SEO Guide Part 1: How Search Engines Rank your Web Site Pages ‘Page Rank’

By mslightam, 1 September, 2011

It is important when optimising a web site with the search engines in mind to have an understanding of page rank. Search engines such as Google assign a page rank to each page on your web site based upon an algorithm. In Google’s case this is a rank out of 10, 10 being the most important and 0 being the least important. The algorithm takes many things into account, but by far the most important currently is the number of quality inbound links to the web site or that web page.

An inbound link is a link from one web site to another; the most valuable links (those best for increasing your page rank) are one way links into your site from another web site with a high page rank whose field of business or content is the same as your own. For instance, if you had just started a telecommunications company it would be highly beneficial if Orange and BT both linked to into your web site.

Think of it in terms of word of mouth, the search engines rank your site based upon word of mouth, except that instead of a verbal recommendation they take the links to your web site as recommendations. If that recommendation is from someone the search engines see as being important in your field of business (such as Orange in the field of telecommunications) then the recommendation carries more weight.

In the same way as two people who know each other recommending each other may not be taken as seriously (after all the both have something to gain) two web sites linking to each other (reciprocal links) won’t carry as much weight as if a web site links to your web site but doesn’t get a link back. After all, your site must be good if everyone is linking to you (recommending you) and you don’t have to link to them in return for their link.

That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth swapping links with another site; it is. However it’s more beneficial to swap links with a web site that has a higher page rank than your own. The search engines then see your web site as being a little more important as high ranking (as they see them as reputable and important) sites think it’s worth linking to your content.

If you’d like to get an idea of the different ranks of other web sites, perhaps to gauge whether it’s worth swapping a link with them, you can view Google’s page rank for any page by downloading and installing the Google toolbar. Once installed go into the options menu and turn on ‘page information and page rank’, it should then show you on the toolbar. Please be aware however that the page rank shown on the Google toolbar is a rough indication only and is thought to be up to three months out of date. A more reliable method may be to run searches for key phrases or search terms that should come back for in the search engines and see how well they rank for your web site compared to that of your competitors.

Once you have attained a high page rank it should make the most of your optimised web site content and give you the highest ranking possible for the searches you are targeting.

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About the Author

Matt Slightam, Creative Director at Krome Design, has over 15 years’ experience in branding, graphic design and the web design industry. His ethos is for clean, simple and concise GUI design, always with an eye towards ease of use. He has a passion for brand building and a love for illustration, as with most of the Krome Design team he also believes firmly in the importance of a nice cup of tea and a slice of cake.

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