An Introduction to PageRank™

How to Make PageRank™ Work for You

What became the juggernaut we know today as Google™ began as a paper written at Stanford University and named after its originating author, Larry Page. The paper outlined a revolutionary new algorithm for search probability called PageRank (after Larry Page). While the concept has been modified numerous times by numerous brilliant minds since then, it is still the basis for the Google search engine and all the functions and tools that depend on it. While the minutia of the PageRank algorithm are practically incomprehensible to all but the most advanced mathematicians, the better you can understand what variables you can control, the better you can make PageRank work for you by ranking your website higher for different search terms.

First, understand that PageRank is designed with the searcher in mind. Its purpose is to understand what the searcher is searching for and bring up everything that meets the criteria—or search terms—the searcher inputs, with the most relevant pages listed first. So as Web marketers concerned with organic search, relevancy is our goal for as many search terms as possible. Research has shown that most searchers only look at the first three pages of their search results, if that. The higher PageRank scores your Web page, the closer to the top of the search results your page gets listed.

According to Google, PageRank examines over 200 different variables to generate the most relevant list of Web pages for any given set of search parameters. Fortunately, we can narrow our focus to a manageable few, which we can separate into two general categories: off-page factors and on-page factors.

Off-Page Factors

Off-page factors are variables that PageRank uses that are not on your Web pages. While there are several, the main one you need to think about is Link Building. Think of link building as an election process. When site A holds a link to site B, it’s like a vote for site B within PageRank. The more sites you get to link to your site, the better your chances of a high search rank.

The natural conclusion here would be “the more links, the better”, but there are caveats you need to take into consideration. The value of the Web page linking to yours is a major factor. So sites that link to yours that are completely unrelated will have less value than highly rated sites that are very relevant to your site.

But that’s not all. The engineers at Google are keenly aware that their search algorithm is under constant attack by people trying to find ways to “cheat”, if you will. To combat them PageRank watches for unnatural link patterns. If your site has too many inbound links from only highly-ranked sites, it might seem as if you’re trying to trick the system with a sort of vertical link chain. Your search rank will suffer. Your goal should be to have an aggregate list of inbound links from sites with a wide range of page ranks. That’s the best way to generate and sustain a good healthy PageRank score naturally. 

On-Page Factors

We have heard for years that "Content is King." That phrase remains true. Google analyzes the full content of a Web page including:

  • Text 
  • Meta tags 
  • Anchor text 
  • Images

Meta Tags and Images are topics for a separate article. For now, let’s concentrate on text—also known as copy—and anchor text. Web crawlers, the software entities Google sends out to scan every Web page for PageRank evaluation, look closely at the text on a page to determine its relevancy to a search term. That means you need to make a list of the search terms you want to target and place those terms within the text of your Web pages.

Don’t try to write your copy while hitting every term in your list. If you do, you’ll end up with copy that doesn’t read well and sounds like you don’t speak English very well (assuming that’s the language in which you’re writing). Instead, begin by writing good copy that holds useful information that your audience will want to read. Once it’s written, go back over your list of search terms and see where in your copy you can place each term and still have it make sense. The more terms you can fit in, the better. Just don’t sacrifice the quality of your copy in order to do it.

Within the copy, anchor text is especially important. Anchor text is the words that are hyperlinked to other pages in your website. It passes page rank to other pages and gives visitors an easy way to navigate through a site. Place your anchor text strategically. For example if you were trying to get a high search rank for the phrase "dog collar" you would not want to your anchor text to read "Click Here to view our Dog Collars" with the " Click Here" being the text the link is on. A Google search on the term Click Here yields about 3.5 BILLION Web pages. It’s not a good way to make PageRank work for you. The better way to write the text would be:"Click Here to view our Dog Collars" with the link on the phrase “Dog Collars”. This makes the phrase "Dog Collars" more relevant to your site and helps your site rank better for that phrase with all search engines, not just Google.

With these strategies you will be on your way to getting listed on most search engines. If you need help with implementing any of these strategies, please utilize Crexendo Customer Support at (801) 234-5988.




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