PageRank illustrationAccording to ComScore, last month 67.5% of all searches on the Internet in the U.S. were done with Google. They have consistently held the lion’s share of the search market for years. That’s the reason you need to pay attention to the various ways Google can help or hurt your company’s visibility online.

One major factor that Google considers when deciding which sites show up in the coveted top 10 organic search results for any given keyword is PageRank™.

PageRank is a trademarked term for their link analysis algorithm, named after Google founder, Larry Page. Don’t confuse PageRank with where a web page ranks in the organic search results. Those are two different things.

Google assigns a PageRank score of 0-10 to every web page that it indexes, and it is an indication of how many links are out there that point to that page, and how influential or authoritative those sites are. It’s a popularity contest. However, just like in real life, you may have 1,000 friends who are peers of yours, but when you’re looking for a job, it’s the one or two connections you have with people of influence that really matter.

The main factors that Google considers when assigning a PageRank score to a web page are:

  • the number of inbound links to the page
  • the PageRank of the pages providing the links
  • the size of the page (how much information is on it)
  • the number of times the page has been edited/updated
  • the amount of time since the page was last updated
  • the text in headlines
  • the text in the inbound links

Not all inbound links are created equal

If you have hundreds of links to one of your pages from other web pages that have zero PageRank, and they are on various topics that aren’t related to your web page, those links don’t count for much, if anything.

If you have a dozen links to one of your pages from pages with a PageRank of 3 or 4 or 5, and those referring pages are about the same topic as your page, they are much more valuable and actually pass influence to your page, boosting it’s PageRank score.

How does PageRank affect your website?

The PageRank of any given page is just one of the factors Google looks at when serving up search results. If everything else is equal, a page with a higher PageRank score would be listed higher in the organic search results. However, since the Google algorithm considers hundreds of factors when listing search results, there are certainly instances where pages with low PageRank can outperform pages with a higher PageRank.

In a competitive environment, helping to increase the PageRank of pages on your site is a worthwhile effort.

Linkbuilding to increase PageRank

Linkbuilding is a hotly debated topic among webmasters, as many have tried to game the system over the years, with varying degrees of success. Google is very clear on their policy about linkbuying. If you’re buying inbound links, they need to be identified as advertising by attaching a “no-follow” attribute. These paid or sponsored links do NOT count in the PageRank algorithm.

Google is constantly updating their algorithm to automatically detect unnatural link patterns, and they also have teams of analysts devoted to manual reviews. Penalties for link manipulation can be severe.

How to build links organically

  • Publish great content that other sites will want to link to
  • Add a contest, or a poll, or a widget to your website that people will want
  • Add a blog to your site and allow moderated comments
  • Allow guest bloggers to contribute to your blog
  • Offer to contribute a guest blog post to other sites
  • Build your social media presence, share your content there
  • Like, follow and share other people’s links – they will often reciprocate
  • Create a YouTube channel for your business and post some videos
  • Participate in industry-related events both online and in person
  • Become a contributing member of industry-related forums and groups online
  • Ask your partners, suppliers, consultants to link to your site
  • Get your business listed in influential online directories
  • Optimize your free business listings online
  • Add some outbound links from your site to authoritative sites in your industry
  • Ask for links

What is your PageRank?

There are a number of PageRank checkers online that you can use to find out what the PageRank is for any particular page, some are free and some are paid. Just Google “page rank checkers” and choose the one that works with your device and browser.