For search engines the ‘Popularity Ranking’ (PR in short) is one of the important algorithms used in ranking websites. Knowing this, a lot of webmasters will do anything to increase the PR of their website. In this (somewhat short) article I will walk you through some of the do’s and don’ts in optimizing you PR. Short description of what PR is first. It measures the amount of links and the general value of a page for a search engine. This is used to appropriately rank pages.
Lets first give a firm warning: The PR displayed by Google is NOT the one they use in the algorithm
I love myth busting, and this is the most persistent one. Google has never presented the general public (meaning us) with the rankings they give pages (PageRank), nor have they confirmed using the system. From experience I know they use a form of PageRank, but I also know it is not the stupid number (or green bar) displayed in the toolbar.
Back to basics
Even though Google (and others) would love to deny it, the only way to know if a page or website is popular is to look at the amount AND type of links a website gets. Notice that I sneaked the type of link in there, this is because I don’t know precisely what they see as a good link and what not (more on that later on). Why do they need to use this so called link graph! Well it’s easy search engines are computer programs looking for patterns. This means they can’t look at the amount of visitors a website has, because they simply don’t have access to this kind of data. (Baring in mind you haven’t installed Google Analytics that is)
That leaves the question of: “Are all links of equal value?”
Again an easy answer NO they aren’t. Let me explain why to you. If all links were of equal value then it would be very easy to artificially increase rank by linking a bunch of websites together. Obviously this is not what search engines like. We shouldn’t meddle in their priced ranking system to make it useless.
Bringing a new question into mind. If all links aren’t equally valuable then how on earth do I know if a link is valuable for my website. Short answer yet again. You don’t, not exactly anyway. How to value a link and how to decide if it will help you in increasing PR is a corporate secret of the search engines. But you can guess it just as easily as I can. What makes a link good. Lets view the page linking to you from a visitors point of view. Will this link bring the visitor more value? Will it enlighten him further or bring more entertainment or is it just seen as spam to be ignored?
Why do I use the visitor as a measurement in the value of a link. Easy, search engines try and please the visitors to get accurate results. So if a visitor might click the link then it must be of value.
Now that you now how to select website you would like to get linking to you the difficult part can begin. Try and persuade the webmaster to add a link, but don’t be fooled in reciprocal linking. If your website is good enough why would anyone hesitate in placing a link to it.
Which brings me to the last point for this article. I’ve seen the best results in increased PR by simply doing nothing. I don’t exactly know why or how, but I haven’t done any SEO (Search Engine Optimizing) on any of my pages and the PR seems to be increasing every update made by the search engines.
So what should you do, well opinions vary a bit. Some prefer a very agressive linking scheme and try to get every link they can. Personally I would prefer to do little to nothing about linking at all. Just let it happen somewhat naturally and you should be fine.