A question I’ve been asked by a number of people concerns Google’s PageRank index: what it is, how is useful and how can it be improved. Because of this, I thought I’d just group them all up and make one post with them.
So, let’s start at the top. What is PageRank? This is an algorithm used by Google to help measure the relative importance of pages on the Internet. It was developed by the two founders of Google: Sergey Brin and Larry Page. In face the “Page” in PageRank allegedly was coined by Larry Page. The best description I’ve come across about how PageRank works is a description by Google:
PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important”.
How important is PageRank to you? Well, if you don’t own or run a website then the answer is “Not Very”. Google uses it to find the things you’re looking for on the Web, but you don’t need to worry about how it works. If you do run a website however, it’s good to know what your PageRank is and how you can improve it. There are a number of ways of finding out what your page rank is, ranging from running the Google Toolbar to websites that can tell you what it is.
And now for the $6 million question, how can PageRank be improved? Well, if you look at the description above you can gather that it depends on the number and quality of pages that link to your website. If you don’t have any pages linking to your website then your PR is going to be low. If you have thousands of high-quality pages linking to your website, this will push your PR up. There’s lots of debate around this topic on various webmaster and SEO forums. It’s also worth nothing that PR is something that is updated every few weeks by Google, so if your incoming links improve all of a sudden, it will take some time for this to be reflected in your PR.
My advice about the whole PR issue? Well Page Rank is simply one measure of the effectiveness of your website and focusing too much on this can be detrimental to your sanity. I would recommend that instead you focus on providing unique and valuable content on your website. If there is any real value there, people will have no problem linking to it and talking about it, and this will in turn elevante your PageRank. So stop worrying about the numbers and enjoy what you do!