Wednesday, September 12, 2007


~~~Search Engine Optimization~~~
Today, I'm going to do my best to summarize what Google PageRank isall about.

This would normally be an impossible task for someone likeme, because it's pretty complicated.
The document explains what Google PageRank is, how it is determined,and how significant it is to high rankings in the search engineresults pages. Further, it discusses the accuracy (or inaccuracy) ofthe Google Toolbar, and also goes on to describe how Google actuallycalculates PageRank. For you geeky types who love all sorts ofcharts, graphs and formulas, you'll be in heaven when you read it!For the rest of us, it's definitely a tricky concept to understand. Ihope that summarizing the main points here will give you a good feelfor PageRank, and also make it easier for you if and when you decideto delve into Chris' paper.The main thing that I came away with is that PageRank is not thebe-all and end-all to high rankings in Google (which is what I alreadysuspected when looking at many of the Google results pages).

PageRankis just one factor of many that needs to be looked at when optimizinga site for the search engines. Whether or not you decide to try to dothings to "manipulate" your site's PageRank is up to you. As you'llsee once you understand PageRank, it's something that's difficult toartificially manipulate, which is why it works well for Google.Basically, PageRank is Google's method of measuring a page's"importance."

When all other factors, such as the Title tag andkeywords, are taken into account, Google uses PageRank to adjustresults so sites that are more "important" will move up in the resultspage of a user's search, accordingly. Google looks at which pages linkto each other to determine this importance.

If Page A links to PageB, then Page A is saying that Page B is an important page.Here are four important things you should know about PageRank:1. PageRank only looks at the voting ability of incoming links to apage, and how much they recommend that page.2. Every page of a site can have a PageRank, not just the main page.3. You can pass PageRank to different pages of your own site throughthe internal linking structure of the various pages.4. Naming and titling hyperlinks using keyphrases is a separate thingfrom PageRank. Using keyphrases within your links may help with yoursearch engine rankings, but not your PageRank.

The following few sentences from the paper sum up a formula that theGoogle founders published in their original research paper at Stanford:"The PageRank given to Page A by a Page B pointing to it is decreasedwith each link to anywhere that exists on Page B. That means a page'sPageRank is essentially a measure of its vote; it can split that votebetween one link or two links or many more, but its overall votingpower will always be the same."In other words, for PageRank purposes, it's better to have a page withonly a few links on it pointing to your site, than a page with tons oflinks on it pointing to your site. If a page has a PageRank of seven(out of ten), and it's filled with many links to other sites, thoseother sites only get a tiny portion of that seven PR because thePageRank gets divided amongst all the links.

So in effect, justbecause a page has a high PageRank, it doesn't mean it's the best oneto be linked from. A page with a five PR but with less outbound linksmay actually benefit your site's PageRank more than the seven PR pagewith tons of links. Chris does a great job of diagramming this in hispaper.Another important aspect of PageRank is "PageRank Feedback." Pageslinking to each other can create a feedback effect that can increasethe PageRank of those pages. Here's how Chris explained it to me whenI asked him for clarification:"Let's say that page A currently links to nowhere. If we add a linkfrom page A to page B, then page A is saying that page B is important.This means the measure of page B's votes is also increased. Page B isnow saying that the pages it links to are more important than theyotherwise would be. So the measure of those page's votes will beincreased.... and so on (with the pages they link to through the linkstructure). The effect is diluted as it moves down through the links.If we could point our web browser at page B and through clicking onthe links, get to page A, then so could the Google algorithm (at leastone of the pages linking to page A has become more important). If apage linking to page A is more important, then so is its vote, andsubsequently page A becomes more important! So by linking to page B,page A has made itself more important, thus creating PageRankFeedback."

An interesting thing about PR Feedback is that you can use it to youradvantage via the internal navigational structure of your site. Chrisbelieves it's very important to keep as much PageRank within your siteas possible. Therefore, he recommends only linking out to other sitesfrom low PageRank pages of your site. He gives some nice examples ofways to do this. Personally, I feel that if you already have yourlinks pages set up and working for you, it might not beworth changing things to ensure that your links pages are low PRpages.

However, for those of you who like to take advantage of anyand all possible optimization techniques, it's certainly something tothink about!All in all, what I took away from this document is that your PageRankor your Link Popularity strategy should not necessarily be focused onfinding pages with the highest PageRank to link to you. For PageRankpurposes, all links are good, although some may be better than others.Common sense tells me that getting links from any relevant sites thatseem good and appropriate for your site can only help your PageRank.This document seems to prove my common sense opinion. The thing is,one never knows who in the future may be linking to the sites thatlink to your site. So if a particular page has a low PR when youfirst get linked, it's very possible that in a few months that site'sPR will be higher, and will pass some of that increase on to yoursite.

Plus, as your own PageRank increases due to your linkingstrategies, you'll be passing your PR on to your linking partners, andthings will come full circle!You also must remember that even though you may be tempted to want torequest links to your site from mostly high PR sites, in actuality,these links will be harder to obtain. For instance, the Rank Writesite is a high PR site with the main page having a PR of eight (thelinks page is a PR seven). However, we are extremely picky with whatsites we will link to. In fact, we rarely add links to sites thatrequest them. Most of the links on our site are there because wefound them on our own and believe they are cream of the crop sites.I'm quite sure that Google counts on this sort of thing happening. Ifwe linked to every single SEO resource on the net, whether good or bador somewhere in between, our own site would lose some of itscredibility. In order for us to maintain our high level of authority,we have to be very picky about our outbound links. I'm sure that otherhigh PR sites do the same thing.

The "pickiness" of our links is whatmakes them so valuable.The moral of the story is that if you have a new site, chances arethat most high PR sites will not simply add a link to yours justbecause you've offered them a reciprocal link. You will need to searchout sites that are on the same "level" as your site because they willbe more likely to exchange links with you. Don't worry, though...ifyou have a great site, and the sites that link to you also containvaluable content, you'll still see a benefit in PageRank as the wholelot of you eventually become more popular. Once again, it all comesdown to making your site the best it can be!

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