Page Rank and Backlinking

by Geoffrey Hoesch — Apr 18, 2007
A website’s success is contingent upon countless factors. Of these factors, perhaps the most essential is a site’s Google Page Rank, which is an algorithmic estimation of a site’s relevancy as determined by Google. Now, you may be wondering why all SEO experts refer specifically to Google when talking about optimization and increasing SERP. It’s true that there are thousands of Search Engines out there and all of them have their own algorithms to determine a page’s rank; however, Google dominates the Search Engine marketplace, with approximately 60% of all web searches originating from their site. The remaining 40% of the marketplace is shared between all other search engines, including Yahoo!, MSN, and AltaVista. Therefore, to perform well on Google is to perform well with 60% of the marketplace. Also, because Google leads the market, other search engines must design their algorithms in similar fashions, so a high Google rank generally signifies a high rank on many other search engines.

More about Page Rank

Google has developed an ingenious algorithm to determine the relevance of websites. The most in-depth analysis of this algorithm I have seen can be found here - http://www.iprcom.com/papers/pagerank/ - and if you really want to know the ins and outs of the page rank system I highly suggest reading this page. Fortunately for those of us who aren’t mathematically minded, Page Rank can be explained relatively easily and without complicated equations. Main Factors that Determine Page Rank • Number of Backlinks (sites that are linking to you) • Quality of Backlinks • Internal Linking • Quality Content • Site Consistency

Number of Backlinks

A backlink is a link to your site from another site or source. Google presumes that a relevant and useful site will naturally accrue backlinks over time, because these sites provide information that other people will want to access. My former link to - http://www.iprcom.com/papers/pagerank/ - is for all intensive purposes a backlink for that site, which provides useful information that is relevant to this article. Such is the natural process of building backlinks. Many CEOs and website developers mistakenly assume that the more backlinks a page has, the higher its Page Rank will be. As a result, CEOs often pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for link building campaigns that bring in thousands of useless links.

Quality of Backlinks

Google doesn’t even consider backlinks unless they are from pages with at least a Page Rank (PR) of 3. Therefore, those thousands of links to junk websites with PR 0-2 are useless. Additionally, Google considers content when calculating the relevance of backlinks. So, you may have hundreds of PR 5+ page links coming from automobile websites. This is great, but if you sell computers, Google’s algorithm is intelligent enough to know that these automobile websites are not relevant links. In order for backlinks to help your page rank, it’s important to seek quality links to related websites with high PR. I will discuss the process of quality link building in a later article.

Internal Linking

Internal linking refers to page links within a site. The home page of most sites includes links to many sub-pages such as the About Us page and Contact Us page. If your sub-pages have a high page rank, the page rank of your home page will increase.

Quality Content

Static pages do not have high PR; Google favors pages with dynamic content. This does not mean that content should be altered on a daily basis, but that relevant and quality content should be frequently added to your site. Additional pages for your site can also increase opportunity for internal linking.

Site Consistency

While it is important to add new content, it is also important that your site remain focused on a consistent topic or theme. When your page is indexed by web crawlers (will occur with varying frequency depending on PR) it is important that they find new and relevant material as well as older, more stable material. This is a sign to the web crawlers (and Google’s algorithm) that your site has longevity and is in the process of growing. That being said, if your SERP placement is diminishing, it never hurts to update older pages with fresh content.

Useful Resources

I recommend utilizing the following tools. Google’s Page Rank Browser Toolbar can be downloaded here: http://toolbar.google.com/ - this toolbar shows you the page rank of each page you visit. A free backlink analysis tool can be found here: http://www.webmaster-toolkit.com/link-popularity-checker.shtml
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