Google PageRank was once a defining factor in getting your business noticed online, but those days have changed. Despite the fact that most marketers have a vague idea of what PageRank is, it is one of the most poorly understood concepts in digital advertising. Rather than focusing on PageRank exclusively, it is helpful to understand the role it plays in the larger scheme of search engine rankings. Google PageRank itself is just one of the many tools your business can use to its advantage when competing in a changing online market.
What is PageRank?
To put it simply, Google PageRank is an algorithm that ranks web pages by examining the relationship between each page and the sites that link to it. PageRank also analyses the importance or authority of a given page and the domain on which it is hosted. While PageRank is an apt descriptor of what the technology accomplishes, it was actually named after Larry Page, one of Google’s founders. This technology scores each web page and ranks all relevant pages in a digital index. The PageRank scale ranges from 0 to 10, with a score of PR10 representing a page of the highest possible quality and authority.
How Does PageRank Work?
The original PageRank scoring formula as published by Google itself is PR(A) = (1-d) + d(PR(t1)/C(t1) + … + PR(tn)/C(tn)). While this seems like an intimidating concept at first glance, the concepts underlying the formula are actually quite simple. Each page is given a “vote” on PageRank that is equal to 85 percent of its own PageRank value. All pages linked to by that page receive the same PageRank value boost. According to this formula, a few links from a high-ranking page account for a more significant PageRank boost than many links from a page with a lower rank. In other words, PageRank prioritises the quality of links over the quantity of links. This is to prevent the system from being manipulated by link farms and other unscrupulous linking strategies.
While Google’s original PageRank formula may have changed over the years to adapt to changing SEO strategies, the principles behind it remain important to understand if you are going to succeed online. If you receive a few links from PR8 websites, those links will get you much further than hundreds or even thousands of websites with a page rank of PR5 or lower. This is where generating high-quality content that high-ranking sites will organically want to link to comes into play.
Google PageRank has been updated several times a year on average since 2008. Nonetheless, Google is constantly updating its index as new links are established and new websites are published. Just because your page rank hasn’t moved in a few months doesn’t mean it isn’t changing behind the scenes. Google avoids posting real-time updates on each page’s score because they prefer website administrators to maintain a long-term focus. Rather than obsessing over the PageRank toolbar, it is more effective to expand your marketing reach through quality campaigns and by providing excellent products and services.
Does Your PageRank Score Matter?
It is a common misconception that a high Google PageRank score always correlates to high placement in search engine results. The truth is that PageRank says more about the quality of your links than it does your ability to rank well in Google search results. PageRank scores have a greater impact on search results for some search engines than others. Google values the score most highly, with Bing following at a close second. Search rankings on Google.co.uk and Yahoo! are much less connected to PageRank value.
Research shows that Google’s PageRank value is only somewhat correlated with the actual rankings of a page in search results. That influence continues to lessen as other ranking criteria are introduced to Google’s search ranking algorithms. This means that the factors that originally had significant influence over search rankings are now few among many other metrics. In fact, there are more than 200 variables Google uses to determine whether a page makes it to the top of search results for a given keyword. While it can be overwhelming to realize the sheer variety of factors that go into determining a page’s rank for certain keywords, high-quality content from an authoritative source has historically performed well.
How to Influence PageRank
PageRank value can vary dramatically from one site to another, even when two or more sites are owned by the same person. Because PageRank value does not hold the same sway it once did in search engine result rankings, many online marketers are shifting gears to focus on other strategies. Consider putting more effort into the following rather than worrying about your PageRank scores:
Each of these strategies will yield more progress than a focus on PageRank alone. If Google’s process for determining search rankings seems mysterious, it’s for good reason. The search engine giant is focused on improving the user experience by providing results for the most trustworthy sites in a given topic area. This focus is why old tactics such as keyword stuffing and link farming no longer work. In order to build your website’s reputation online, you need a comprehensive approach to digital marketing, and that begins with the actual content on your website.
Social media marketing works in close conjunction with content creation. Search engines want to see that you are providing helpful content to users searching for a specific set of keywords. By including keywords organically in high-quality articles written from an authoritative perspective, you are creating SEO-rich content that can easily be shared on social media. The chief goal of most marketing content pieces is to go “viral,” meaning that your content is so noteworthy users will want to share it with friends and acquaintances online. An article that receives thousands of shares on Facebook and Twitter will help establish your brand’s online reputation and drive more traffic to your website.
SEO-friendly code comes into play during the programming of your website. User-friendly platforms such as WordPress and plug-ins designed for SEO help identify and categorize pages and the content within them in a way that search engines can easily index. From metadata to page titles and page content that is organically infused with meaningful keywords, an SEO-friendly website will provide a significant search boost. Once your website is optimized, you can focus on organic link building to spread the word about your content and drive even more visitors to your website. While Google PageRank has become a small part of the equation when it comes to search engine rankings, organic links from high-quality sources are still valuable. The links themselves hold value beyond your PageRank score, since high-quality links from reputable sources will allow you to broaden your reach for each piece of content you publish.
Google PageRank is important for online marketers to understand, but research shows that it is only part of the much larger picture of search marketing. Knowing the principles behind PageRank will help you put them to use for your site. From social media marketing to creating search-optimised content filled with sensible keywords, there are simple, measurable steps you can take to establish your brand online.