Among marketers, SEO specialists, web masters and more, PageRank has been a much-debated topic in the last couple years. Among pretty much everyone else, its existence has gone unnoticed or remained a mystery, despite its impact on websites’ rankings and relevance. Now, PageRank may be falling by the wayside.
Let’s start from the beginning.
What is PageRank?
PageRank is what Google uses to determine the importance of a web page, and it has been one of many factors used to determine where your page appears in search results. Of course, where your page appears in search results is integral to how much traffic you’ll receive.
The sweet spot is those first five search results: according to Marketing Land, they account for 67.6% of all clicks. If your business doesn’t show up until page two or three of a search, you’re looking at less than 6% of clicks.
In the beginning, search engines ranked all websites equally and would provide results based on the content, keyword density, and meta tags within a page. PageRank revolutionized search engine rankings by adding one important factor: authority.
The PageRank algorithm—developed by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1995 at Stanford (and named after Page)—allowed Google to measure how likely it is for a visitor to reach a particular web page by clicking through other web pages.
The more content linking to your site, the more authoritative it becomes, and the higher it ranks.
What’s my ranking?
Essentially, PageRank measures a page’s importance, or relevance. Page and Brin believed that the most important pages on the Internet are those with the most links leading to them. Not only are authoritative sites linked to often, but sites that receive links from authoritative sources get a boost as well. Almost every search engine now uses some component of the PageRank system.
To find out your site’s PageRank, install the Google Toolbar. PageRank operates on a scale of 0 to 10, though some of the only sites with a PR10 ranking are the US Government, United Nations, and…Twitter.
Is PageRank still useful in determining relevance?
For a long time, declaring your site’s PageRank (“We’re a PR6!”) was a source of pride—and a great way to sell links. Even then, PageRank was never completely up to date, its toolbar and authority scores updated only every few months. Now its a moot point, as Google has announced it will likely never update its PageRank Toolbar again.
Though using PageRank as a selling or bragging point is increasingly futile, where your site places on a search engine results page (SERP) is still important. So what can you do?
Boosting page authority in the wake of PageRank
There are many marketing and SEO practices we use to encourage visitors to your site. Keyword-stuffing and link farming—shady practices that will get you a slap from Google—aren’t it.
Boosting your site’s authority is an undertaking that requires effort, creativity, and patience. Is your site designed optimally, or is it slowing viewers down? Is your content credible, shareable, and helpful? Does it answer questions or solve problems? Is it thoughtfully written and are you publishing it in the right places? Are your other marketing tactics focused on the right audience?
Powerful analytics tools are available to check website traffic and campaign performance, and Moz‘s Domain Authority and Page Authority are also quality metrics. Other ways to tell how you’re doing? Check backlinks yourself, and see how your content and your social media outreach is faring. Are people commenting, sharing, liking?
Inevitably, high quality content and thoughtful placement are some of your most powerful lead generators, and soon they’ll be doing the talking for you, more so than any number on a toolbar.
Does page authority factor into your marketing efforts? Tell us where you’re at.