What Google PR Is & How To Improve Yours
Toolbar and Actual PR: What's the
PageRank - How Can I Improve Mine?
Is Google PageRank?
It's easy to be confused
about Google's PageRank. People often
confused PageRank (PR) with where a page ranks
in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), but PR is
actually a factor that goes into ranking your page.
Because PR is based on
your incoming links, an easy way to think about PR is
as a measure of "link popularity."
In its earliest incarnation,
PageRank was the metric that set Google apart
from other search engines. Central to Google
when the search engine emerged, PageRank was a calculation
based on links (both internal and external) that reflected
the likelihood of a random surfer landing on a given page.
Google founder Larry Page
theorized that links to a page could be seen the same
way as citations in scholarly journals to other research.
In other words, a link from another page indicated the
value of a page. Another way to look at it was as a vote
of confidence in a page. Or link popularity.
But for someone who really
wants to understand PR, that's
is a calculation, based on incoming links, of Google’s
estimation of the importance of a page.
It is expressed on a scale of 0-10 in the toolbar, with
ten being more important. Actual PR is calculated on a
scale of 0-1. Initially, PR was a fairly simple calculation
-- and if you want to understand the original formula,
wikipedia does an excellent job of explaining the original
formula. You may also find SearchEngineLand's article
Is A Link Worth?
But as Google has developed
- and sought to prevent webmasters from manipulating PR,
PageRank has become much more sophisticated. In Google’s
own words (bold added):
Technology: PageRank reflects our view of the importance
of web pages by considering more than 500 million
variables and 2 billion terms. Pages that
we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank
and are more likely to appear at the top of the search
Pagerank is based on the
quality, as well as the quantity of inbound links. Allow
me to repeat what I believe is important statement about
PR: Pages that Google perceives as important "receive
a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the
top of the search results."
Page Rank and Actual PageRank – What’s the
It would appear that Google
opened Pandora’s Box in December 2000 with the release
of a toolbar that revealed the PageRank of a given page.
Webmasters who wanted to raise their position in the SERPs
flocked to add the toolbar to their browser. Now they
knew the value Google placed on a page and in no time,
Toolbar PageRank (TBPR) became the deciding
factor on the exchange or purchase of links. Got PR? became
the webaster's watchword.
Perturbed by the growing
obsession with PR, Google stopped releasing PageRank to
the toolbar in a timely fashion and later removed it from
Webmaster Tools altogether. Matt Cutts, who heads up the
spam fighting team at Google, continues to work hard to
convince webmasters that PageRank is “just one of
We Know About PR
- Toolbar PR
is not the same as the actual PageRank; it is an out
of date approximation of Actual PR, at best.
- Toolbar PR
is expressed on a scale of 0 to 10.
- Actual PageRank
is expressed afrom 0 to 1.
- Actual PageRank
is one of at least 200 factors that Google uses to decide
where a page ranks in organic results.
- Actual PageRank
is a calculation of the importance of a page based on
the importance of the pages linking to it.
What We Don’t Know About PageRank
- SEOs don’t know
how PageRank is really calculated. One can read its
original formula (see the
wiki page on PR) but it's clear that Google has
refined the formula extensively. Google was recently
awarded a new
patent that bears study for any serious SEO. See:
Bill Slawski's analysis of the new patent: http://www.seobythesea.com/?p=3806
- SEOs don’t know
how important it is - but it is important,
Matt Cutts says in this video on PageRank
and the 200 other signals.
- SEOs don’t
know if Toolbar PageRank is simply an outdated version
of what the actual PageRank was at some time in the
past, or a completely unrelated calculation.
(Frankly, I suspect the latter.)
- It isn't known (outside
of Google) why some sites outrank sites with higher
PR, but I suspect it is because toolbar PageRank
is not an accurate reflection of actual PR.
You Understand PageRank Better Now, So How Can You Improve
Get It Naturally
- The best way to improve PageRank is
to create unique, compelling content that attracts links
naturally. Google highly values one way links from related
sites. (See this article on Link
Self Service Links
- You can also create “self service” links
through these practices:
– Links from directories such as DMOZ, Joant, Yahoo,
and other human edited directories can be helpful. Look
for niche directories, too. (See: Directory
– Write and publish original, useful, relevant articles
with a link back to your site. (see: Article
– Seek out blogs that need content and
write useful posts with a link to your site.
– Join forums which are relevant to your website
and participate fully. Don’t expect a link from
an unrelated forum to help much, if at all. Google is
getting better and better at determining the relevance
It takes time and
a lot of participation to make forum backlinks
work for you. If you A few links are not going to pass
much PR, if any. Consistent participation over a long
period of time can be effective, but a few links here
and there are not worth your time.
NB: Self service
links should not be your mainstay. Google is
determined to devalue any backlink strategy that is primarily
intended to manipulate the SERPs. You might get some short
term benefit from these strategies, but in the long run,
the successful site will have attracted links for its
content and usefulness.
Do I Need To Know About PageRank? FAQ
What do “nofollow’
links have to do with PageRank? Links with a
nofollow attribute do not pass PageRank. It does not mean
that Google won’t follow or crawl or index the site
linked, but it does mean that neither PageRank, anchor
text nor any other SEO benefit will accrue from that link.
It essentially says to Google, I don’t trust this
To determine whether a
link is no-follow or not, you can view the page source
through a browser and look for the attribute rel=”nofollow,”
you can add a Firefox plug-in that makes every nofollow
link highlighted in red, or you can, in FF, right click
on any link and check the Properties for ‘nofollow.’
So many people
say “forget PR,” others say it’s really
important. Why all the disagreement among SEOs and what
should I believe? PageRank probably is more important
than most factors – it was central to the search
engine concept that set Google apart from other search
engines – but since you really can’t know
what that number is, it has become kind of ridiculous
to spin your wheels too much about it. When the toolbar
was first released and you could apparently see a true
approximation of PageRank, it made much more sense that
webmasters focused on it. It was a known metric whose
formula was publicly available through a patent application,
in a sea of unknown factors of the algorithm. All you
had to do was trade links with a site with higher PR than
yours, and you were golden. Or so it seemed. Content was
always King. Still is.
So, What Should
I Do? Concentrate on content – compelling,
original, useful content that will attract links naturally.
Continue building links with the focus on traffic, your
own judgment of quality and adding value for the user.
If you want to focus on a metrics for your site, here’s
suggests in an FAQ on crawling and ranking:
My site's PageRank has gone up / gone down / not
changed in months!
A: Don't worry. In fact, don't bother thinking about
it. We only update the PageRank displayed in Google
Toolbar a few times a year; this is our respectful
hint for you to worry less about PageRank, which
is just one of over 200 signals that can affect
how your site is crawled, indexed and ranked. PageRank
is an easy metric to focus on, but just because
it's easy doesn't mean it's useful for you as a
site owner. If you're looking for metrics,
we'd encourage you to check out Analytics, think
about conversion rates, ROI (return on investment),
relevancy, or other metrics that actually correlate
to meaningful gains for your website or business.
If I Want To Know More? Try These PageRank
wrote this article originally for the V7n Forum where
I am a moderator. It has been edited and expanded.
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an SEO Copywriter,
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