I’ve mentioned this mystical term ‘pagerank’ in my previous articles and probably made it seem like manna from heaven. It’s not that important in the grand scheme of things, but it is helpful to understand what it is, as the main contributor to achieving a decent pagerank IS the most important thing for search optimisation: getting links. I’ve split this piece into 2 parts. The first is an explanation of pagerank and the second covers the real world practicalities, strategies and gotchas of link building. So here’s my dummies guide to pagerank.
So go download Google’s toolbar. There’s some vaguely useful tools on there, mostly it just takes up screen space in your browser window, however, for the purposes of this article, there’s a very handy tool on there: the pagerank indicator (it’s somewhere near the middle). This shows a little green bar, and if you hover your mouse over it a number out of 10. This indicates the public page rank of the page which you are on. Now, note what I said there – this number refers to the page, not the whole site. This is a numeric value, between 0 and 10 (0 bad, 10 good), that represents how important your page is in Google’s index (the index being the total list of pages Google knows about). Spend a little time surfing around the pages associated with your band, some other favourite sites, then some big sites (BBC, Amazon, Google, Apple etc.) and check the pagerank for those sites, as well as various pages within those sites. This will give you an idea of how pagerank is distributed. Now, this is only the public pagerank, which gets updated a couple of times a year, and is purely meant as an indicator of how your site’s performing for in Google’s search index. Real ‘pagerank’ is somewhat more complex and probably doesn’t exist in any form that we’d understand in Google’s (and indeed other search engines’) search algorithm. However, it can be broadly described like this:
Pagerank is a property that search engines apply to a page when other pages link to it and is used to derive a sense of importance and authority of that page. This influences how high in the search listings your pages appear when people search for terms relating you your site – generally speaking, pages with higher pagerank should appear higher up in search listings than those with less. It’s that simple, at least for the purposes of this article and understanding the basics.
However, due to the complexities of the internet and the propensity for people to try and abuse this mechanism (using link farming for example), the best practise to apply when attempting to improve your pagerank are important to understand.
Now, pagerank for any given page is inherited from the pages that link to it. However, the amount of pagerank that those pages yield depends on how many other pages they link to – so a page with a pagerank of 5, that has links to 5 other pages, would pass on a pagerank of 1 to each of those pages. Now I don’t want you to worry too much about this as it can get VERY confusing, but suffice to say, the higher the pagerank of the pages linking to your page, the more pagerank your page will acquire.
Now, don’t go get all excited now because your dad runs a dental supplies website with a pagerank of 6 that you can con him into linking to your site from. You will remember that I spent a while in my previous article going on about how it’s important to classify and define your band, and that the search engines classify your pages by the company they keep? This is important. Yes, you will derive pagerank to your band’s page regardless of what type of pages link to it, but if these pages are all about different, non-related stuff (eg. dental supplies, badger baiting, S&M, earwax) and your site is about your progressive hair metal band, then Google’s going to get mighty confused about that page and either a) not have a clue how or when to list it or worse b) de-list it entirely as spam.
So as you can see, public pagerank is only an indicator of how important Google perceives your search in the grand scheme of things, and is not particularly helpful in understand how your site is actually performing.
Remember this: the ONLY thing that matters at the end of the day with SEO is that you’re getting traffic of the right kind to your site. Don’t get caught up in pagerank as it’s one of literally thousands of indicators that Google uses to calculate when, against what terms, to whom and in what order to present the pages in its index. However, it is something that you can influence, and has is probably the single most important way to optimise your pages for search.
So how do you go about getting links and driving up your pagerank? Well you’ll just have to wait until my next instalment to find out…Pagerank, SEO