Demystifying SEO Part 2: Defining and Understanding PageRank

When Google was first starting out Larry Page, one of the co-founders and current CEO, created a system for determining the relative value of a website. This stat became known as PageRank. (Why yes, I do love random factoids, why do you ask?)

The PageRank of your site depends on a few key factors and most of them should be viewed from a dispassionate perspective.

Keep in mind that PageRank is a Google specific attribute, other search engines will have somewhat similar ranking factors.

1) How committed are you to this site?

This is determined by looking at how long the site has been in existence and how long the domain name is registered. Spam sites, splogs, and other low quality sites tend to be like those pop-up stores in the mall. They show up, sell a bunch of crap, and disappear before returns can be made.

2) How many other sites link to a site?

A site can exist for years as a tiny little content silo. It may contain a wealth of valuable information, but if there is no traffic in or out, it’s a little like the Weber family in Blast from the Past. There was a lot of life happening in that little bomb shelter, but it existed without any interaction with the rest of the world.

People who practice black or gray hat SEO try to game this system by purchasing links. Purchasing links is considered buying value and is against Google’s TOS.

Organic growth occurs as your site is discovered and linked to by other site creators. The more PageRank these creators have, the more your PageRank will increase. Many people refer to this flow of authority as Google Juice. If I say I’m going to send a little Google Juice your way, put down the straw, I’m just going to tell Google that your site has value.

2) The comprehensiveness of the web page.

A page with only a paragraph of text is unlikely to contain as much depth on a topic when compared to a page with a thousand words. Thin or shallow content is generally considered less valuable than rich, focused content.

3) The relative “freshness” of a site or page.

Search engines understand -to a point- that many topics are constantly evolving, when searching for the weather, chances are you want today’s weather, not last month’s or last year’s. The weight of this factor depends heavily on the type of content.

4) The speed of your site

This sounds unrelated, but Google wants to provide its users with the best possible online experience. Sitting in front of a computer monitor and twiddling your thumbs is not exactly enjoyable. To help increase your site’s PageRank, keep an eye on your site’s load time. You can use IsMyBlogWorking.com to see how quickly your site loads.

Next up: Google Panda

(Image Credit: DVIDSHUB)

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