How Much Does PageRank Matter?

Google & SEO | April 27th 2010

PageRank is one of the factors Google uses when it decides how high a website will appear in the results of a Google search. It is probably the most well-known of these factors, and many website owners become fixated on the PageRank meter, which many of you might be familiar with, if you have the Google Toolbar installed. The green rating bar is Google’s way of quickly telling us if a page comes from a high-quality site worth checking out. When you are on  your Wix website builder, the more green you see, the higher your page’s PageRank.

page-rank-3

Links = Votes for PageRank

PageRank indicates the relevant importance of a web page, compared to all other pages on the internet.  A Google patented algorithm is used to assign each web page’s PageRank, the details of which are protected by Google to minimize the manipulation of PageRank by webmasters.  What we do know, is that Google takes into account both the amount of links there are pointing to a page, and the quality of those links, when determining that page’s PageRank.

Each link to a page is considered by Google to be a “vote” for that page, a concept explained in our blog post last week about gaining backlinks to your website. But it’s not just the amount of votes that matter – it’s who cast them.  Links from reputable, high-quality websites carry more SEO juice. Having only one link from The New York Times is worth more than having ten links from your best friend’s blog (unless your best friend blogs at The New York Times).

But watch out for B.O.!  Otherwise known as “Backlink Obsession”

There are several reasons why Google’s PageRank metric should not be something you spend an inordinate amount of attention on, when optimizing your Wix website.

“Toolbar” PageRank v. Actual PageRank

The PageRank scores that Google allows the world to see are only updated as often as Google takes a snapshot of that page’s PageRank. These snapshots occur 2-4 times a year, on an unpublished schedule. The last update occurred just a few weeks ago, on April 3rd. This means if you have a newly created Wix website, your PageRank will be pretty low or nonexistent, as reported in the Google Toolbar. Yet, after a few weeks, you’ll likely have gained some internal PageRank as well as some more traffic to your site.  However, your old score will be shown, until Google takes its next snapshot.

Anchor Text as a Boost for Keywords

The anchor texts of your backlinks can be more important than the links themselves and whether they come from pages with high PageRanks.  This is because links pointing at your website that contain relevant keywords will help you rank better for those words. Links pointing at your website that mention you by name, will cause you to rank higher when a search is performed for your name.

For example, suppose your Wix website is for a bakery, “Granny’s Pies”.  Getting backlinks from high PR websites with anchortext “Granny’s Pie’s” will cause some of the PageRank importance to trickle over onto your site.  However, backlinks from lower PR websites that include one of your keywords in the anchortext can help you get ranked better for those keywords.  If a lower PR site links to “Granny’s Bakery”, it will help with your ranking for the keyword “bakery”.

It’s Not All About PR

Say you’re searching for “movies”.  Movies.com has a lower PageRank than Hulu.com, but the page with the lower PR actually comes up first in a search for “movies”. (Hulu actually ranks 7th in terms of relevance for the keyword “movies”, even though its PR is the highest!)

Search Results Based on Relevance


Search Results for PageRank

This data was found using the PageRank Search tool at SEO Chat. It proves that Google considers factors other than PR, when it delivers results for a search, like relevancy of keywords.

Scientific Proof!

A recent blog post at SEOmoz included results from a data-based study conducted on how well PageRank correlates to search engine rankings. Their study demonstrated that although the PageRank of a website is in fact correlated with that site’s listing in Google (as well as other search engines), other site metrics are much better indicators of a website’s ranking (i.e. the Yahoo! Site Explorer tool we outlined in last week’s post about gaining backlinks).

Key Points:

•    Older sites are favored by PageRank, since it is not regularly updated
•    PageRank is only one of 200 factors that determine your website’s SERP rank (listing on a web page).
•    The anchor text of your backlinks can be much more important than the providing page’s PageRank
•    To find good linking sources, don’t focus on PageRank, but rather search rank.  See which pages come up when you search for words you’d like your site to rank for.  The pages that come up are the ones you should seek links from.

Better Ways to Use Your Time:

•    Work on your keyword analysis
•    Add fresh content
•    Consider new “hooks” or ways to attract new visitors to your site
•    Focus on ways to improve conversion once visitors are in your site

Good Luck!


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