Understanding PageRank

As SEOs, one of the most important ranking factors we focus on is PageRank. There’s no missing it in the SEO realm – PR is a big deal and everyone wants to get their hands on some. However, in our haste to gather our high PR links, many of us completely misunderstand what it is we’re looking for. Here’s the big SEO blunder:

PageRank is NOT SiteRank!

Have you ever heard this phrase? “High PR forum backlinks”

If you see it, head for the hills because it is complete and utter nonsense. What these sellers are doing is purposely misidentifying their links to appeal to the not-so-savvy buyers. What they are saying is that the homepage of the forum has high PR so you will get high PR backlinks. Well, it’s just plain wrong regardless of if they understand PageRank or not. None of that link juice will actually make it to your newly created profile page.

The idea is really not too complicated: it is called PageRank because it is a value given to the specific page not the whole site. Otherwise it would be called SiteRank, but there is no such thing as that. Often times, we only focus on the PR of the homepage of a site which is why marketers start saying site XX has a PR of X. Rather, it should be stated that the homepage of site XX has a PR of X.

PageRank flows freely through links on the page which is why a high PR homepage will spread decent PR to all of the pages, internal and external, that it links to. To calculate the PR that any given page passes, you can use this simple equation:

PageRank divided by the total number of links on the page minus 10-15% PageRank decay.

For example:

PR 5 / 20 links = 0.25 PR – .025 (10%) = 0.225

In other words, if you get a link on a page that has a PR of 5 and there are 19 other links on the page, your link will receive 0.225 PageRank. This is why the number of outbound links is an extremely important factor when trying to get PR. When you see those high PR “dofollow” blog pages that have 50+ comments on them already (they’ve already been spammed) they are not very valuable anymore. Your time would be better spent on a lower PR page with fewer outbound links. Focus on the PR AND the number of outbound links because a PR 2 page can pass much more link juice to your site than a PR 5 depending on the amount of outbound links.

With all this obsessing over PR, you have to stop and wonder, is it really that important? I used to believe otherwise. Google has stated multiple times that it is just one of over 200 metrics for calculating rank, so stop worrying about it so much. However, the many other signs of authority a webpage has are inseparable or hard to separate from PageRank. In other words, a page with high PR likely has high scores for Trust and other ranking factors. These other factors, such as Trust, are somewhat mysterious and difficult to measure which is another reason for the obsession on PR. It’s so clean-cut and visible. This webpage is PR 4, that webpage has PR 3, 4 > 3 got it!

Don’t forget about relevancy when building links, anchor text and title tags are two very important factors to consider when link building. However, building links for PR is a good idea as long as you do it right. Make sure you are getting “dofollow” links and focus on the PageRank AND the number of outbound links.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 at 8:20 am and is filed under SEO. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

13 Responses to “Understanding PageRank”

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