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PageRank Isn’t The Question; Page Rank Is.

I’m going to write this post in hopes that the influx of people who seem to be calling us lately asking about PageRank will read it. I’m not convinced that this is the case however it’s worth a try. A trend I’ve noticed as an SEO is that questions tend to come in waves. Today everybody wants to know (or there’s mass confusion on) links and PageRank (or more specifically, why they don’t have a higher PageRank). And so this post is born. If nothing else, it’ll offer me a link to point those people to down the road rather than explaining AGAIN why their website doesn’t have a higher PageRank and why this isn’t really the question they should be asking themselves.

So let’s start from the beginning, why are we all chasing rankings (and since rankings predate PageRank – this is the beginning)? We chase rankings so that we can get traffic. Why do we want traffic? So we can get business. So let’s take a look at what the questions we should be asking ourselves are regarding PageRank, the factors being – business, traffic, rankings and PageRank. Lets see if we can figure out which of the factors are unimportant knowing that the end goal is business. In this equation we will make the logical assumption that if you increase the relevant traffic to your website, you’ll increase your business. Thus, for our purposes here: traffic = business.

  1. If you have a high PageRank but low rankings will you have an increase in traffic/business?
  2. If you have a low PageRank but high rankings will you have an increase in traffic/business?

If you answered yes to number one then perhaps you need to visit more SEO blogs and forums to get a better understanding of how Internet Marketing works. If you answered yes to number two but no to number one you get the point – PageRank is irrelevant.

Now, there will be a couple of you out there who will have read some statistics regarding people using a high PageRank as a yardstick to measuring the authority or trustability of a website. Putting things in perspective however we can all agree that this is a small percentage of the population (do you?) and if this trust is what you’re looking for you’ll find it much easier and cheaper (time is money) to attain by adding HackerSafe to your site and getting the roughly 14% conversion increase you can get by going that route.

So we’ll focus on the real business and it’s very clear that what we’re really after is rankings, not PageRank. Once upon a time PageRank had a strong influence on rankings – that is not the case anymore. It is certainly a factor, one among a hundred. Certainly not something worth all the hoop-la.

But thus far I don’t think I’ve really answered the question I’ve set out to – so let’s do that now. Really there are two common questions I seem to get asked frequently about PageRank and they are:

Why isn’t my PageRank higher?
The answer here depends on the site of course however the most common reasons are:

  • The links you’re building are horrible – sorry but it’s true. If you come to me with an acne treatment site with a low PageRank and ask why, please make sure you haven’t done mass recip link building with low PageRank car insurance sites (or worse), or
  • Google’s lack of PageRank updating is the “problem”. I’ve seen a number or sites that actually have some good link building tactics in place but have a low PageRank. When I ask when the link building started I’ll generally get the reply that it’s been in the last 6 months or so. While there have been some hiccups in the PageRank displayed in the tool bar we haven’t seen a real update since April. These are generally the funniest people to deal with and here’s why. The conversation usually takes the following turn:
    “Oh, that’s why my PageRank is still a 2 (or 1 or whatever). I was wondering as I’m sitting at #2 for my phrase.” Which occasionally makes me want to forget I’m speaking with a prospective client and cry out “THEN WHO CARES WHAT YOUR PAGERANK IS !!??!!

Which is really what this blog post (or is it a blog rant?) is about. The second question I get asked a lot is:

So what are you going to do to increase my PageRank?
The truth of the matter is, nothing. I’m not specifically interested in your PageRank. If you look at our guarantee page you won’t see a “We guarantee to get you a PageRank of x over 6 months.” We run ranking reports, not PageRank reports.

Now, we have to do a lot of link building and our primary focus is to get good relevant links so in the end, the PageRank of the sites we work on will go up however that’s not really the point. PageRank doesn’t pay the bills (unless you’re selling links). Your page’s rank – now that does. :)

So thank you all for listening to my rant. I do hope that it has answered some questions and please accept my thanks … you’ve been a good counselor. ;)

And Matt (Cutts) if you’re reading this PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE just help us get rid of the bloody green bar. paid links wouldn’t be a problem for you anymore (or certainly less of one) and I wouldn’t have to answer these questions anymore and could just be left to focus on relevancy. :)

SEO news blog post by @ 1:18 pm on October 23, 2007

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