PageRank: What Bloggers Need to Know and Do to Increase It

What you, dearest blogger, need to know about PageRank!

[This is part of the The Blogger’s Essential Guide to Search Engine Optimization Series.]

As a continuation to the previous blog post on optimizing your links for SEO I wanted to dedicate an entire blog post to one of the most important elements of link building: Link Quality.

You see, it just makes sense that all links are not created equal; and just like you’d trust your best friend with a advice over a complete stranger Google and the other major search engines take into consideration the quality of your blog and the links on your blog as you become a better and more trustworthy source of information.

One such value of measurement is Google’s PageRank and is considered one of the more significant measurements of trust, value, and authority as it relates to your blog site and the links that you create. Learning about PageRank can help you dramatically understand how search engines evaluate and prioritize search returns – and then you can begin to strategize on how to use and leverage your PageRank (PR) better.

What the Heck is PageRank?

Here’s what Google says about PageRank:

The basis of Google’s search technology is called PageRank™, and assigns an “importance” value to each page on the web and gives it a rank to determine how useful it is.

However, that’s not why it’s called PageRank. It’s actually named after Google co-founder Larry Page.

Not enough for you? Here’s what Google’s Technology says more in depth:

Google search works because it relies on the millions of individuals posting links on websites to help determine which other sites offer content of value.

We assess the importance of every web page using more than 200 signals and a variety of techniques, including our patented PageRank™ algorithm, which analyzes which sites have been “voted” to be the best sources of information by other pages across the web.

As the web gets bigger, this approach actually improves, as each new site is another point of information and another vote to be counted.

So essentially Google considers links as “votes” and the better the site (or blog) the higher the value of the votes are.

Larry Page, Google Co-Founder

Google’s system then counts the votes and value and determines through it’s search engine algorithm (or some crazy math) how to report back the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) to users. It also uses these calculations to help determine the value of the site itself as more quality links link back to the site.

It is, at the end of the day, both a way of describing the value (it’s tough to describe and qualify “value” but Google’s algorithm is getting better!) of a blog or site as well as describing the flow of value between sites.

What does this mean for your blog? Two things:

  1. The more quality links that point back to your site the better. Higher PR blogs and sites naturally give you more value.
  2. Sites that are linked from your blog are important and you have a responsibility to link well and properly.

Overtime your PageRank will increase if you continue to pump out great content and people link back to your site.

Oh, and by the way, PageRank typically has an acronym of PR so if a website has a PageRank of 10 you’ll see PR10. Get it? It doesn’t stand for “Public Relations” which I’ve heard before and have had to stifle a chuckle.

What is My PageRank?

There are a few ways that you can quickly determine your PageRank, the first being

You can easily enter your blog URL and it’ll spit back your current PageRank value. You can even install an icon on your site that’ll pull the value for you as well as share it with your readers:

Might be a good addition to your blog's sidebar?

Pretty neat, right?

Another option is to use Google’s Toolbar for FireFox or IE. Enabling it is pretty easy:

[tentblogger-youtube mWT3x6hYvk0]

Lots of people choose this option as it’s quite easy to check PageRank wherever you are!

Sad? Not necessarily.

Oh No! I Have a PageRank of 0!

So what happens if you have a PageRank of 0 (PR0)? What should you do? Well, for one, don’t stop blogging! But if you need some more “concrete” things to do then here are a few suggestions that might help.

There are a number of factors in play, some that you can control and some that you can’t – I’ve highlighted just the top-level considerations:

  1. Age – How old is your blog? If you’ve just started or are still pretty new to the scene then don’t expect to have a PR quite yet.
  2. Content – Are you creating original and compelling content? If you aren’t then it’s most likely not getting read by viewers and thus not getting linked to by other blogs and sites. Perhaps you’ll want to spend some time in this Blog Content Series to get some tips.
  3. Links – Related to the suggestion above you ultimately need to get some sites to link back to your blog. You could either have some of your other sites and blogs mentioning your new site or produce content that gets you linked and thus ranked. You could even add your blog to Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and DMOZ for starters as well.
  4. Technical – There are a number of technical aspects that can help increase your search engine ranking and PageRank and those include elements like the speed and response time of your blog, the quality of your hosting provider and server, the quality of the code that you’re using on your blog (or WordPress Theme), additional elements like CDN technology for your blog, options for caching and blog caching, and much, much more. You could spend a lot of time in this area (and perhaps you will) but you shouldn’t worry about too much of this at this point, especially if you’re new.
  5. Good SEO Strategies – And finally you’ll just want to practice good SEO strategies as well as learn as much as you can about “best practices” and techniques. Of course, if you’re following this series on SEO for bloggers then you’re going to have a good head start and foundation! I’m humbled and honored that you’d read my tutorials!

Ultimately as a blogger you’re going to really be able to control one major factor: Content. If you don’t create unique, compelling, and well-read content you won’t increase your PageRank, plain and simple.

But, if you do, then you’ll be rewarded, big time.

Finally, just because you have a PR0 doesn’t mean that you’re not being indexed in Google. For example, TentBlogger had a PR0 for it’s first 9 months yet had incredible organic traffic via every single major search engine!

Don’t be discouraged young blogger! It’s quite possible you still exist (and are getting search engine traffic) even if you stay at a PR0 for a bit of time.

How Important is PageRank for Your Blog?

This is a good question to answer and won’t take much time especially since Google’s pretty explicit about the importance of PageRank in their evaluation:

We assess the importance of every web page using more than 200 signals and a variety of techniques, including our patented PageRank™ algorithm, which analyzes which sites have been “voted” to be the best sources of information by other pages across the web.

They use more than 200+ signals (variables) to help calculate the overall value of your site and blog so although PageRank is important it’s not the only factor. The important thing to remember is if you obsess over PageRank then you’re most likely overlooking other valuable factors and you might do more harm than good.

Unfortunately there are a lot of ignorant bloggers and “consultants” out there that’ll shove PageRank down your throat as the definitive factor in your search engine ranking and I’ll just tell you now to ignore those clowns – they don’t know what they are talking about.

Does Having a High PR Rating Guarantee a High Search Engine Ranking?

The quick and easy answer to this is a resounding NO.

The simple fact is that even if you have a PR10 blog you won’t be guaranteed to rank high on every single keyword that you’re trying to blog about. If that was true then pretty much 99% of the internet would never be found because they’d be completely annihilated by other sites that have been around for years and have PageRank of 10.

But remember, Google and other search engines consider 200+ factors when ranking and returning search queries. Thank goodness, right? There’s still hope for your new and young blog!

It's not that complicated... right?

What is a Good Quality PR Link and Page?

There are a number of examples of good PageRank links and pages that you’ll want to capitalize on and this list isn’t supposed to be necessarily comprehensive but it’ll help provide an idea of the types of links that you’ll want to try to gain over time and might explain why your ranking is increasing (or not increasing) over time.

  • Backlinks – Pages with a lot of backlinks to a page will generally provide a good flow of PageRank to your blog as well if you find yourself listed as well. The quality of those backlinks are important to note as well and if they are good then you’ll see increased benefit as well. If they are of bad quality then it might not be good to be listed among them.
  • Homepage PR – A link from the main domain with a high PR is a good thing, especially if they have a lot of links to them and backlinks. Subpages are also good but those will may be newer pages with a smaller amount of links back to them.
  • Recent Cache Date – Any site or blog that hasn’t been accessed by Google isn’t being accessed by people (generally speaking). That’s why being linked on a good blog is so important since they are constantly updating their content and giving you more traffic and PageRank. That’s why it’s also important for you to be blogging regularly too.
  • Advertisements – Sites with spammy advertisements is just something you need to avoid and is not going to be a quality PR page and site to be linked from. That’s why understanding good advertising practices is so important – and newer updates to Google’s Search Engine ranking (“Panda Update”) is taking more of this into consideration.
  • Reasonable External Links on Pages – There are some pages and blog which have a lot of external links on them and are probably topping way beyond the recommended 100 links per page. It’s better to not be to be linked from these sites. This is also why I recommend not using blogrolls.
  • High Traffic Links – There are some sites and blogs that’ll link to you that have the potential for significantly high volumes of traffic but do not necessarily have a high PageRank. There are some that would ignore this and there are some who would opt for it, even if it uses a no-follow. It’s up to you but I think traffic can have a lot of other benefits besides just PR.
  • Images – Images are very search engine friendly and can provide a lot of traffic and pass PageRank to your blog. There are some optimizers who won’t try to get linked on blogs that don’t service images because images bring more traffic to blog posts and dynamic content (thus more possibility of increased PR) and it makes sense.

There are, of course, many other link and page factors that you could consider but this should be a good place to start.

PageRank Summary and Conclusion

Whew! You made it.

Understanding PageRank isn’t supposed to be difficult or complicated and if any SEO professional tells you it is then they don’t understand it themselves!

Sure, you could study the in-depth algorithms (like the image above) but you don’t need them to do quite well! But for those that need a general summary, here you go:

  • PageRank is important to know about and understand.
  • PageRank is the relative value (importance) of a page.
  • PageRank also describes the passing of that value between pages.
  • PageRank is one of many factors that Google considers. It is not the defining factor but one of the factors.
  • PageRank does not guarantee a high search engine ranking for a return.
  • PageRank can be increased by good content, quality links, technical upgrades, and the implementation of other good SEO strategies.
  • PageRank is done and achieved better and more effectively when you don’t obsess about it. Trust me.

Good luck and be fruitful with your PR bloggers! Let me know if you have any questions!
[This is part of the The Blogger’s Essential Guide to Search Engine Optimization Series.]