PageRank (PR for short), is a link analysis algorithm used by Google when evaluating the relative importance of a webpage. PR looks at a set of websites and ascribes a numerical value to each based upon its perceived importance in the set.
For years, PageRank has been the gold standard for website authority because it was Google’s way of showing the user how important or authoritative a particular page is. Google also provided a toolbar that was used by webmasters to check the PR for pages on their websites. However, due to abuse by link sellers making money off website owners who wanted quick boost in rankings, Google stopped updating the PageRank toolbar in December 2013.
In November 2014, Google’s John Mueller stated in a Google Webmaster Help that Google “have no plans to do further updates,” around PageRank. However, just because Google have decided to stop updating the toolbar does not mean PageRank is not still important. PageRank is still as important as it’s always been. Google keeps it hidden because it doesn’t want the toolbar to be used by webmasters to manipulate their webpages.
How PageRank Is Determined
The PageRank value is determined by several things but the most important are the values derived from the incoming and outgoing links in your page. There are numerous variables involved in calculating PageRank, but the most important is link popularity. So the more incoming links you have to a particular webpage, the higher PageRank that page will have.
First, all brand new webpages are given an innate but tiny amount of PageRank.
Pages can then increase their PageRank by receiving links from other pages. For example, if page A has a PR of 3 and links to page B, page B gets an increase in its PR that is a proportion of page A’s PR. If page B gets a lot of dofollow links from a number of authoritative, high quality webpages with good PR, this increases the page’s importance and authority, and it will rank high in the search results pages. The more PR it gets, the more higher it will rank in the search results.
Google is very good at figuring out what your website or webpage is about, and those are the search terms that the PageRank of that particular webpage relates to. Moreover, high PageRank pages pass on more authority to the sites they link to.
Google keeps the actual algorithm top secret, but we do know that it’s calculated on a logarithmic scale. This means that going from 5 to 6 is a much bigger jump than going from 2 to 3. For demonstration purposes, let’s say it’s on a scale of 11, and that a link from a PR 1 page gives us one vote. This table will a fairly good representation of how many external links are required to achieve a certain Google PageRank.
So how do you benefit from increasing your PageRank?
- You will attract better quality websites to yours;
- In most cases, you will rank higher in the organic search results than sites with lower PR.
- Your site will be highly rated. There are literally thousands of users that consider a high PageRank the sign of a very influential site.
- Keep in mind that it is your webpage that is ranked and not your website. That is a fundamental aspect of the concept of PageRank. You could conceivably have one page ranked higher than all of your other pages put together. This is the biggest reason to make sure that all of your pages have links into and out of them and that you never have dangling links or pages that can be linked to but not out of. This underscores why the navigation structure of your site is vitally important.
It is significant to note that PageRank is not the cause or the result of high rankings. PageRank depends mainly on 2 things: Incoming links and traffic. Don’t make the mistake of assuming high rankings come as a result of high PageRank, when in fact high PageRank is one natural outcome of high rankings. However, the concept behind Google’s PageRank is crucial when working with external links (i.e.: incoming) and internal links (i.e.: the website’s internal linking structure).
Every link from A to B is considered as a ‘vote of confidence/credibility’ from A to B. We can use PageRank as a physical measurement of how this credibility travels from one URL to the next. PageRank zero, one, two, three, are fairly easy rankings to get. But each after that gets ten times as hard to achieve. Once you get up to four, certainly five, it becomes very, very difficult. When you consider that getting a five is 10 times more difficult than getting a four, you can get some idea of just of the complexity. It becomes more and more difficult to increase your PR over time.
The role of off-site SEO viz-a-viz PageRank is to maximize incoming PR by increasing the number of incoming links from high PR websites. The role of on-page SEO is to harness incoming PageRank so that none of it is wasted (on broken links) and that most of it is channelled to the most important pages of the site.
Effective Strategies for Increasing PageRank
Following are the best SEO techniques for increasing a web site’s Google PageRank:
Produce good quality content that webmasters in your industry or niche will want to link to.
One of the greatest techniques toward improving PageRank is to create quality content that attracts organic links from relevant, high quality websites. This may be easier said than done, but it is the safest and least risky way to build organic backlinks. This content should always be relevant to the topic of the site.
On-page optimization techniques.
It is important to apply good on-page optimization techniques throughout the site such as creating unique and compelling page title and meta description tags for each page on your site.
Develop a solid internal linking strategy.
Internal links are simply links from one webpage on the same website to another. You can increase the PR of specific pages on your site by using internal linking to funnel PageRank from webpages with high PageRank to webpages with low PageRank. For example, let’s say you want to increase the authority and importance of a particular webpage on your site. Since there’s no way to identify a page’s PageRank, use a tool like Open Site Explorer to look for the pages with high page authority (PA). In most cases, webpages with high PA generally correlate with high PR. Once you have identified your high page authority pages, build links from those pages to the target page with exact match anchor text, using close variations of the target keyword you want that page to rank for.
The major determining factor in Google’s PageRank is the quality and quantity of your back links. What these links tell Google is that your site must be popular with good content on it, or else other sites would not be linking to it. It is important to note that that in the aftermath of the Panda and Penguin updates, Google’s search algorithms have gotten very smart and accurate with PageRank, and so they can tell bad links (such as links from private blog networks built specifically to manipulate PR) from the good. However, the basic concept of PageRank stays the same. High authority sites can pass link juice to lower authority sites by linking to those sites.
The Impact of Google+ on PageRank
It is significant to note that Google treats Google+ profiles and pages in the same way that it treats “regular” webpages as far as search is concerned. What this means in effect is that when it comes to search authority, high PageRank Google+ profiles can be just as powerful as any other webpage in passing PageRank to any other website, Google+ profile or Google+ page.
Traditionally, a relevant page with a higher PageRank will generally rank better than a lower PageRank page for the same keyword or search term. The way PageRank works in Google+ is exactly the same. Let’s assume Peter has a profile with a PageRank of 6 and Jose has a profile with a PageRank of 3. If Jose puts out a post on Google+ and Peter reshares Jose’s post, if you do a search on Google for the title of Jose’s original post, you’ll find Peter’s share of the post will rank higher than Jose’s post, even though Jose was the original author of the post. The post now becomes part of Peter’s content. In the context of PageRank, Peter’s authority has elevated that post and the PageRank of that post.
Although Google keeps the actual PageRank ranking algorithm a closely guarded secret, having a good number of backlinks to your Google+ profile or brand page from authoritative webpages and Google+ profiles can build the PR and search authority of your Google+ profile or page.
What this means is that it is just as important to be attracting good links to your profile as it is to be building a powerful network within Google+. As with everything else in SEO, the best way to determine how best to increase the PageRank of your Google+ profile or page is to try out a few experiments by attracting backlinks from high authority sites.