Is Page Rank Still A Ranking Factor?

Is Page Rank Still A Ranking Factor?
I’m often asked by clients whether Google PageRank is important and, whilst I always advocate looking to improve the PageRank of a website, I go to some length to remind the client that they should also include clear navigation, unique ‘good quality’ content and inbound links from relevant, authoritative sites utilising keyword-rich link text. The following is an article from Web CEO relating to whether PageRank is still a significant ranking factor that I felt could be informative for those interested in improving their repective PageRank.

Three years ago we tested if Google PageRank was correlating with the page’s position and pages with high Google PageRank were ranked higher on Google SERPs. The result was more than convincing: for any given keyword – be it popular or not – the average PageRank of the top 10 pages was always greater than the average PageRank of the next 11-20 pages, and so on. We didn’t find much exception from that rule. This time we’ve tried to remake the test and check if PageRank is an important ranking factor.

We assume that, in principle, the lower a page is in search results, the lower toolbar PageRank number it has – at least this rule remains as a general trend. So, we’ve requested results for some very popular and unpopular key phrases and checked the average PageRank of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th ’10-position’ results pages.

In detail: with the help of the Google Adwords Keyword tool, we have carefully selected 450 keywords (the 250 most competitive and the 200 least competitive) belonging to a few popular topics – real estate, vacation rentals, job search, and cooking recipes. We queried Google for these keywords and got 2250 webpages, retrieved PR for each webpage on the top five results pages, and then found an average PR for each of the five SERPs.

The results prove that the general trend remains only for large amounts of keywords, i.e. the PageRank simple average of 50-60 words gradually decreases from 1st to 2nd, from 2nd to 3rd and so on up to 5th page. However, on the single key phrase level, among all the keywords (popular and unpopular alike), only 22 key phrases out of 450 have an uninterrupted decreasing trend.

What does it mean? Google guys and girls were right, high PR is not all you need for your site’s success in terms of link popularity, and on-the-page factors now matter more than three years ago. PageRank is still a ranking factor, but its role is not as significant as many webmasters think. High PageRank is good proof that you have an established site, but is a doubtful traffic driver.

Online Shopping

Internet Shopping Continues to Grow
As Xmas 2009 approaches the expansion of Internet shopping continues. The Guardian newspaper this week reported that online shops such as Amazon are heading for bumper sales. Products from kettles to mobile phones, Music CD’s, keyboards and DVD box sets are just a few of the items being dispatched to the customer in ever increasing numbers.

With Christmas approaching, online retailers have just dealt with what has become known as “cyber Monday”, the busiest internet shopping day of the year that commonly falls on the first Monday of December. On cyber Monday last year, 8 December, Amazon claims that 1.4m items were ordered from its UK site, over 16-items per second and the most it has ever received in a single 24-hour period. This year, Amazon is forecasting that sales will be 21% to 36% higher. The Internet Market Research Group – which represents online retailers, suggests that between 10% to 15% of retail sales take place online.

If your business doesn’t already have an online marketing strategy then perhaps you should be thinking about getting one. There are a lot of potential buyers out there right now surfing the web looking for gifts and other products. Is your business ready to meet this challenge?

Effective Link building

Link building
Search engines love links, and so should you in developing your Internet Marketing project. On page Search Engine Optimisation, whilst important should represent only a part of your SEO strategy, acquiring quality, relevant in-bound links should also be high on your agenda.

Examples of good inbound links would include:
A) Links from a website or directory that relates closely to your content or market sector.
B) Links located within the body of the content of the source website, using ‘anchor text’ based on your keywords or key phrase in them.
C) Direct links not just your homepage but, where appropriate, to the relevant content pages.

We all know that links are a core part of Google’s ranking algorithm, but often achieving these good quality links is more difficult than it looks. In some case you could consider paying for inks from quality directories or upgrading a free link to one that includes a key phrase rich text link to a page within your site. Make sure you have the type of quality content that makes people want to link to you.

That old SEO statement still rings true, ‘Content is King’. Not only will this approach help generate link popularity, but it will also help you in other ways, too. Search engines love good quality relevant content, all of which will help you succeed with your ongoing SEO campaign.

How do you find out who’s already linking to you? Go to Yahoo search, type in linkdomain:www. yourcompany.com and it will return a list of sites that are linking to you. Google offers the same thing (type link:www.yoursite.com). Note that in our experience, Yahoo returns more comprehensive results with Google often limiting the results it delivers from these requests.

Our advice would always be to focus on quality and relevance when developing you linking strategy. Low quality links from spam sites or link farms could hurt your rankings and the golden rule should always be ‘quality, not quantity’.

Retaining Your Place in Google

Retaining Your Place in Google
Google tweaks its ranking algorithm regularly, with big consequences for your site’s performance in its search engine. This is one reason SEO is so challenging, with Google’s algorithm regularly changing the factors that the search engine takes into account. Naturally, Google don’t fully disclose these changes. Matt Cutts, regarded as the unofficial voice of Google, has said that typically there are 300-400 changes made to the ranking algorithm each year, many of them designed to thwart the efforts of SEO spammers.

Keeping up to date and filtering out the important changes is particularly important for those of us in Internet Marketing as we are in the business of helping web based businesses promote themselves effectively in the Google search engine (amongst other search engines).

On 10 August this year (2009), Google pre-announced the Caffeine infrastructure change, which it said was intended to “let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions’; and offered companies a sandbox to test their listings before rollout. Many SEO professionals applauded this openness as it was probably the first time Google had pre-announced a major change, thereby giving those working in the field of Internet Marketing a chance to prepare and react.

This highlights the importance of having someone acting for your business who focuses on Internet Marketing & SEO by monitoring search rankings, results and changes to a websites placements. This so that these changes / updates can be acted upon to help ensure the company’s website remains well placed in Google and the other search engines.