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Wednesday, June 20, 2007


A lot of website owners are upset or puzzled when their website's Google PageRank goes down or does not rise. Is it worth losing any sleep over changes in that green line and number that appear in a Google tool bar at the top of your browser? I think that excessive worry or thought about PageRank is not constructive, and it is better to put it all in perspective by taking a rational look at what PageRank is and what it is not.

First of all the concept behind PageRank is indeed at the heart of Google's ranking process. The Google founders came from academia and they noticed that in many academic documents some sources were continually cited. They reasoned that if a particular document such as a book or research paper was mentioned in many places then it must be important. They applied this to the web and assumed that if one website links to another it is in fact, giving a "vote" for that site. A website that has many incoming links must have a certain degree of importance. In the current Google algorithm the quantity and quality of incoming links is certainly a factor in deciding the ranking of a particular website for any given search-query.

Think about it. In the early days of the web people would build websites and then they would tell their visitors to chëck out other "cool" sites and they would link to these sites. This is the process of natural linking and it still goes on. If you really have good content, people will link to you without letting you know. Similarly, if your name is Bob Dylan and your website is BobDylan.com, thousands of people will link to you without you having to send a cheesy email begging for a link.

Various government agencies, educational institutions, established companies and anyone else who is "big" in the "real world" is likely to also be big on the Internet simply by virtue of their previous fame and accomplishment. Google's ranking system took this into consideration and this is one of the reasons why Google is currently the number one search engine. It gives better results and that is why people use it.

But, does that mean that only the big players can be seen on the net? Far from it. While there is a difference between one guy working in his house with one computer and a corporate giant with a whole staff, and this is indeed reflected in rankings, the Internet provides a much leveler playing field than in yesteryear.

Prior to 1995, it would have been very hard for someone to spread their news and views far and wide as bloggers do today. It costs millíons of dollars to publish a daily newspaper or to print and circulate a magazine, but it costs far less to publish a website or a blog, and lots of "little guys" have taken advantage of the power of the Internet.

But what about PageRank, how much of it do I really need to get my site noticed? For those who are not familiar with the PageRank system. Google supplies a tool bar which you can download and install on your browser. If you make a complete installation with all the advanced features, then every time you open a new website you will see a green and white bar with the label PageRank. Put your mouse on the bar and you will see a number from 0 to 10. If a website is not indexed by Google or banned by Google, the bar may be grey or all white.

But what do the numbers mean? I had a client who was worried about his number 3 PageRank figure and based on my observation I answered him with my unofficial view on the rankings.
Here is how I currently see it:
PageRank 0-2 shows that a site does not have many links and needs work, However, and this a big "however," it may not really affect your search engine rankings. I have a client with a page rank of 2 and his site ranks well, even number one, for several search terms in a fairly competitive industrial category. So PageRank is not everything; it may have an impact on your rankings and traffíc, but in some cases it may not matter. In any case if you have a PageRank of 0-2, you can work on it through proper link building activity which I will explain at the end of the article.

PageRank 3 can be OK in some cases but in highly competitive industries you should work to improve it.

PageRank 4 is quite a normal number and indicates that you have enough links in either quantity or quality to make your site competitive.

PageRank 5 indicates that a site has many links or links from authoritative sites, and that Google has good "trust" in the site. It is a respectable and attainable PageRank.

PageRank 6 is very difficult to attain. This rank indicates that the site has many links and links from respected places. Remember the example of BobDylan.com which I mentioned above; it has a PageRank 6, so you can get an idea of the difficulty involved.

PageRank 7-10 is usually earned by large and established institutions or websites which have tremendous authority, due to the quantity and quality of the incoming links. It is extremely difficult to attain this ranking. You really have to be special to get it.

So, don't worry excessively about PageRank. First look at your traffíc, then look at your sales and finally at your bottom line. They are the important numbers to watch. If you want to íncrease your traffíc and also PageRank, then here are a few steps that you can take:

1. Add content to your website. Make your website so good and so useful that people will link to you without you asking for a link.

2. Write articles and get them published on other websites and blogs with a link back to your site.

3. Distribute online press releases

4. Judiciously exchange links, or even better, exchange content (containing links back to your site) with other websites.

5. Get your site listed in online directories.
These efforts will certainly help you to build targeted traffíc, and they most probably will also help you to increase your PageRank as well.

Special thanks to Don Nelson for the post!

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