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Does Page Rank determine your position in the rankings?

This question has been banded around a lot and it can be very confusing, so here’s a quick explanation of Page Rank, what it is and how it affects your eventual ranking on a page.

First off, we should explain Page rank and the easiest way to do this is to copy from Wikipedia:

PageRank is a link analysis algorithm, named after Larry Page and used by the Google Internet 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.

There you go then, it’s a number assigned to pages that tells Google how important that page is and for your info, it’s a number from zero to ten with zero being the lowest (i.e. a page that nobody knows about) and ten the highest (i.e. the best page on earth which everyone and their pet salamander uses on a regular basis).

Let’s have a look at some Page rank and see what’s what then. You can do this in many ways, including a neat toolbar on your browser that will display the rank for every page you visit, but for now just head over to here:

http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php

Type http://www.adobe.com in the box

Then click on ‘Check PR’. You’ll now be asked to enter a verification code (to stop annoying spam bots) and you’ll get a result.

So you see, Adobe is pretty top-dog when it comes to this Page rank thing. Not surprising, they’re one of the biggest software companies on the web.

Now do the same with your site – how good is its PR? The average is 3, but don’t feel too bad if it’s lower, it doesn’t mean you’re never going to be found.

How to gain PR

Page rank is gained as other pages link to your site. So if a page with a PR of 3 links to you, it will ‘leak’ some PR to your site increasing its score. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll go higher towards number one. The high Page rank of the site linking to you is brilliant, you want as many high ranking sites as possible linking to you, but you could still be outranked by someone with a PR of zero, even if yours is now three.

You see, Page rank is an indication of your importance, not your ranking and even though links to your site are good, your overall Page rank doesn’t really make any difference.

For example, Adobe with their PR of 9 and selling computer software would seem a top result for the search ‘computer software’, however if you check, you’ll notice they don’t appear in the top ten for that search term at all.

Here’s an easy one – search for ‘String Bags’

Here are the top three results, with their current Page rank next to them:

As you can see, the one with the highest Page rank is the lowest in the ranking.

Hopefully you’ve noticed something else, too. The word ‘String Bags’ appears in the title of the top two results, but not in the third one. So it would appear that the on-site factors have more of an effect than page rank.

So should we be bothered with Page rank?

My personal view is ‘not really’. Going after PR can be a fool’s errand because you’re not necessarily going to get great rankings, it’s also incredibly difficult and gets harder the higher you go. If you were to graph the difficulty in gaining PR, it would look a bit like this:

Essentially, the higher your page rank, the more difficult it is to get to the next level, meaning PR10 is saved for really top sites like Google themselves.

So, after all that the short answer is that your site’s Page rank doesn’t necessarily have an effect on rankings, but the sites you get links from does.

 

About Andy Calloway

Head of SEO at Calloway Green, Andy has been writing for print and the web for over ten years. Some of it makes it into publication, some of it is stored in plexi-glass and sunk to the bottom of the sea.

3 Responses to Does Page Rank determine your position in the rankings?

  1. Great article and very concise. Personally, I don’t have a pet salamander, but I do know more about Page Rank now. As per usual, you guys are spot on! Thanks. :)

  2. Lynn says:

    This article is pretty concise, but I still feel a bit short-sighted. I am just launching a website selling eBooks, Writeious Books, that has taken me over a year to get up and running. I am concentrating on SEO and Page Rank, to get up in the search results. Will Page Rank really improve this?

    Cheers,
    Lynn

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