If you’ve had a website for any length of time, then you’re probably already aware that every 3 months or so Google will give you “grade” called a PageRank. Your PageRank is simply a score of how prominent your website is, and it can have a lot of implications on other factors like your earning potential, rank placement, and more.
If you’ve been struggling to figure out how to increase PageRank within Google, rest assured you are not alone. My Google PageRank was pretty much stagnant for 9 months at a PR2 before it finally increased to a PR3. Even though I’m not an expert on search engine optimization, I have tried a number of things to get my rank to increase. Consider this a “regular guy’s guide” of straight-forward strategies that I have personally used and had some success with.
What is Google PageRank?
Wikipedia defines PageRank as:
“PageRank is a link analysis algorithm, named after Larry Page and used by the Google web search engine, that assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of “measuring” its relative importance within the set.”
What does that mean in English?
Basically your PageRank score is a popularity contest. 0 is the lowest. 10 is the highest.
The major component of PageRank (abbreviated PR) is the number of links pointing to it. The logic is simple. If your site was really good, other sites would gladly link to it. If your site was lousy, then no one would link to it. Right?
Of course the number of links is not the only factor PageRank is based on. There are lots of other components, and most of them are kept secret by Google on purpose.
Why Care? What Does This Have to Do with Money?
If you read any of the ultra-cool blogs out there, they will all tell you that PageRank is a dead and outdated metric. Even Google tells you to not worry about your PR. But you know better …
No one wants to have crappy rankings. Not only is it bad for the ego, it can have an impact on your potential for earning income.
If you want to have a website that makes money, you unfortunately need to be mindful of your website’s statistics. This includes not just Google PageRank, but many other site statistics as well such as SEOmoz, Domain Authority, Page Authority, etc.
The main reason is this: Before any website can be successful or make any money, it has to first be naturally found by people who will find it when they search for something, click on it, read it, click on the ads, buy the products it advertises, … you get the idea. Although PageRank is not the only factor in determining your search engine placement, it does play a pretty important role. Google will obviously try to put the most relevant websites first so that the person searching finds the most value. More on this below.
In addition to simply being found within the Google search results, there are lot of other reasons having a high PR can be good:
- Command better pricing for private advertising
- Command a higher price if you sell your site
- Builds your authority as a webmaster or writer
How Does This All Work?
When you like a site and link to it, use pass on a share or vote to that site that is some factor of your own PR. Some people call this passing “link juice”. You’re not reducing your own PR. You’re just saying that the webpage you’re linking to is worthy of a vote.
When you link to more than one site, that link juice is spread among the links. The more sites you link to (including links on your own site), the smaller the amount of link juice passed on to each link.
For example, on the My Money Design homepage, I can see using SEOquake that I have 124 internal links and 20 external links. Therefore, my PR3 is passed on to all my dofollow links.
Dofollow versus Nofollow Links:
Not all links are created equally. In the early days of Google, it was easy to artificially create a lot of links and manipulate your rank with Google. To address this, the web started using two kinds of links: Dofollow and nofollow.
Dofollow links are links that Google counts for PageRank. These are the most natural of links. For example, if I like your post, I put a link to it on my post.
In contrast to this, a nofollow link is one that Google does not count towards PageRank. This is when you put the attribute rel=”nofollow” within the link html. This can be done manually or with the help of plugins.
Lots of things on the Internet are nofollow these days. Examples include blog comments, social media, forums, social bookmarking, paid links, most article directories, and many others.
It’s easy to figure out which links are dofollow and nofollow. My SEOquake toolbar in Google Chrome draws a little line through all the nofollow links on pages I visit.
Keep in mind that not all dofollow links are weighed the same. This is part of the mystery of Google and a system that is constantly changing.
So Do We Want Only Dofollow Links?
Nope. Even though dofollow links are what get counted in the PageRank calculation, your total link profile (both dofollow and nofollow) is taken into consideration when it comes to your search engine placement.
Let’s say you have a site that has nothing but dofollow links. Don’t you think that would look suspicious to Google?
Suspicious activity of any kind is something you’ll always want to avoid with Google because it can result in what’s called a “Google penalty”. They will either take away your PageRank or lower it.
How We Should Think About PageRank Value:
Pop quiz: Suppose you have a post with 2 links on it and a PR6. Does that mean that each link gets a PR3?
Nope. This is a common misconception about PageRank. The theory is that it is. For those of you who don’t remember that term from high school math class, logarithmic numbers work when you take a base number and raise it to an exponent. Lots of things in physics are logarithmic, such as sound.
To illustrate this, let’s use an example. We all submit our articles to blog carnivals. Suppose there is a page with 25 links on it. How much link juice is passed on to each link?
As you can see, as the PageRank of that blog carnival page increases, so does the amount of link juice that it passes on to each link.
(Please note that this example is not technically correct. It is just a simplistic representation used to illustrate the point. Some people believe that PageRank is actually a log 8 scale rather than a log 10 scale).
Along the same line using this simplest example, you can assume that when it comes to earning PageRank for your site, the same is true as well. For example:
- It’s approximately 10 times harder to go from a PR0 to a PR2 as it is to go from a PR0 to PR1.
- It’s approximately 100 times harder to go from a PR0 to a PR3 as it is to go from a PR0 to PR1.
As you can see, it gets harder and harder to go up the ladder all the way up to a PR10.
Homepage vs Internal Pages:
If your site has a PageRank of 4, does that mean that every page of your website has a PR4?
Every page on your website is treated as its own individual site with its own individual score. It’s possible that some internal pages can have a PR0, some could have PR5, and everything in-between. This is because when people link to your site, they usually link to a particular article or page. Therefore, some pages will naturally be more popular than others and carry different weights.
Question: If you get a link to one of your internal pages, does that increase the value of your overall PageRank?
Yes, but only a little bit. Go to any page on your site and see for yourself. Usually there is a link to your main page along with links to other internal pages as well as anything else you have linked to. Therefore a fraction of that link juice will be passed on to your homepage. Obviously every page of your site contains a link back to your homepage, so lots of “fractions” will help build up your score.
SERP vs PageRank:
“Wait” you might ask. I thought it was PageRank I was after. Why are we talking about SERP?
SERP stands for “search engine results page”. You know when you search for something in Google and you get a page of the top 10 results? That is the first SERP (ranks 1 through 10). Page 2 starts rank 11 through 20, and so on. As you can guess, Page 1 is a very important place to be to be because this is where most people who search for things in Google stop and click.
So let me ask you a question. Suppose you write a fantastic article. Would you rather:
- See it get a PR6 but have a rank of 50?
- See it get a PR2 but have a rank of 3?
If you said the second option, you are wise! When you search for something in Google, you are far more likely to click on number 3 than you ever would number 50.
But Doesn’t PageRank Determine Your Place in the Google Search Results?
Not exactly. Having a high PageRank is helpful, but it is only one factor out of many that Google uses to determine your SERP rank.
If you don’t believe, consider this simple experiment. Let’s type “money design” into Long Tail Pro and take a look at the results. Here is what we get:
Notice that my website ranks number 5 on the SERP. But the Number 1 spot is being taken up by a PR1 site while mine has a PR3. And on top of that, my site is beating out two PR4 sites. So what is going on?
Like I said: PageRank is just one factor. As you can read, other factors like Link Juice, Page Authority, Title Match, and so on also affect your placement.
The takeaway: Don’t focus too hard on just PageRank. There are many other things you can do to gain visibility in the Google search results and be found.
Steps on How to Increase PageRank in Google:
Here’s a list of some of the things I tried and felt improved my Google PageRank. Hopefully they will help you as well.
- Stop publishing crap. This might sound harsh, but it is something you need to hear. People will only naturally link to your content if it is epic. One of the best quotes I read about blogging was that you should only publish something on your site that someone else would pay you $100 for. Go for carefully crafted long, value-added, original posts around specific keywords. If they’re really as good as you think, other blogs will link to them.
- Stop publishing other people’s crap. If someone offers to write a guest post for you, don’t let it be some spammy 400 word piece of fluff. Make sure it is equally as great or better than anything you would publish yourself. Again, people want to link to awesome content, not nonsense.
- Follow good SEO practices for each and every post. This includes filling in the meta description, using alt tags for images, including your keyword in the post title, URL, and maybe in one of the headers. The “Wordpress SEO” plugin can help you with this.
- Focus on specific keywords. Google needs to know how to index your site, so make sure the point of your post is clear. But DO NOT get carried away with keyword density. It will count against you if you abuse it.
- Link to authority sites in your posts. Don’t hog all the link juice. It’s been said that Google likes to see you pass on credit to the big authority sites when you’re writing about something relevant within your niche.
- Link often to other people’s awesome posts. Linking to other people’s work not only builds friendships and community, but it can also increase the chances that someone else will link back to one of your posts or site. But BE CAREFUL! Don’t link to too many pages within the same post or you will look like a spam farm and get a penalty for sure! Hosting some kind of link roundup of a few of your favorite posts is perfectly normal.
- Don’t make all of your links dofollow. Don’t give all your link juice away to every single person who comments on your site. That will make you look like a link farm for sure and get penalized Make sure your blog comments and any plugins are set to nofollow (unless you really want them to be dofollow). If you have spammy comments on your site, delete them. FOR SURE make your affiliate links or advertisements nofollow. Having paid dofollow links will violate Google’s paid link guidelines and hurt your chances for PageRank on that page.
- Submit often to Blog Carnivals. Want to get the easiest dofollow backlinks ever? Just go a blog carnival submission site, fill out the fields, and hit submit. As long as your post doesn’t suck, you’ll get published. How easy was that?
- Submit your blog to popular dofollow sites like Technorati, All Top, etc.
- Offer to Write Some Great Guest Posts. Don’t want to share links with other bloggers in carnivals and round-ups? Get that link juice all to yourself by offering to write some outstanding guest posts for others in your niche. Then include one or two links back to your site. Just remember what I said earlier: Make it something someone would pay money for! No fluff!
- Vary your anchor text. When you do guest post or create links, remember to vary your anchor text for that link. Sometimes use your exact keyword and sometimes change it up.
- Vary which pages get links. Don’t always link directly to your homepage. Try to get a good distribution of links to your homepage and internal pages. This will appear more natural to Google.
- Link more often internally to your own main page and internal pages. Who better to give you link juice than yourself?
- Vary where your links come from. As much as you can help it, try to get links from as many different places as possible: .com, .org, .net, .edu sites.
- Don’t have broken links. Google hates broken links on a site. Use a broken link plugin to routinely check for broken links on your site. Check each one that it finds and if it really is broken, unlink it.
- Check your Google Webmaster Tools and fixed every Crawl Error. Again, Google doesn’t like a site that has broken links. All you need to do is have a 301 Redirect plugin to replace your bad links with good ones. Although that sounds really technical, it really is just as easy as cutting and pasting the bad links in one column and the good links that you want them to go to in the other column.
- Submit a sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools. It’s debatable whether this is really still important or not, but for the two clicks it took me to do, I figured why not.
- Eliminate coding errors on your site. Run your site through the W3C Validator and fix every coding error it reported. Google can’t index what it can’t read.
- Speed up your site. If your website takes forever to load up, it will not do well in Google. Speed it up by being mindful of your images, not having too many plugins, etc.
- Be patient. Google only updates the public PR toolbar every 3 months or whenever they feel like it. So it is natural to feel frustrated having to wait so long to see if any of your efforts have paid off. But keep in mind that Google is always updating and changing your PR even if you can’t see it. I’ve written a few posts based around specific keywords and had them rank in the Top 10 search results within a week or so without having any PR to speak of yet. So remember to not necessarily get caught up in trying to build your PR. Focus instead on your strategy of shooting for low competition keywords. You’ll have much better chances of being found naturally and having others link to your site, which will naturally raise your PageRank as it should.
Readers – What are your tips and tricks for improving your Google PageRank?
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Image courtesy of Wikipedia