What does a PageRank really mean?

When it comes to marketing your business on the Internet there are two basic ways to promote yourself, the first is through paid advertising such as banner ads and sponsorships but the second is called Organic Marketing and it’s the process of people finding your website through free methods such as search engines, social media and other forms of free links to your website.

The most important form of Organic Marketing is being found on the results pages of a popular search engine such as Google but how does Google rank those results and how does it know who’s the best to link to? In order to determine which websites to return as part of their Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s), Google employees a proprietary technology calledPageRank, this system of ranking webpages does two important things:

  1. PageRank returns high quality links for visitors, which in turn increases Google’s reliability and;
  2. PageRank removes poor quality links for visitors, also increasing Google’s value to consumers

How PageRank Works

The exact formula’s used to calculate the PageRank system are hidden but based on the original patent and filed documents, PageRank works by calculating a value for your website based on both the volume and quality of websites which link to your website. What that means is that making your website popular is not only a matter of increasing the number of links from websites to your website but also the quality of links from those websites to your website.

For example, here are the PageRanks for some popular websites:

These PageRank results are based on a number of factors but primarily, the sheer volume of websites which are linking to each. For example, 45,000 websites link to CNN.com while only 12,000 link to NBC.com but if you delve deeper into the PageRank formula you’ll also discover that the CNN.com links are most likely a higher PageRank value themselves.

A Simplified Understanding of PageRank

To make it easier to understand how Google calculates PageRank, let’s assume that each PageRank value is worth a certain number of votes but since we know that higher PageRanks are worth more, we can assign more weight to each.

PageRank Vote Weight
0 0
1 1
2 4
3 8
4 16
5 32
6 64
7 128
8 256
9 512
10 1024

If we use the chart above as a rough indicator of the PageRank model (remember nobody really knows how they assign values) than we can determine that the best way to increase the positioning of a website on Google is to increase the number of people linking, but also the quality of people linking.

For example,receiving 1,000 links from poor quality website (PageRank 1) would return 1,000 votes but a single link from a popular website such as CNN.com (PageRank 10) would be worth 1024 votes.

Using the same example, receiving a million links from websites Google considers to be worthless (PageRank 0) or damaging (spam websites, sites that spread viruses etc), would result in no bonus to your website.

What does a PageRank really mean?

With this understanding of how Google calculates PageRank, it is easy to understand then that Google uses PageRank to determine the value of your business and it’s website simply be determining both the quantity and quality of websites which link to your business.

Websites with a high PageRank rank higher on Search Engine Results Pages, which allows more potential customers to find them but PageRank is just one of many factors which leads to higher visibility and should be treated as just one step in your Organic Marketing campaign. You can download the Google Toolbar for free to see the PageRank of each website you’re visiting or if you would like to learn more about our Social Media Marketing, including Organic Link Building please feel free to contact Ross Creative.

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