March 4, 2008

"How should a webmaster interpret Google Page Rank, and why?"

A few weeks ago I wrote about how webmasters who focus on Google's Page Rank are idiots, but what, exactly, is Page Rank? Better yet: how should a webmaster interpret Google Page Rank, and why?

The birth of Google's Page Rank.

In order to fully understand Page Rank, you need to first understand where it came from. Even if you already know, it's always a good idea to remind yourself. So...

Long ago, when search engines first became a big part of the online world, the search engine companies (like Google) realized that they needed a powerful, mathematical, and reliable way to determine how important websites are, and - as a result - which websites should appear in the search engine result pages when someone searches for a keyword.

The search engines quickly came up with networking link analysis, or: the more links a website has, the more important it must be.

And it made sense (at the time).

If a lot of websites are pointing to a specific website, that specific website must be pretty important, right? And if all of the websites linking to the specific website are linking with the keyword "bananas", then it's safe to assume that the specific website is a great "banana"-related website. Therefore, if someone goes to a search engine and types in "bananas" they would expect to see the great banana-related website that is getting a lot of attention from other websites.

Google (being the brilliant company they are/were) took link analysis a step further and spitted out a variation of Page Rank. Google realized that linking web pages (not just websites) was extremely important, but the actual links weren't the only important aspects for search engines to consider... there were other attributes that search engines should consider (such as the anchor text, how many links are pointing to the website that is linking out, how many links does the page have, etc.).

Google quietly assembled it's own unique algorithm to determine the importance and authority of a website on the internet. And because Google has been the leading search engine for several years, webmasters know that what Google says is important. Even if it doesn't make sense - and even if it's just plain stupid.

What does it all mean?

Now that you know where Google's Page Rank came from and what it is, we can accurately determine how to interpret it, right?

Wrong.

The truth of the matter is this: the way Google (and all of the other major search engines available online today) determines the value of a website is top secret information. If they gave away their big secret ranking algorithm they wouldn't be the number one search engine anymore. It's business. Google and Yahoo and MSN and Ask all have families to feed, so they won't be giving up their information anytime soon.

That doesn't mean, however, that you and I can't look at real life situations and make educated guesses as to what search engines are thinking of our websites. That's right: Google Page Rank DOES tell us something that we CAN interpret.

Google Page Rank can tell you exactly how important your website is... in it's niche.

If you don't know your Page Rank score, head over to PRChecker.info and find out.

A website's Page Rank is not compared to every website in existence. In-fact: Google Page Rank doesn't rank you against other websites at all. All Google Page Rank does is show the quantity and quality of links pointing to your website. Which means: if you have a PR of 0 (zero), then you either only have a few links pointing to your website, or none at all. If you have a PR of 1-3, you have a quite a few links (and maybe even some "big" and "popular" websites pointing to you. A PR of 4-5 means you have a lot of links, and most likely a few authority websites linking to you. And a PR of 6 or higher means your website is pretty popular and has thousands of links (or a lot of quality links).

Make sense? Good. Here's where you realize that it's all for not...

It's really not that important.

It's not a contest. Having a Page Rank that is higher than another website simply means that you have more links, it doesn't mean your website is better; and Google knows this.

Working to get a high Page Rank is great because it means you are trying to advertise/market your website and get people to link to you, but simply focusing all of your efforts on Page Rank is a complete waste of time. Your website will not see more traffic, you will not make more money, and children in Africa will still go hungry at night.

Google Page Rank (drum roll please)... is not really important at all.

So why, then, do webmasters often talk a lot about Page Rank? And why does Google still use it today?

Simply because it's still useful to the search engines. It's still a measuring tool for each specific (though individual) website.

Don't get carried away, Google Page Rank is great and all... but it's nothing more than a way to rank your own website's popularity.

This incredibly long and educational article was brought to you by Monster Energy Drinks. Keeping you energized, and keeping me up at crazy hours of the night.

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4 comments:

Juggling Jason said...

so that's what the fuss is about...

BTW I prefer full throttle. The can looks nicer.

Tanner Christensen said...

Thanks for commenting Jason.

I'm not a huge Full Throttle fan, but then again, I've only had it once.

Anonymous said...

i hate seos who run campaigns for pr. its ridiculous.

Aurelius Tjin said...

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