February 11, 2008

"Page Rank will make you feel good, but higher conversions will make you rich."

When I first started working with the search engine optimization industry I was drawn to Google's page rank system. Google is - and most likely will continue to be - the largest search engine of our time, so when they say "we have created a system to rank webpages" you better pay attention.

If the leading search engine tells you that they have a way to monitor and rank your website, you would pay attention to what they have to say. And most web masters do. But some webmasters take the guidance from search engines like Google a bit too far.

Page Rank and linking = nasty taste in your mouth.

The problem with webmaster and search engine relationships arises when webmasters think that getting a high Page Rank from Google is essential to their website's success.

Surprise surprise, having a high Google Page Rank does not mean more traffic, more site conversions, and more popularity online. All a high Page Rank means is that Google thinks your website is fairly important.

And yeah, if Google thinks your website is important, that's great. And if you are building quality link partnerships with websites that Google thinks are important, that's great too.

But focusing on Google Page Rank will not - in any way, shape, or form - bring you more traffic. Focusing on getting a high Google Page Rank will not make you more sales, or higher click-through rates, or more subscribers. It won't.

So when webmasters focus on linking only with websites with high Page Rank, they are missing the point of Page Rank. In-fact: when webmasters focus on Page Rank at all, they are missing the point of Page Rank... which is authority and reputation.

I'm not that big of a deal, really.

If it's any consolation to those who believe Page Rank is almighty: ask your favorite bloggers how many subscribers they have, then look at the correlation to their blog's Page Rank. I am willing to bet that Page Rank has almost nothing to do with the amount of subscribers a blog gets. The content the blogger provides, as well as the networking they do on their own time, however, will greatly impact the number of subscribers that blog gets.

And what about online businesses? The Page Rank of a commerce site will NOT increase the amount of sales they receive. But selling a great product, on a great looking website, and focusing on gaining traffic (rather than high-quality links) will deliver more sales to that business. Guaranteed.

This blog, Internet Hunger, has a current Google Page Rank of 4 (higher than that of similar websites in the genre, and blogs that have been around much longer than Internet Hunger). And yet my traffic is less than that of other sites I run that have a Page Rank of 2 or less.

The rank doesn't matter, the marketing does.

Sure, linking with high Page Ranking websites is good for your relationship with Google, as a SEO I will never deny that fact. But there is bigger and better rewards to be sought by linking for traffic, and not for Page Rank.

So the next time you get an email request for a link on your website, look into the traffic rates and not so much the Page Rank.

Page Rank will make you feel good, but higher conversions will make you rich (and popular, and an authority, and powerful).


Manizesto said...

When you're trying to build a website, it's hard to tell how much progress you're making, but easy to look at your PageRank and give yourself a pat on the back for moving from a 2 to a 3 etc. It's also tempting to use Google's values to gauge the value of your website, which is obviously not the best thing to do.

I'm sure there's a correlation between a sites traffic, links and PageRank, but none of that matters if you can't get people to subscribe, buy something or otherwise do what you want them to do.

My question is whether people will still be paying attention to PageRank in five years?

nick said...

I agree with manizesto. PageRank is a great way to monitor the value of your site as you build it, but it should not be used as a ranking for your overall web site.

Juggling Jason said...

Wow, I didn't even know about this prior to this post! Any chance of a future article expounding on how to interpret page ranks?

Tanner Christensen said...

Manizesto: Obviously there is a correlation between the amount of traffic a site receives, the amount of links it has, and the Page Rank, but - like you said - none of that really matters much if the content of that website isn't providing any value to the visitors. Thanks for posting.

Nick: I agree, Page Rank isn't completely useless - and definitely should not be ignored - but it isn't the most important thing in the world for a website.

Jason: Definitely, I'll write up some articles on page ranking soon.

Preston said...

Oh wow. I had no idea!

Vlastimil said...

Nice post! Thanks Tanner!