Most people view PageRank as that value from 0 to 10 that’s in your Google Toolbar, showing how much reputation your site has on the internet. There are some details that you should know if you really want to understand PageRank. Read more
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Page Rank is a vital part to any SEO done for a website. Understanding how to increase Page Rank is a huge benefit to any SEOer, and can help make a difference between page 10 and page 1 on the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).
(For those that want to get picky, yes, Page Rank is actually spelled PageRank, but since a large number of people think of it as two separate words, I’ll refer to it that way in this post.)
To start – what is Page Rank? Page Rank is not named because it’s associated with web pages, it’s actually named after one of Google’s founders, Larry Page. The true ranking structure is something that isn’t fully available to anyone outside of Google, although you can install the Google Toolbar (for IE or Firefox) to see the Page Rank Google has publicly posted for any given web page.
So what is Page Rank? Basically, it’s a score Google has given to a web page, between 0 and 10. Higher is better. It’s affected by a variety of things, although knowing how to increase Page Rank for your site will help much. This is because Google tends to post higher Page Ranked sites higher on the SERPs, for the keywords that they are optimized for. To Google, Page Rank is equivalent with a level of quality. If a site has a high Page Rank, it is likely a high quality page.
To get an idea of this – most pages when they start begin with PR (Page Rank) 0. From here, initially most sites are around 1, 2, or 3. To reach PR 4 or above requires some qualifications, which I’ll detail in a moment. Anything above PR 6 takes quite a bit to get to, and these are very well known, popular sites. For some examples, these are how the following sites are currently ranked:
- FOX.com – PR 7
- Digg.com – PR 8
- Hulu.com – PR 8
- Slashdot.org – PR 9
- YouTube.com – PR 9
- CNN.com – PR 10
- Google.com – PR 10
How do you increase Page Rank? The primary means of increasing PR is determined by how Google scores PR: it’s all about who links to you. This ties heavily, very heavily into basic SEO. Off-page linking is how PR is built.
The basics of Page Rank come down to links. It’s like a popularity contest – the more links to a given page, the more votes that are cast to this page, the higher a Page Rank that page is given. The weight of each link is affected by the PR of the linking page. This is where things start getting a little trickier to understand, but we’ll start with the basic formula.
PR = 0.15 + (0.85 * (PR of linking page / number of links on page))
This starts with 0.15, which is the lowest possible PR any given page can have. If your page is crawled and has no links to it at all, that’s where you are. The next bit of math takes 0.85 and multiplies it times the PR of the page linking to you divided by the total links from that page. This does mean that the more links on the linking page, the more “washed out” the quality of link from the site is. Getting a link from a page that only has three links is far better than from a page with 230 links.
Adding up multiple links into the equation makes it get quite messy, but you can see pretty clearly how getting a high quality link from a high PR site will jump your PR rather quickly. Also realize that this equation applies to on-site linking, as well. So by simply linking to your own pages from within your site will help your page rank. Keep in mind that the more links you put, the less PR (the less “link juice” as it’s often termed) will be given the page being linked to.
To get to something like a PR 7 means you have to have many links, and many high quality links. Good SEO requires finding quality relevant links, and increasing Page Rank is one reason for this.
So to increase Page Rank, you can start with doing quality on-site linking, and then from there start getting links from other pages to jump your PR further. The higher PR the page linking to you, the higher PR you’ll get, and the better you’ll do in the search listings.
One of the overlooked parts of SEO is coming up with good backlinks. Now any professional search engine optimizer knows very well that you NEED backlinks to get your site up in the listings. But how many realize that exactly which backlinks you choose to use makes a huge difference?
This is where Page Rank comes into play. If you’re trying to rank for a little search engine like, say… Google – you need to consider their rules in the game. Google uses Page Rank to estimate how good a page is. Good for consumers, good for business, good for quality overall. This is done by estimating the amount of traffic the site sees, in addition to the sites that link to this site in question.
The way SEO comes into this equation can be explained through an analogy. Referrals. Say you are looking for a good doctor, to help you get over a nasty infection you got after you got a little overzealous making sushi and cut yourself. If you had no idea where good doctors where, how would you find them? Most people would ask a friend, or a colleague. Someone they trusted. Now if Jim Bob the back alley narcotics dealer mentioned to you this nice doc he knew that had great prices and could slip you a little extra pain relief (wink wink nudge nudge), would you trust him? But if Mr. Oxford, the CEO in charge of the chain of banks in town – if he recommended the doctor he used, one that costs a little extra but is very effective, friendly, and knowledgable – which of the two would you choose?
This is a little like how Google does its Page Rank and how you can excel with SEO. If a site has a backlink from some unrelated page (say, a site about lawnmowers has a link to your dog food page), that just doesn’t make a lot of sense and doesn’t carry much weight. But if you have a link from a well-known source (i.e. Wikipedia) for a related keyword (i.e. DOG FOOD), Google looks at that and says, “Well now. This page has a high quality site linking to it, with a related word. It MUST be high quality, as well.” And then your site jumps in rank.
This is very much like a referral system. If a great source gives good referrals, you learn to trust them. So if your page has good referrals with related keywords, you’ll move up much more quickly in rankings. If your page has bad referrals with random keywords, your rankings may not move much – and in some cases, they may even DECLINE.
So keep this in mind when you’re trying to get some good backlinks for your site. Don’t just go hunting for every single backlink you can get – higher quality ones are worth far more than a huge number of low quality ones.