7th July 2011 | Blog, Latest Articles

In 1996 Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s thesis on how to produce a more effective way of ranking search results, revolutionised the internet economy. As a result of their research efforts, Google is now the leading online search engine in the race to deliver relevant and effective search results.

What Page and Brin suggested in their thesis, became the back-bone of Google’s Search Engine Result Ranking (SERP). The “Page Rank” topic continues to generate global interest and understanding how your Page Rank value can influence and increase you Search Engine Ranking position (SERP) can be a valuable asset to your business.

Page Rank has generated a great deal of interest because it is believed to be a major determining factor in increasing both the visibility and accessibility of your website. There are differing opinions regarding the degree to which Page Rank can help your SERP (search engine rank position) but most experts agree that a positive PR is good for your website. If nothing else, a website which displays a high PR when a visitor enters that site has a great impact on the user.

What is Page Rank?

Page Rank is based on the principle of connectivity and indicates the value or importance that Google assigns to different web pages and sites for its own indexing purposes. Page Rank is one of the methods that Google use to determine the importance of a web page, based on its online popularity and links from other websites. If you have a high Page Rank, the perceived value of your website content in relation to similar websites and pages on the internet will be greater.

How Page Rank works

Page rank is based on the Google Algorithm which can be seen as a mathematical platform from where information is processed, prioritised and sorted. During the process of sorting through and indexing online information, Google will select certain content pages to appear in a specific order on the search result page. Page Rank enables Google to assign value or weight to websites and pages through an intelligent inter linking system. This means that your Page Rank value will mostly depend on the reputation and amount of web pages and sites that link to your site.

The Google Algorithm was originally described in simplistic mathematical terms but the evolving nature of the web and the influx of online information have forced Google to be more discreet about their Page Ranking approach. In order to cultivate a higher level of online immunity against spamming and search engine manipulation, Google has now made it difficult for people to determine the exact nature of their algorithm.

Linking

Google will determine the importance of your website through link-analysis. What this means is that Google will assess the amount and legitimacy of the various sites that link to your website or page.

On the internet, each inbound link (links that are made to your site from other websites) counts as a vote for your site. The more votes your website receives, the more important Google will assume the content of your website is. It is important to remember that Google is aiming to display online search results that will provide searchers with content that is both relevant and truthful. If your website is linked to by many other pages, you could be seen as a major source of information and this will better your chances of ranking high on the search result display page.

Vote Value

A link that is made to your website from another site is seen as a “vote” for your website. Each inbound link advocates your online credibility in the eyes of Google’s Search Engine and each vote (link) carries a different value, hence the term “vote value”.

The amount and depth of your website’s inbound links as well as the Page Rank of the website that link to you, will determine the numerical value (Page Rank Value) that Google assigns to your website or page.

A Page Rank value between 0 and 10 will appear in your Google Toolbar (this toolbar can easily be installed online), 10 indicating the highest value that a page can have. If a site with a high Page Rank links itself o your site, your Page Rank will atomically increase. The amount, with which your Page Rank will increase, will depend on the amount of outbound links that have already been made by the linking site.

It is important to note that a website cannot decrease its page rank through having outbound links but a website’s “vote value” is evenly distributed amongst the different websites or pages to which it links itself. If the website that links itself to your web page has a high amount of outbound links, it might minimise the direct value of the vote given (link made) to your site.

Genuine and Estimated Page Rank Value

To explain Page Rank in simpler terms, we will make a distinction between “Genuine” Page Rank and “Estimated” Page Rank”. The general belief is that the “Genuine” Page Rank value that your website holds in the eyes of Google, will never be disclosed to the public. Due to spamming and search engine manipulation, Google has reserved all rights to the specific nature of the algorithm that they employ for ranking search results. The public can however view the Page Rank Estimate of websites. This estimate is mostly an indication of the amount and nature of inbound links to that specific website or page.

The numerical page rank value that is displayed on the Google toolbar at the top of every site is merely an indication of what the estimated value or importance of your site is in the eyes of Google. The Page Rank displayed on the top of your Google toolbar can be seen as an “estimated value” of the search engine importance that Google attributes to a website. You will find that the estimated Page Rank value does not always correlate with how a page will rank on the actual search results page.

Page Rank and online visibility

In terms of visual impact, a high page rank will give your website a more reputable appearance in the eyes of the public. Having a high page rank is important because Google crawls the web consecutively, starting with the websites that have the highest page rank. A high page rank could increase the chances of your website being crawled more often by the Googlebot.

Research has shown that most online users don’t make it past page two of the search result display page. Your Search Engine Ranking Position (SERP) will therefore have a direct influence on your online visibility. The first two pages that are displayed in the search results with automatically enjoy greater exposure, hence the emphasis that people place on Google’s SERP. The conclusion would therefore be that featuring at the top of the search results list is a highly favourable position in the global scope of internet marketing.

Many factors come into play when Google determines the ranking position of a website for search results. However, there are certain things that Google take into account during the process of indexing pages and assigning a Page Rank value. To increase the probability of increasing your Search Engine Result Position (SERP), we would suggest you take note of the following:

  • Choosing a good web-hosting provider is important and should be carefully considered when you start out
  • Simplify and structure your site for Google’s crawling purposes
  • Your site navigation should be simple, symmetrical and accessible
  • Limit the depth and span of your site
  • The size of every page should be less than 100k
  • Your URL should not contain too many parameters
  • The emphasis is now on quality and duplicating content will not benefit you
  • Test that the pages of your site are not too similar
  • The domain name is the most important part of your URL
  • Google remembers internal links and will eventually follow each link
  • The value or weight of a linking page is very important to Google. Having pages with high page ranks that link to you will increase your page rank value
  • Keyword research is an important SEO step and can benefit your Page Rank

Page Rank in the greater scheme of things

The truth of the matter remains that Page Rank is not the only factor that constitutes a healthy marketing strategy. A lot of businesses over-emphasise the significance of Page Rank, often neglecting other marketing campaigns, which could prove to be more fruitful. Don’t spend countless hours trying to outsmart Google’s algorithm because in all likely hood it will change again in a few months. Aiming to capitalise on the Page Rank buzz could lead to an economical predicament if a holistic marketing strategy is not already set in place.