Again this week I read a good deal of misinformation from some otherwise knowledgeable coders concerning Google Page Rank.
These folks were saying things like "the more hits you have to your web site the higher your Page Rank will be" and "the web site with the most incoming links will have the highest page rank".
Neither statement could be further from the Truth.
Mathematical PageRanks (out of 100) for a simple network (PageRanks reported by Google are rescaled logarithmically). Page C has a higher PageRank than Page E, even though it has fewer links to it: the link it has is much higher valued. A web surfer who chooses a random link on every page (but with 15% likelihood jumps to a random page on the whole web) is going to be on Page E for 8.1% of the time. (The 15% likelihood of jumping to an arbitrary page corresponds to a damping factor of 85%.) Without damping, all web surfers would eventually end up on Pages A, B, or C, and all other pages would have PageRank zero. Page A is assumed to link to all pages in the web, because it has no outgoing links.
The common misconception is that a high volume of quality traffic to a web site will increase Page Rank. Nope. Not even close - even though it's intuitive it is incorrect.
What? Yep. Commonly, the concept of Page Rank has been compared to voting. If another web site links to your web site then you have received a vote. If that other web site happens to itself have a high Page Rank then their vote has more weight than a vote from a low ranked web site. Oh, another little thing...tons of incoming links from sites that are not relevant to yours may penalize your Ranking. That's about it. Well, sort of. Here is Google's written description of Page Rank:
"PageRank reflects our [Google's] view of the importance of web pages by considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Pages that we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top of the search results. [Nice of them, huh!]
PageRank also considers the importance of each page that casts a vote, as votes from some pages are considered to have greater value, thus giving the linked page greater value. We have always taken a pragmatic approach to help improve search quality and create useful products, and our technology uses the collective intelligence of the web to determine a page's importance."
Now here's the rub - in order for a site to be successful you still need that high volume of quality traffic. Unlike the politician who just wants your vote until election day has come and gone, your web site needs all those messy publicans to hang around and spend some capital.
This is usually where the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) experts come running in to shout with joy that you can have it all! Properly build the site using the SEO process and you will have greater traffic coming from the Search Engines because typically, the earlier a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engines. Were you paying attention? Have you just been flim-flammed? SEO can do a lot of things but IT CANNOT RAISE YOUR PAGE RANK!
Optimizing a web site for the search engines is a matter of editing both content and HTML to remove the barriers to the indexing activities of search engines.
So what is the best way to optimize your site for Google? Well, as Google states, "Following these guidelines will help Google find, index, and rank your site". Can it really be that simple? Yes.
Every Friday we provide beginners a bit of coding help and this week is no exception. Having incoming links to your web site is a good thing but having links go outward bound to other web sites may actually lower your Page Rank. Back in January of 2005 Google, together with other search engines, formally recognized a new attribute to the anchor tag and named it "rel" .
It's usage is as follows:
<a href="http://www.domain.com/somepage.html" rel="nofollow">link text</a>
The attribute rel="nofollow" actually tells a search engine "Don't score this link" rather than "Don't follow this link." This differs from the meaning of nofollow as used within a robots meta tag, which does tell a search engine: "Do not follow any of the hyperlinks in the body of this document." Most Social Networking sites now automatically add the rel="nofollow" to links on their pages so as not to have their sites be used as "link spammers". Start using this code to help your Page Rank rise if ever so slightly!