June 20, 2007

What is Google Page Rank, and how can I improve my ranking?

Google uses its Page Rank (PR) system to determine how sites rank, and in which order, in their search results; so, the higher a web site's page rank, the higher it will feature in search results.

The page rank system is based on an equation which looks something like this:

PR(A) = (1-d) + d(PR(t1)/C(t1) + ... + PR(tn)/C(tn))

Quite confusing, isn't it? However, we can think of it in a simpler way: Page Rank = 0.15 + 0.85 * (a "share" of the page rank of every page which links to it). Of course, the real equation is Google's secret formula, developed so that it cannot be "cheated" by spammers!

Here's how Google describe their Page Rank system:

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 considerably more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; for example, 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." Using these and other factors, Google provides its views on pages' relative importance. (Source: Google)

So does this mean that the more sites link to your blog, the better your page rank will be? Possibly, but in reality a blog's authority will depend much more heavily on the quality of writing, and accessibility of information. The best way to improve your page rank is to provide quality information in your posts in a manner which is easy for search engines to read.

How do I check my page rank?

There are many online services available which you can use to check your Page Rank, such as:

These are very simple to use: simply enter the URL of your blog and submit; your page ranking should follow, possibly with explanations of how other factors (such as DMOZ inclusion) affect this. Do be aware that if your blog is relatively new (under a few months old), your page rank may not yet be available.

How can I improve my page rank?

Believe it or not, as a blogger you are well on your way to improving your page rank already, simply by updating your blog on a regular basis, creating topical content and linking to your blogging friends! To help get the ball rolling a little faster, here are some more tips:

  • Write great content! This is probably the most important thing any blogger can do to improve their page rank. If your posts are good to read and contain useful information, it's more likely that people will link back to you, thus ensuring "votes" from across the bloggosphere for your blog!
  • Use "post pages": that is, ensure each post has it's own page. This increases the size of your blog and helps search engines find the information faster.
  • Be smart with your use of "keywords": try to focus on keywords which adequately describe the content of your posts; have these in the title of your post, especially in the first few words, as these will be picked up from the URL of your post pages.

Jim Durbin at 5 Minutes forMom has written a great post about blogs and Page Ranking, which is well worth a look if you're relatively new to the subject!

Finally, don't be too concerned about your page rank! It can take months, and even years for a blog to become well established, and worrying about how well your blog ranks in search engines can only distract you from the reason you started blogging in the first place: to write well and have your voice heard (or should I say, "read"?).

As I mentioned earlier, a blog's authority is much more dependent on the quality of writing than how many people link to it! If the latter was the case, then sneaky spammers would have a higher page ranking than Google themselves! Writing great content will always develop your readership, so ensure this is your first priority!

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