Announcing a change to our series About Blogging… Since Jim Durbin, expert blog consultant from Durbin Media and Storkcalling.com, has been such an outstanding contributor to the column, we have decided to make it his column!
So please welcome Jim as our newest monthly columnist. (About Blogging will now run once a month.) Thanks so much Jim for joining our team – we are thrilled to have you on board!
If you are looking for Tackle It Tuesday – it is still here every Tuesday. Just scroll down or click here to find our latest tackle.
What is Page Rank and How Do I Get It?
Google PageRank, often abbreviated to PR, is defined simply as Google’s assessment of the importance of a particular web page or website. In the words of Ian Rogers:
“PageRank is a “vote”, by all the other pages on the Web, about how important a page is. A link to a page counts as a vote of support. If there’s no link there’s no support (but it’s an abstention from voting rather than a vote against the page).”
The purpose of a search engine is to find the most relevant information for you, the searcher. If you are looking for a recipe to bake chocolate chip cookies, and you type, “recipe for chocolate chip cookies” into a search engine, you’d expect to get listings back that give you recipes. A search engine that does that well, gains in popularity. One that does it poorly, stops getting used.
But there’s a lot of money in chocolate chip cookies, so companies try to manipulate the search engine rankings to make sure their websites rank higher than anyone else’s. This would be fine if it were just recipes, but the chip makers, stores that sell cookies, the brownie makers, and dentists who know that cookie eaters need check-ups all compete to get to the top of the SERP (search engine result pages), and the result is a lot of clutter and bad information.
To check your page rank, go to http://checkpagerank.com or http://www.checkpagerank.net, and type in your url. You can also use the Google Toolbar, though this is an advanced use and is not considered as accurate.
How Do I Improve PageRank?
If someone knew the complete answer to this, they’d be rich (or working at Google). Suffice it to say that Google doesn’t want people gaming the system, so they constantly change it to stay ahead of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Consultants. Ideally, the best way to improve your PageRank is to provide quality content in a manner that gives the search engines what they want – information relevant to the searches of their users.
There are several technical ways to improve your site infrastructure, but luckily for bloggers, most of them are already in place. A blog ranks high in search engines for several reasons.
- Blogs create topical content and update regularly.
- A Blog post is a new page, which helps grow the site and is looked on kindly by Search Engines.
- Blogs get lots of good incoming links from trusted sources. Incoming links are the key way for one website to “vote” for another. The more links you get, from high ranking sites, the higher your Page Rank.
Some companies pay for incoming links, or try to put their sites in directories with high PageRank to cheat the search engines. They also create fake pages, spawn new pages, and duplicate content – all considered “cheating” by the search engines. Cheating gets your site banned, which can cost tens of thousands of lost revenue from GoogleAds and sponsored ads.
So it’s big business. But for bloggers, search engines are a way to make a little money and also to get noticed. So the top things you can do are:
- Link out to your friends and other bloggers. Linking out is a nice way of saying thank you for ideas, pointing out good blog posts, and directing your readers to other sites. The more you link out, the more likely other sites are to link back to you. You want to be generous with your linking, but smart. Only create hyperlinks to people you like and respect. Never feel pressured to link someone just because they linked you. Link because you want to.
- Write great content. This should probably be first – but good content is the backbone of high PageRank. The newest algorithms search your page for keywords and context, which means that if you are writing intelligently about a topic, the search engine can “read” that and ranks you higher.
- Don’t pay for SEO, unless you know what you’re doing. There are not that many SEO consultants that know what they are doing. Most are untrained, and are as likely to hurt you as help you. If you own a business, and want to improve your rank with paid services, be aware that SEO is a strategy, not a quick fix. A good consultant will talk to you about content, structure, and strategy, and let you know this is a long-running campaign that you have to stay current on (read this as, keep paying money) to win. You’re far better off writing on your blog about your topic than you are paying someone for fake PageRank. Don’t be a victim.
Finally, recognize that PageRank is only part of the process of determining a website’s importance, and if you focus on it, you often lose the joy of blogging that led you to it in the first place.