Google Page Rank – Important or just another number?

In my last newsletter, I wrote about how the Alexa ranking of your websites isn’t actually important to the success of your online business. In this issue, I’d like to look at another popular statistic – Google Page Rank – and ask a similar question – does it matter?

First, a quick overview of how Google PageRank actually is…

Google Page Rank (or PR as it is often referred to) is simply an indication of how many websites link to a particular website. It also attempts to indicate the quality of those links. The PR ranges from 0 to 10 (where 10 represents the “best” and zero represents the “worst”). Typically, the vast majority of small business websites find that they have a PR between 0 and 5.

To calculate the PR of a particular site, Google uses a rather complex algorithm based on the number of web links that know there is that link to the site in question. This algorithm will also take into account the PR of the page providing the link, so a link from a webpage with PR 7 will be considered more valuable than a link from a page with PR 4.

Because of the way links from highly PR-rated sites are more important, many people choose to buy links from highly PR websites just so they can increase their PR. I’ve seen sites selling a simple text link on their homepage for over $700 per month based on the fact that they have a PR of 7 or higher. This may sound like a lot of money but when you consider that the website owners who buy these links often have websites that are in no way related to the content of the site they link to, it is completely absurd.

Take this example, let’s say you have a website about health and fitness and you buy a link for $500 per month from a random website because it has 7 PRs. This random website has no connection to your own health and fitness website, what is going to happen? Well, your PR may increase as a result of the link. You might get a little extra traffic but maybe not much since people don’t click on links they don’t care about. You will definitely be $500 poorer at the end of the month!

Instead, why not spend $500 on pay-per-click advertising and take advantage of some high-quality targeted traffic?

Of course, there is a bit more than that and the reason most people want to increase their PR is because Google takes this statistic into account when deciding where to display a website in their search results. Many people assume that high PR automatically equals a high search engine position for the keywords they have chosen. not like that….

PR is just one of more than 100 different factors that Google takes into account when deciding where your website will appear (and these factors and the main algorithm change very regularly). It is entirely possible that a website with a PR 5 will rank higher than a PR 7 site if it has better or more relevant content for the search term in question.

Remember that relevance is absolutely important with Google and a link from a website that is not relevant to your own site will be considered much less important than a related link (which makes buying links from random sites just because they have high PR even crazier).

I’ve been reading several rumors recently that Google hasn’t updated their PR for a few months and they are considering phasing out or adjusting PR in some way. This is pure speculation but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. PR can be easily manipulated (eg by buying links as described above) and Google does not like to manipulate their accounts or search results. It makes sense that they will look for ways to prevent this.

So, in short, is Google Page Rank important to your business?

Well, it’s a good indication of how many other sites link to your site and how important Google considers your site, but I personally don’t give much importance to this statistic and certainly wouldn’t pay for a link from a website just because it has high PR.

Like I said above, Google changes its rules on a regular basis and I see little benefit in chasing a certain PR on the grounds that it might get you higher search engine rankings. If Google decides to get rid of PR, all your work will be for nothing.

Instead, focus on creating high-quality, relevant links from sites that are somehow related to your site’s content. This will ensure that any traffic you receive via these links will have at least an interest in your site. Building links on this basis will automatically increase your PR over time (without having to pay for expensive and irrelevant links). If you do things this way and Google scraps the PR indicator, it will not affect you in any way, and the links you have will continue to benefit you.

Remember, in the same way that a low Alexa rating does not guarantee traffic or sales, so does high PR. Sure high PR is a ‘good thing to have’ but lots of traffic and high sales is better 🙂

Copyright 2004 Richard Grady

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