Understanding Google’s PageRank


Digital Marketing


Google is undoubtedly the most commonly used website when browsing on the web (aside from Facebook or Twitter). Google is a search engine, in other words it searches the internet for websites that are related to the words that are typed in the search bar. But what determines which websites get on the first page of the results? This is where page-ranking or PR comes in. All search engines use some sort of PR formula to determine which websites get on the first page of the results. We’ll focus on Google because just about everyone uses Google.com.

Page Rank

Google’s PR is basically a formula or an algorithm which calculates a website’s score based on the number of external and internal links. It also includes the website’s webpage criteria and where that is being linked from. It means that it includes in its calculation not only the website being ranked but how it is related or being linked by or to other websites as well. The calculation itself is complex but we’ll try to simplify that as we go. It is possible to know the PR of a website by downloading a specific google toolbar.

It’s called PageRank because the algorithm was first developed by Standford University’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They formulated it for part of a research on a new type of search engine. They wanted to rank websites based on its “link popularity”.  They determined that a website is more popular if there are more links that link to it. Eventually, Page and Brin founded Google and provides the same algorithm for all of it is search tools.

Links: Internal

Internal linking (i.e. how the webpages in the websites are linked to itself and each other) plays a key role in determining PR.  There is a certain way of arranging how the different pages are linked to each other within the website. The homepage (index.htm) most commonly has the highest page rank. Let’s have an example to make it clearer. For example, the homepage of the website has a PR of 10. This means that it also has a good number of links from other websites with a PR of 10 or higher. The next level of webpages (2nd level webpages or pages that link directly from the homepage) will have 1 rank lower, in this case PR 9. The 2nd level webpages should be linked to one another (but will not affect the PR). The tertiary and quaternary level pages (3rd and 4th level webpages) will have 1 and 2 ranks lower from the 2nd level webpages (8 and 7 respectively).

If you’ve noticed that the deeper into the website you go, the lesser is the page rank. There are many theories that surround why this is so, most people think that it’s because the deeper it is in the website, the lesser the internal links (because it tends to become more specific in content) and even lesser external links.Improving links within the website tends to improve the webpages’ PR but always remember to link only relevant pages. It helps to improve PR by using the keywords as links and using standard HREF linking (search engine bots tend to get attracted by them).

Links: External

Perhaps a greater part of the PR is the external link. However, this is much more difficult to attain because unlike the internal links, the external links (i.e. links to other websites) are harder or beyond your control. It is very difficult to coerce websites into linking to your own site most especially if they already have a high PR. Google hasn’t revealed how much effect does external linking have on websites but it is very evident that it has a big effect thus making external linking very important to further increase PR. It is known, however; that the PR plays a vital role in determining a website’s position in Google indexing and ranking.

To simplify PR by external linking, let’s take your own website (which we will call site X) with a PR of 5. Scoring is based on the rank of site X and variables within the pages of links that link to X. suppose site Y will link to site X, this counts as a “vote” for page X and if it has a PR that is higher than X, then it will affect X positively. Even more so if another site, Z will link to page X. however, if the linking site has a lower PR than X, it will not pull down the PR of X nor will it affect it positively. The thing to remember here is that, sites Y and Z should have relevant content to X itself in order for it to have any effect at all.

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