PageRank (PR) is a link analysis algorithm used by Google to evaluate 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 was the best way to assess the quality of a website’s backlink profile, and evaluate the true authority of a website. This is because it evaluates both the quality and quantity of links to a given website, and lets users know how important or authoritative a particular page or website 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 doesn’t exist. PageRank is still very much around. Google just keeps it hidden because it doesn’t want the toolbar to be used by webmasters as a way to sell links.
How PageRank Fundamentally Works
The PageRank value of a web page 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 web page that is ranked and not your website. That is a fundamental aspect of the concept of PageRank. It is quite possible to have one page ranked higher than all of the other pages on your site.
It is important to keep in mind that PageRank is not the cause of high rankings. PageRank depends mainly on 2 things: the quantity and quality of incoming links and traffic, which means it is one natural outcome of high rankings.
The fundamental 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).
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.
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 content that natually attracts 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 that you 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.
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.