What is Google PageRank?
Well it is a tool invented by Google to help determine how relevant a webpage is to a given topic. First introduced during foundation days of Google by Larry Page (Co-Founder of Google) who felt it was their “key innovation” because it helped them deliver the most relevant search results. Today, it is still a good gauge on relevance, but it should not be given too much glorification. It is NOT the only determining factor influencing Google search results. Truth be told, content is still the biggest factor! Lets look at content and PageRank in a little more detail.

How Does PageRank Work?
PageRank is a ranking scale from 1 – 10. The higher the PageRank number the better. Most often web pages have between a 1 – 4. Pages with ranks higher than 7 are considered to have a lot of relevance to a topic. Google looks at several factors to determine a rank value, such as content topic, content volume, number of inbound links to the page, the page rank of those sites linking to the page, and the volume of traffic sent to the page from the Google search engine (just to name a few). I’m sure they have other secret factors too! Notice I’ve specifically focused on “pages” and not “sites”. That’s because a web site as a whole, does not get a rank. The pages within the site are ranked. This is very important to understand. Too many website owners look up the PageRank of their homepage and think that is the rank for the entire site. Unfortunately the homepage most often has the least amount of content and is therefore the least relevant to any topic. On-the-other-hand, it may have a lot of inbound links. As a result, the PageRank for this page is often an unreliable gauge. Website owners should conduct a PageRank check on each page of their site. They will likely be surprised to find out core pages will have a higher PageRank value than the homepage. It is also a good indicator of the most valuable content on your site.

Can PageRank be Improved?
Fortunately PageRank is not static. It is updated weekly by Google. As a result PageRank values continually fluctuate. To improve PageRank you have to look at what factors influence the rank value. As stated above, content is the most important factor. It is also the easiest to improve. Write more elaborately, and more specifically about a topic. Make your content really valuable to readers. It is not necessary to change the content on a page frequently. Although it does help to regularly add more, it can actually hurt your PageRank if you remove good relevant content!

Another key factor are inbound links (links from other sites into your page). The PageRank of the page linking to yours is as important as the link itself. Pages with high PageRank are already considered to be very relevant to a topic. If that topic is similar to the topic on your page Google likes this! Therefore, look for sites that have similar content to yours. Would users on their site benefit from having a link to your page? Does the content on your page add value to the content on some other site? If so, then seek out the site owners / writers and see if they will add a link to your site. If you’re right, it will benefit both sites, and most importantly… users! When you do get a link added to your page, ideally the link should use words that relate to the topic found on your page. It should be short but descriptive. And, it should link directly to your topic page, not your homepage!

If you improve your content and increase the number of quality inbound links it will definitely improve your PageRank. Google Loves popular content!

Content vs. PageRank Influencing Search Listings.
When competing with other listings for a given topic, often times pages with higher PageRank do get listed first. However, this is NOT true in all cases. Many times pages with a low PageRank will get listed first. Why? Well because PageRank is NOT the only factor. Google is smart. Really smart! They watch everything, and they tell us almost nothing! Their algorithm considers a lot of information before it determines what pages to list in their search results. One thing to remember is content should never be overshadowed by PageRank. Focusing on good rich content will result in a favorable PageRank, a good listing and a happy customer. By contrast, focusing on PageRank will distract from writing good content and will only result in a poor listing and a frustrated customer. Therefore, Content wins! Good content will naturally generate a good PageRank all on its own, given a little time.

For more information on the topic of PageRank I recommend the following resources:

Google Corporate Technology Overview

Google PageRank – What is Google PageRank? How does pagerank affect your site?

Check PageRank on your web pages instantly!

By Kevin MacDonald, President, Technivision