This is going to be a techy post and I apologize in advace but I think it’s an important point to understand if ranking in the search engines is important to your business. So, take a few minutes, grab a cold one if it’s Friday and let me try to briefly explain how PageRank flows from one site to another and how you can ultimately improve your PageRank.
As most of you know, Google PageRank is a good way to guage how important and respected a site is. It’s mostly based on how many links a site has pointing to it – among other things I’m sure. PR usually influences how high you rank in the SERPs, so, the higher the PR the better when you’re looking for links. (You can download the Google Toolbar to see a site’s PR btw) Our site has a PR5 out of 10 which is pretty darn good I must say. (Even sites like Facebook only have a PR9) But it’s important to know specifically that just because you can get linked to from a page with high PR, it may not improve your own PR that much. Here’s why…
Let’s say that a site links to your blog and it has a PR of 3. Not a bad link, but the link that you received appeared on their “links” page. There happens to be 100 other links on that page pointing to all manner of other sites that may or may not related to what the site is about or what you do. Now, across the aisle, you have a friend who has offered to link to your site from within their blog and they have a PR5 site. You will be the only link within that blog post AND it’s related to what you do.
In the first example, what this link means for you is that the value of your own PR has only increased by a small fraction because you only get 1/100 of the “PageRank value” flowing from that page. (Or “link juice” as Greg Boser from Web Guerrilla called it.) In the second example, you’ll get close to 100% of that PR value and possibly even more love if the link has your target keywords in it.
Now, link juice is not something that you can purchase at the local quick mart, but rather the weight, or value of the link in regards to how it improves your own PR. Essentially each time a page links out to another page it’s going to pass a little bit of it’s PR value on to that page and hopefully contribute a little bit of it’s overall PR to your PR growth.
So, back to our first link example. Adding more links to a page (such as external links) also means that each link receives less of the available passed PageRank value – or PR juice. In a nutshell, this is why it’s better to get mentioned within someone’s content where you might be one of two or three links on a page related to your site’s subject matter vs. getting linked from some random links page or directory.
So, in summary, links are very important to why you rank within the SERPs but not all links are created equal. Keep this in mind when you are building links to your site and if you have an opportunity to control your link’s placement. Don’t include it on a page that has many other links. It’s simply not as valuable.
Googlebot is not stupid. It knows that it’s simply harder to get linked from a relevant page where there are only a couple links out vs. getting on a links page or directory where there are many other links. In Google’s mind this is equal to referring someone to a friend vs. throwing your address book at them and telling them to figure it out. That referal has value and so does that one link to your site.