PageRank: Whats and hows

There‘s a lot to understand to thoroughly learn what PageRank is, how it works, and how to improve your website’s scores.

So keep reading, and we’ll teach you all the basics.

What is PageRank?

Among Google’s many algorithms, PageRank measures a website’s quality and determines its position on a given Search Engine Results Page or SERP. Therefore, it is more likely to rank your web pages for a target keyword if their PageRank score is higher.

As Google describes it, this is a form of democratic participation on the web.

How does PageRank score your web pages?

One thing is clear: PageRank is a complex algorithm, and no one outside Google’s HQ knows how it’s calculated. Although according to some industry estimates, a site’s PageRank score would range from 0 to 65,000.

While Google does not share a site’s exact score, it used to provide a simplified score for Google Toolbar users. For example, a PageRank of 1 meant you had few links and low-quality links.

Conversely, having a PageRank of 10 meant your website had many high-quality links. Anyone who downloaded Google’s free toolbar in the early 2000s would be presented with this number.

That said, you can use SEMRush’s Domain Authority metrics as a good proxy for PageRank.

Is PageRank still relevant today?

Google confirmed in 2020 that PageRank remains an integral part of its search algorithm. SEOs like John Mueller, who works at Google, share hints from time to time about how PageRank works.

Factors influencing PageRank

Quality of the referring site

High-quality sites prefer to link to other high-quality, authoritative sites.

Links from too many low-quality sites can lower your PageRank. So, avoid black hat SEO tactics such as buying links because they are probably low quality and will end up hurting your rankings.

Internal links

PageRank is affected by internal links, which are links to your own website’s content. However, linking internally doesn’t increase your website’s PageRank.

Click-through rate (CTR)

A user’s behavior on a page that links to you matters in some way. However, it’s unclear if this refers to a link’s clickthrough rate. Still, many SEOs interpret it that way.

Anchor text

It is undoubtedly an SEO best practice to pay attention to your anchor text, even though it isn’t a genuine PageRank factor. It would help if you surrounded your link’s anchor text with meaningful, rich text.

Follow/nofollow links

You may still pass PageRank through nofollow links since Google treats them as “hints.” However, Google has killed PageRank Sculpting that some SEOs used to try, unsuccessfully, to manipulate PageRank scores.

Conclusion

Google uses many ranking factors other rank PageRank. For example, a former prominent Googler, Matt Cutts, pointed out this a while ago:

“If you believe that Google stopped innovating in link analysis, that’s a flawed assumption. Although we still refer to it as PageRank, Google’s ability to compute reputation based on links has advanced considerably over the years.“

Google’s goal is to help searchers find what they are looking for. So it uses a balanced and nuanced combination of many search algorithms, even if that makes life harder for professional SEOs.

We can only expect Google’s algorithms to become more complex as time passes. But the rule of thumb will stay the same: Create and publish helpful content, and better rankings will follow.

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