As a small business owner you may have heard marketing professionals or SEOs talking about the “PageRank” of your business’s website. Usually it’s followed up by a sales pitch with a lot of jargon about PPC, on-site optimization, social media campaigns, backlinking, etc. Sometimes marketers get too caught up in trying to help improve your website ranking without actually taking the time to explain what all of their strategies are based on. This article was written with that in mind.
All nonsense aside, what the heck is PageRank?
In simple terms, it’s a score that Google assigns to your website based on the number of other quality websites that link to yours, plus the inherent quality of your website.
Google then uses this information to determine how relevant your website is to certain searches and, based on your PageRank score, will rank you accordingly in search results.
Below I’ve embedded a confusing looking image from the PageRank wikipedia page.
Think of each circle pictured above as a website. Here we see that website “B” has the biggest PageRank because it has the most quality backlinks (links that come from other websites are called backlinks). As long as the backlinks pointing at your website are from quality sources, it will help increase your PageRank and consequently, your website’s ranking.
What makes a website a quality backlink?
This is determined by a couple of factors. The first is how relevant the backlink is to your website. If you are a plumber and your website has a backlink from a website (let’s say a pizza place) with no content relating to plumbing, it’s doubtful the link will have a positive impact on your PageRank. However, say you have a backlink from a local handyman or contractor’s website, you have a good chance at improving your score.
The second important factor in determining if a backlink is good quality is seeing how many other websites it links to. Think of a website as a barrel full of liquid (maybe a nice scotch?). Then think of each backlink as a spigot coming out of the barrel and the liquid as PageRank. The more spigots the barrel has, the less liquid will come out of each spigot. In the same way, the more backlinks a website has the more dispersed the PageRank it passes on will be.
In short, the best backlinks are websites that are related to your website and don’t link to a ton of other websites.
What else affects PageRank?
Having a regularly updated website that is built well has a huge impact on how well your website will rank and should be the primary focus of any SEO campaign. That being said, in the battle for rankings in particularly competitive areas, having quality backlinks are usually the deciding factor.
Have more questions about PageRank or looking to get your website ranked higher?
If you want to get really technical, there is plenty of great information at searchengineland.com. Don’t want to do it all yourself? Give the folks at Next! Ad Agency a call. They are very capable of taking the reigns on your online presence (spoiler alert: I work there).