Search Engine Optimisation – Page Rank Misconceptions

Page Rank is both something, which is obsessed upon, and also something which if often quite mis-understood. When we talk about Google Page Rank (PR) this is the PR value, which has been assigned to any given page of your web site. This is entirely different from the ranking of your page in the search engine results. This is usually referred to when discussing SERPS (search engine results pages).

Lets talk about the PR value for a moment. If you are using Google tool bar you will often notice a small white and green bar (like a small progress bar), which indicates the PR value of the page you are currently browsing. As we’ve said, webmasters and their clients often needlessly obsess upon this value. It is quite possible to find a web site with a PR = 6 which does not return in search results unless you look for the site by name. Conversely you may notice a lot of web sites with a PR = 4 that command a top slot on page 1 of Google for an array of key phrases.

What we are highlighting here is the fact that the PR value is clearly not principal factor within Googles algorithm. In Essence, a well optimised, Keyword rich, frequently updated web site will out perform a web site whose only dazzling feature is a whopping PR. A typical example of a web site with a huge PR that lacks search engine presence would be a large corporation. Often, due to the scale and recognition of the company, there will naturally be a high number of people/web sites linking into their site. This generates high PR Value.

As you may know, each link into your site can be looked upon as vote for your site. The trick here is that you need the vote to come from a credible source. Again, this is a common area in which the large corporation in out example may not succeed.


Toolbar Page Rank & Your Actual Page Rank

As handy as the Google Tools bar is, particularly if you are involved in SEO, is can only be credited as a loose approximation. The reality of the PR scale has a much broader range than you may think from glancing at the tool bar. Within each division, 1-2, 2-3, 3-4 etc, the scale is broken down further. It is not known exactly what the divisions are within this part of Google algorthim. Search Engine Optimisers regard the scale as progressively harder to climb. This mean that moving from PR 3 to 4 is going to be harder than the move from 1 – 2 was.

If your web site has existed for a long time and you have no page rank then you need to consider how long your inbound links have existed. It can take quite a while for Google to acknowledge these backlinks and as such Google does not immediately assign a PR value to your web pages immediately.

PR – The Knock-On Effect

Naturally, the key page and brunt of any optimisation program is going to be your homepage or index page. As such you will tend to have a higher PR value on this page since there will be more links and traffic heading its way. In most cases, when a well structured hierarchy of pages is in place, the high PR of your homepage acts as a sort of parent figure to the PR values of the pages linked immediately from it. Again, in a common scenario of a well optimised web site, your homepage may have a PR of 5 and the sub pages with prominent links from the homepage may then have a PR value of 4 or 3. This depends on many other factors but the rule of thumb dictates this kind of dilution/knock-on effect right through your web site.