What is PageRank?

Many people who are involved in search engine optimization (SEO) will talk about PageRank. This odd term can leave a non-SEO person scratching their head asking “What is PageRank?”, “Should I increase PageRank on my site?” and “Will my site benefit from increased PageRank?” Let’s look at PageRank explained and see what the answers really are.

Much of the Google algorithm is based on a mysterious figure called PageRank. PageRank explained in simple terms is essentially a number that shows, in the big scheme of indexed pages, how important any one page is.

Two kinds of PageRank

The first thing to understand about PageRank is that there are two kinds of PageRank. There is the public or toolbar PageRank and the proprietary PageRank.

The public PageRank is often called the toolbar PageRank because it is visible on the Google toolbar. Toolbar PageRank is measured from 0 – 10 and is displayed as green pixels. Only one site on the internet has a toolbar PR of 10 and this is Google. The toolbar PageRank has very little bearing on actual rankings. The toolbar PageRank is only updated every 3 – 6 months and therefore, most of the time is sorely outdated.

While the toolbar PageRank has no direct bearing on the rankings, it can give you a general idea on how well a site or a page is doing in comparison to another page. A page that has a toolbar PageRank of 5 is a more powerful page, in the eyes of Google, than a page that has a toolbar PageRank of 4.

Proprietary PageRank

The proprietary PageRank is the score used by Google to help determine how a page should rank in the search engines. It is not visible to the public and there is no way to know exactly what your site’s proprietary PageRank is.

How to increase PageRank

Both toolbar and proprietary PageRank are based on a combination of the number of links that come into the target page and the PageRank of those pages that link to the target page compared to all of the pages indexed by Google.

In order to increase PageRank, for either the toolbar or proprietary, you need to increase the number of links and the strength of the links coming into your site and pages on your site at a faster rate than other sites and pages with similar PageRank.

Will my site benefit from increased PageRank?

While proprietary PageRank has bearing on ranking in the search engines, it is generally not advisable to concentrate solely on increased PageRank on the toolbar. This is because that an increased PageRank will not necessarily help you site in the search engines. A page that has a lower PageRank can rank better for a term, even a competitive term, if it is better aligned with other elements Google looks at with its ranking algorithm. Working to increase PageRank is just one of the many factors that go into SEO.

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