This is part 4 of our 8 SEO Gifts for Chanukah series breaking down some basics of Search Engine Optimization.
External Links and Their Effect on Page Rank
Have you ever stopped to think about how Google decides how popular your page is while they’re crawling? And what does “popular” even mean? How does this impact SEO? Let’s get started.
What is Page Rank?
Due to the plain and simple fact that Google cannot have their engineers hand pick the order in which pages fall for each of the 5 billion+ searches that happen daily, it has to use algorithms to decide the most relevant pages per search. Page Rank, also called Link Equity, is an algorithm implemented by Google to judge a web page’s popularity. When Google crawls a web page it counts the number of external links that are pointing to it, and it evaluates that information according to it’s algorithm. It then gives the page a ranking from 0-10, and that’s the Page Rank.
The logic seems to be that pages deemed popular have more external links linking to them. Seems to make sense right? I know what you may be thinking, “but what if the pages linking to it are unrelated to the content of that page, or are complete spam?” Well, when Google looks at the links pointing to your page, they also look at how important those pages are, and if the pages linking to you have a high page rank and are relevant, your chances at having a higher page rank improve. If you have a lot of external links from different high quality and relevant domains linking to your page, you’ll most likely have a higher Page Rank. That being said, the more links you have from low quality, irrelevant pages pointing to your site, the lower Page Rank you will have. A great rule of thumb: quality > quantity.
How Do I Get A Higher Page Rank?
While you can’t fully control your Page Rank, there are some things you can do to improve your chances:
- Find high quality, relevant sites and try to have them link back to your page.
- Try to make sure you have a good internal linking structure on your site, or as some call it, a “tree-like” structure, where your really important pages are only one or two links away from your homepage.
- Content content content! As you will see in our upcoming blog post, content is king. While PR does not actually look at the quality of the text on your site, having good content can indirectly help raise your PR. If you have a site with quality & unique content that people will want to link to, you’ll have a higher chance at getting pages with high PR to link to you and help raise your PR.
- Use Google’s webmaster tools and/or SEO Moz’s Open Site Explorer to do an audit of external links pointing to your site. Try and get all irrelevant/low quality links removed.
Page Rank’s Impact on SEO
Why does Page Rank matter? What does it mean if Google decides that my page is popular? Google has said that pages with higher Page Rank get crawled and indexed faster. This is important because the faster your page is crawled and indexed, the better chances you have of people finding and visiting your site. It’s also important to keep in mind that Page Rank alone is not going to make your page successful. There are many other factors that are important to keep in mind such as on-page optimization (title tags, content, etc.) that will really help impact your page’s success.
Take a look at the other posts in the 8 Gifts of SEO to get more useful tools and tips!