the proxies at once. You have a couple of options when testing the proxies as you can see above: “Against Google (search)“, “Against Google (PR)“, “Against Bing“, “Against WhatIsMyipAddress.com“, “Against Anonymous Test-URL“, and “Custom“. If you need to check the proxies against a custom site, you can choose the “Custom” option.
To the right of the “Test Proxies” button is the “Delete” button.
You have 4 options here. You can delete all the proxies, only the selected ones, ones that are not anonymous, and unchecked/not working proxies.
Adding/Editing Proxy Sites
The last of the four buttons is the “Add/Edit ProxySites” button. This will open up the “Proxy Finder” window.
This is a little advanced and I’m not going to cover it in detail in this guide. This window allows you to edit the built-in public proxy sources or add your own. On the left-hand side is the list of proxy sources. When clicking on each on individually, the right-hand side will show the configuration for that proxy site. Here you have a bunch of options for extracting proxies from the source. You can either parse a URL or File. The built-in proxy sources should be sufficient for scraping a bunch of valid proxies.
The GSA PR Emulator proxies section has two main tabs: “List” and “Options“. The “List” is the main tab we just covered. Now let’s hop over to the options:
As you can see, there are many options here. Let’s break down each one.
- Automatically search for new proxies every X minutes: previously, we did a manual search and text. GSA PRE allows you to automate the scraping process by allowing it to search for new proxies from the proxy sources on an interval/
- Only on less than X active proxies: this is in reference to the option above. If you check this option, you are telling the tool to only search for new proxies only if there are a specific amount of active (good) proxies left.
- Test proxies: an option to allow automatic testing of proxies based on the auto-scrape interval.
- Test proxies (option 1): this is the 1st box to the right. You can choose to test “All (good only)”, “Only new added”, or All “(good/bad)”.
- Test proxies (option 2): this is the 2nd box to the right. You can choose to test both private & public proxies, private only, or public only.
- Re-text previously working proxies: if this option is checked, the software will also test proxies that were previously working prior to the auto-scrape.
- Check if anonymous: if checked, the automatic testing of proxies will also check to see if the proxies are anonymous or not.
- Proxy judge URL: this is the URL to determine whether or not the proxies being test are anonymous. The default URL is sufficient, but you can change this to another judge if you’d like.
- Remove non anonymous proxies: if this option is checked, all proxies that do not pass the anonymous check will be removed.
- Remove proxies (option): this is the blue text option. You have the option to either remove bad proxies when they are older than X minutes, remove both public and private proxies, or remove just public proxies.
- Proxies should resolve domain to IP: this is in reference to all proxies for GSA PRE. This option is asking you whether or not to turn domain name proxies into IPs.
- Try using Proxy-Keep-Alive: this option is for the proxies to use a single connection for multiple requests, resulting in a faster process.
- Automatically disable public proxies when detected to be down: once a public proxy goes down, should the tool disable it completely, or leave it checked to be tested again?
- Automatically disable private proxies when detected to be down: this option is the same as above but for private proxies
- Automatically export working proxies to file: this will export all working proxies to a file on after they are checked.
- Automatically export working proxies to file (option): this is the option box to the right of the chosen file. You have the option to export both private/public working proxies, just public, or just private.
- Threads: this is the number of threads to use for both the scraping and checking of proxies.
- Timeout: how long a connection has to respond.
- Randomize proxies before testing to avoid false positive portscans: if checked, this will randomize the order of the proxies before testing.
Generally, I would leave most of these options. If you don’t have private proxies to use, I would recommend automatically searching and testing the proxies on an interval. Here are the recommended settings (for public proxies):
Which Service To Choose
This depends on what you using GSA PR Emulator for. For backlinking, I would highly recommend SEMRush. Alexa is based on traffic, which is not necessarily coming from the search engines; making it inaccurate for deciding how powerful a domain/page is. Yandex would be the second choice because it is based on the quality and relativity of the backlinks the domain/page has. The downside is that it is for the Russian search engine, and may not correlate with the other major engines like Google. If you are trying to rank for Yandex, then this is definitely the service you should map to. For ranking in Google, I’d go with SEMRush. SEMRush rank is based on “both the volume of organic traffic and the value of paid traffic” in Google, which would result in the most accurate results and give you a good idea of how Google views the domains/pages. Again, which service you choose depends on what you are shooting for.
Connecting To GSA Search Engine Ranker
As stated earlier, there are two ways to use GSA PR Emulator: by manually loading URLs or by allowing other software to send requests to it via toolbarqueries.google.com queries. GSA PRE was mainly designed as a supplement to GSA SER, but can also used with any other software that uses PageRank still. GSA SER still uses the toolbarqueries.google.com queries, so the two work perfect with one another. If you missed my tutorial, I went over how to configure GSA SER to send the requests to GSA PRE. Once configured, when GSA SER is analyzing a potential backlink target, it will send the domain/page over to GSA PR Emulator, and GSA PRE will send back the emulated PR.
Now that we broke down the software, went over which service to use, and how to connect it to GSA SER, let me give my thoughts on the tool.
To put it bluntly, this tool is a must-have if you are using GSA SER. GSA SER does offer a built-in YandexTIC replacement, but this is really only useful if going for rankings in Yandex. If going for Google, GSA PRE has to be used in order to get the most accurate numbers possible. As explained above, I would highly recommend sticking with SEMRush as the emulating service. This will give you the most accurate idea of how powerful a domain is. GSA PRE will work with any other script/software that used toolbarqueries.google.com queries as well. Just let it run side by side with the other software.
Again, if possible, I would recommend using private proxies as they are much more reliable than public proxies. However, you can still get away with public proxies. If going public, then make sure to check of the automatic scraping and testing of proxies on a set interval.
All-in-all, GSA PR Emulator is well worth the cheap one-time price of $34. It’s light and hands-off. When doing automated backlinking, you have to have an idea of the authority of your target domains/pages, and GSA PR Emulator does just that.
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