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What is PageRank? How to Rank on Google

Now more than ever, ranking your website online is integral to a successful business. Marketers have turned to search engine optimization (SEO) to help structure their webpage in a way that is easily digestible to Google’s crawlers, which in turn will boost them up in the search engine results page (SERP) rankings.

Enter PageRank.

Unlike other components of Google’s algorithm that comb through text and code, PageRank calculates the worth of a page based solely on links. Each link to your site is interpreted by the algorithm as a vote of confidence.

In this article, we will discuss the history, trends, and components of PageRank and how it all ties to SEO. We suggest having a strong background in SEO in order to fully understand PageRank and get the big picture of the connection between the two. Check out resources such as an SEO podcast to brush up on your background knowledge.

Let’s dive in!

History of PageRank

PageRank was created by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It is a calculation made to measure the worth of a webpage. In the mid-90s, the internet had to be surfed on an 8-bit boogie board. PageRank, developed in 1996, is a system that was inspired by the way scientists gauge the worth of a scientific paper, only instead of placing the measure of worth on the number of citations, the PageRank value for a website focuses on the quantity and quality of inbound links.

Important to note in 2019: PageRank is absolutely not the same thing as Google’s “algorithm.” It is, however, still used by Google today.

How The PageRank Algorithm Works

In the early days of Google, circa 2003, PageRank did not distinguish much between the authority of one source and another. The more inbound links, the better. This is no longer the case. Google’s emphasis now is on quality over quantity.

The heft of today’s ranking decision is in the number of PageRank points available to the link originator. In other words, the more authoritative and less link-promiscuous the website is who links to your page, the higher you will score on PageRank; and there are some sites with a ton of “link juice.”

PageRank scores go from 0 to 10. The ideal link would come from a site with a rank of 8 – 10  that has no other links but the one to your page. The PageRank point curve is exponential.

A brand new website with no inbound links will start with a PageRank of 0. PageRank 3 and PageRank 4 sites can expect to have a fair amount of links. Even PageRank 5 sites can be considered to have a good amount of inbound links. The competition past 5 is very tough.

There are, of course, many other variables that the Google algorithm considers nowadays. These include H1s, SERPS, and more, over 200 signals now are included in several algorithmic “layers” of SEO.

How to Increase Page Rank

Now that you understand the gist of PageRank, how do you work on increasing your ranking?

  1. PageRank points: Basically a quantification of link clout. A site with 20 PageRank points can choose to include a single link on a particular page, thus awarding the linked site the full 20 points, or it can distribute the 20 points across four different links — each linked site would receive only one-fifth of what is referred to as “link juice.”
  2. Link Pruning: Google’s recent emphasis on penalization has caused many website owners to not only stop link building but start link pruning instead. Links to your page from off-topic or untrustworthy sites are toxic.
  3. Google Penguin Algorithm:A part of Google’s algorithm not associated with PageRank that is also worth looking into.

PageRank’s Impact on SEO: Internal and External Links

  • The more links on a page, the more diluted the PageRank passed to each.
  • The more links to a page, the more PageRank flow to it.
  • The more visible a link is the more PageRank it passes.
  • Links to other sites do not impact your internal PageRank,
  • Linking to other sites does not positively or negatively impact your PageRank.
  • External links do not impact your PageRank but may impact other algorithmic factors.
  • Links from higher PageRank sites will send more PageRank to the target page than links from lower PageRank pages.
  • The PageRank to one page on a website will pass to others through internal links.
  • Like internal links, external PageRank divides by the number of links so a link from a page with fewer outbound links is worth more than one with many.


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