SEO – Link Building Series: Page Rank and Search Engine Optimization

In first post of this series for beginners, we learned how search engines find your site and read its relevant public contents. Search engines use the web pages found on your site (and numerous other sites) to tag and index them logically in a way that it can be presented to people searching for simiar content.

page rank and SERPsHowever, there is a possibility that, just like you, a few (sometimes even 100 or 1000) others have published content on similar or same topic. Unfortunately, the search engines cannot display all these indexed pages in one search engine result page (SERP). Hence the search engines will try to list the search results in the order of priority or importance of indexed pages. In order to practically measure the importance of indexed page, the search engines assign ranks to these indexed pages.

Page Ranks

What is Page Rank? A Page Rank – fontly known as PR – is a number assigned to an indexed page by the search engine that helps the page to be sequenced in search results. Please note that we are talking about a number that can vary from 0 to infinity and is maintained by Google internally. There is also an external or public page rank – a number from 0 to 10 – that usually all of us get to see via Google Toolbar or page rank look up services. However, the sequencing of SERPs is based on the internal rank alone.

The (internal) page rank plays an important role in your site’s search traffic. If your pages get on top of the search results (of search engines such as Google, Yahoo), you can definitely get more search visitors to your blog or website. It is as simple as that!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

We introduced this term in the last post. Search Engine Optimization, in simple language, is the tweaking that you do to your web pages in order to get them listed on top of the search results. The ultimate aim of SEO is to increase the internal page ranks of your pages (which sometimes reflect in the public page rank as well). As I mentioned above, using the internal page ranks, that can vary from zero to infinity, is probably the only way to prioritize thousands of pages dealing similar topics.

Basically, the external page rank (0 to 10) could be an indicator of the importance of a page but the internal PR is the main deciding factor for SERPs sequencing.

Note: Without having a good page rank, one could still get his pages listed on top of the search results. But in order to achieve that you need to pay the Search Engine companies so that they will prioritize your pages or sites ahead of others. This is known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and this topic is not in the scope of our current series

Major factors that influence Page Rank

Since Uncle Google (or other search engines for that matter), never discloses how he calculates the page rank of the pages indexed, a lot of people have researched on this topic and figured out that the following factors and traits can influence the PR of a page:

#1 Relevance, structure and quality of the page content
#2 Linking – to and from the page
#3 Keywords and tags used for linking and otherwise

I shall quickly touch upon the first topic in this post and deal with linking and keywords in the next two posts in the series.

Page structure and content relevance

Every page that you publish is HTML (regardless of the language such as PHP or ASP that you used to develop) with some additional styles and scripts that tell the browser as to how the content is rendered or behaved.

The technical structure of the HTML page and its compliance to certain standards is supposed to be a factor in ranking your page. You can check the compliance of your web page using the free online W3C Markup validation tool. In addition to the validity of your HTML, the overall structure of the page (in terms of various tag usages, defining sections of the content, tagging etc) need to be compatible across major web browser applications and also human friendly. Usually this aspect is taken care of by using quality themes or templates for your blog or website. I will not be talking about this topic in this post.

Quality and relevance of the content is determined by how well the page elements such as title, description, tags, various headers and sub-headers are interrelated. We will talk about these points in detail in a later post dealing with Keywords.

I hope that the second post in the SEO – Link Building Series was useful and simple enough to understand. Please provide your feedback as comments here and the next post will be on linking and link building

Part III: The importance of Linking >>


  1. Cool, neat and detailed post, thanks a lot Ajith. Looking forward for the next post in the series.

    Raju’s last blog post… Google Brings Book Search for iPhone & Android

  2. I have read about the advantages of running posts as a series. I am seeing it in action for the first time. Hats off Ajith.

    Binaryday’s last blog post… A quick SEO checklist for your blog

  3. Amazing post thanks for sharing, surely helpful to newbies and intermediates to understand what is Search Engine Optimization all about. Thanks πŸ™‚

  4. Good post and I agree with everything BUT the pagerank remarks. PageRank is not indicative of how high you will rank in the SERPS. Backlinks from relevant websites with the anchor text of your primary keyword has more to do with getting ranked in the SERPS than page rank.

    Don’t believe me? I have several examples but my most powerful one is this:

    Google “make money online”. Check out position #3 (The url is a blogspot blog). Now look at the Pagerank….a big fat 0.

    There are cases all over the Internet that confirm this. Pagerank (the stuff we see) doesn’t really mean much other than it may show how much Google may trust the site. And even that is up to debate.

    Good post.

  5. Though I believe that page rank does not influence your SERP directly, it does have a indirect deciding factor on how your pages are ranked. Higher page ranks means you are a trusted site, and this may also read to higher frequency of your site being crawled for new contents and ranked consequently. PR has a different factor of value when it comes to different web masters. If the PR is increasing, it becomes a incentive to work harder and PR takes center stage. When PR is decreasing, however, it is merely discounted as another no relevant statistic. The discussion on relevancy of PR (or the lack of it) has originated from pompous webmasters who have failed to achieve high PRs and thus see and promote it as another “Alexa”.

    Take my word for it…even if PR has no contribution to directly influence your search results, it is still a very valuable stat. It does affect your site’s trustrank, helps you push your SERP indirectly, and most important of all, gives a monetary value to your domain.

    I leave you all with one question: If Page Rank was a failure, why would Google continue to invest so heavily (money, time, resources, computational power, etc) on it. PR has its place in web mastering…accept it. And for failed webmasters, I have a message. Please do not use your failure as a testimony to preach the irrelevance of PR stats.

  6. Although that I agree that page rank is very important for search engine ranking, there is another factor to consider is the amount of competitive post on a specific topic to get rank among the top.

    I think that writing on topics that are not too dense and also people will look for will bring lot of traffics even if a site PR is not much. Not the difficult part is to know what people are looking for at the right time… and its easy if its a term searched by many ( use google trends) but there are many terms that can attract much traffic and are not listed on google trends.

    Uhh… my comment went out of subject?

    Kurt Avish’s last blog post… Mauritius HSC Result 2008 – 2009 – The Laureates

  7. I have to agree with Leo here. Pagerank has nothing to do with SERP. I have seen several websites (on DP) with high PR & old domain age, but without much SE traffic or SERP ratings.

    Raju’s last blog post… [Firefox Friday] Across the Foxosphere – 3

  8. Great Post Ajith. Looking forward to more such posts on this series.

    Madhur Kapoor’s last blog post… Manage Frequently Used Text Phrases with PhraseExpress

  9. @Raju, thanks and yes, I will try to logically sequence this series as best as I can.

    @Binary, definitely there’re advntages and disadvantages of havin series posts. Advantages are: Just like TV soaps, it can glue a set of readers on to your blog. Also it forms great look up or reference material for the future. Disadvantages include the drop in readership by some experienced readers (esp when you write for beginners)

    @Nicholas, thanks for the compliments πŸ™‚

    @Leo, Of course the external page rank (that we all see) do not play a major role in sequencing though it can be an indication of a page’s importance or authority. I was talking about the internal PR that Google or other search engines maintain tor properly sequencing SERPs.

    Btw, thanks for the wonderful example πŸ™‚

    @Richael, hey I totally agree that high external PR is more like authority (or indication of trust as you said). But as I mentioned in the above comment, internal page ranking is the only way one could distinguish a site’s positioning from another in a result set that involves thousands of sites. I was talking about that internal PR and will be focussing on how to improve that through out this series.

    I have rephrased a sentence in the PR definition to make my point clear. But as you said, the external or Toolbar PR also has something to do with a page’s importance as that’s what ultimately get monetized well. And yes, why would Google invest a lot to maintain that external PR up to date if it has no use?

    Heehee, I liked the comment on failed web masters.

    @Kurt, nope your comment is not off topic but I was planning to touch it in keyword optimization chapter anyhow πŸ™‚

    @Raju, read my replies to Leo’s and Richael’s comments!

    @Madhur, thanks buddy… I hope to make the series interesting πŸ˜€

    Thanks everyone for your comments and active discussions.

  10. I have never seen some one going such deep in explaining about PR. Thanks a lot mentioning Ajit.

  11. Any plans for the differences between tags and keywords?

  12. Ajith,

    Great post. I never bothered about the individual page rank at all. I always check the PR of my site. I will again read the whole post with comments to get more insight into this.

    Nihar’s last blog post… How to Download Videos From MegaVideo

  13. good post Ajith … especially many things to learn from the discussion going on int= the comments section …

  14. Shall be waiting for the post then πŸ™‚ Keyword optimisation work like wonder… and would be waiting for a post so that everyone can share their ideas.

  15. @Harish, thanks πŸ™‚ and I will try to explain the rest in simple lang as well

    @Dennis, categories are human readable/understandable categorization where as tags are mainly for ‘bots’. Even keywords are to help bots but they are more specific than tags. That’s how I understand them πŸ™‚ Anybody else with other opinions?

    @NIhar, individual page rank are also an important aspect. However, what I mentioned as internal rank is the PR that Google maintains internally.

    @Truck trader, thanks for the compliments πŸ™‚

    @Kurt, I will try my best but I am also going to take tips from the top 5 in the SEO Challenge ’09

  16. I’m still laughing at your use of ‘Uncle Google” – LOL

    Great series Ajith πŸ™‚

    Kim Woodbridge’s last blog post… Adding WordPress 2.7 Threaded Comments to your Theme

  17. @Kim, πŸ˜† I hope Google won’t take it negatively. I don’t want to become another John Chow…

  18. According to my recent reading from various sources getting quality back links for your site is the best to getting out from the crowd, even duplicate contents will be placed higher on search results if you get good back links.

    Chinese Girl’s last blog post… Ramada Nanjing

  19. Forget to mention that I did not used tags with the fear that it might create “keyword stuffing” . Will it ? as my pages are already optimized with keywords so tagging might add more keywords.

    Chinese Girl’s last blog post… Ramada Nanjing

  20. @Chinese Girl, definitely backlinks from relevant pages play a huge role along with keyword density. Tagging and keyword stuffing if done carefully will not harm.

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