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Ken Taylor, KT Communications, Monaghan
- "DG approached us, understanding our needs. We have found them attentive and patient with the ever changing scope of the job." ...
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What Is PageRank?
(Article first published in December '11. It has been modified slightly to suit its publication on our site)
One of the major factors in how well your website performs in search results is based on something that few people know about and even less understand. This trade secret is called "PageRank". I don't profess to being an expert in the area of SEO, but I am in the top percentile when it comes to SEO knowledge and even I don't truly understand the real details behind how it works. I guess only a few people who work for Google do. Despite this I will try to explain what this mystical website talisman is and how you can harness its power.
Firstly, PageRank (the lack of a space between the words is intentional) does NOT simply mean the position of your website in search results. It does ultimately influence this, but to boil it down to such a simplistic analogy is like trying to describe the size of the universe as "really, really big".
Why is it called PageRank? Well the "Page" part comes from its creator's surname, Larry Page (one of the co-founders of Google), who created the algorithm/formula in 1998. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it is the cornerstone of how the Google search engine ranks websites against each other.
So what is PageRank, or PR for short? It's a score from 0 to 10, given to a website by Google. Realistically most SME businesses should never expect to achieve higher than 6. Only large multi-national corporate brands are able to achieve higher and only the rare few are given 10 out of 10 (two of those being Facebook and Twitter). So as a small or medium sized business owner you should expect to score anywhere from 0 to 6.
PageRank was created to solve an issue of trust in search results. Prior to Google, search engines used different methods to rank results and some even took payments to prioritise rankings. This made web surfers mistrustful of the results they saw. Larry Page's approach provided a better way of delivering ranked results by using this element of trust in his formula.
PageRank uses many factors to build up this 0 to 10 "trust" rating for each website. It uses a number of factors to basically build up a picture, or profile, of the site in question. The more factors that apply to your website the more trust Google has in your site and the higher the score. The factors include:
The number of websites that link to the site (especially other high PageRank sites that link to it)
Link building is a key factor in increasing PageRank. Think of it as endorsements of your site. In other words, if your site is important enough for people to link to it then it must be trustworthy. The more the links, the more trust. It also stands to reason that if a site with a PageRank of 8 links to your site then your site must be important and so your PageRank receives a boost.
Because of this website owners started to exchange links with each other, but this is ultimately fruitless as Google tracks the outbound links from your site and effectively discounts inbound links from sites that you link to. The moral is that Google prioritises natural link-building. This is a real good reason for having a social media strategy where every story you write can contain a link back to your website. It's also a really good reason to create unique content for your site as this means that people will link back to that content, which gives you a PR boost.
The quality and relevance of the content on the site
As mentioned above, if you have lots of unique content then people will link to it, but it goes further than this. If you are writing lots of content then you are investing in your website and therefore you must be more trustworthy. DO NOT be tempted to copy content from other websites. Google checks for duplicate content and will penalise sites that copy from others!
The overall age of the domain
Not something you can do much about and it doesn't help to buy a domain that's been around a while as on its own it doesn't help much. But together with everything else it adds to the trust picture.
The volume of traffic to your website
It makes sense high PR and high traffic go hand in hand. It therefore also stands to reason that increasing the traffic to your website can therefore help to increase your PR. There are lots of ways to do this that include online advertising and social media campaigns.
The number of pages
Like the discussion on content, if your website has a large number of pages then it infers to Google that your site is more important. This makes sense as building a site with 100 pages takes a great deal more effort and money than building a 5 page website. However the same warning about duplicating content in order to build page count applies. Google WILL figure it out and your site will be penalised.
The quality of the SEO (search engine optimisation)
Optimising your website makes sense and I have seen that well optimised sites ultimately enjoy increased PR, which further helps their results ranking. Good quality SEO makes the content more relevant to specific searches and it also makes your website more accessible to search engines.
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Franco De Bonis has worked in the field of sales and marketing promotion since 1990 and was most recently the global marketing manager for a major international technology company before setting up The DG Group in January 2007.
Franco De Bonis is a marketing professional with a unique view on the world of marketing and co-owner of The DG Group. Franco has worked in the field of sales and marketing promotion for over 20 years and was most recently the global marketing manager for Creative Labs before setting up The DG Group in January 2007.