Google PageRank Tested

Section 2 (Analysis)

We have reviewed the importance of a high Google PageRank. But the question remains: How do you achieve this lofty goal?

If the data from our experiments cannot be applied in a practical and relevant way to your marketing, then it has limited value. And despite the prolific number of online resources regarding Google, there are very few that detail “blueprints” or how-to guides for achieving a high PageRank.

So we have prepared a 44-point plan, along with 60+ other resources. We hope this research is at least modestly helpful.

What are the key factors that impact your Google PageRank? (Eight Elements)

Academics endlessly debate over the latest Google PageRank algorithm. Busy retailers and publishers have no time for such dialogue. Regardless of the algorithm, and apart from link popularity, there are perhaps eight elements that impact a ranking:

  • Link Text
  • Page Title
  • Heading Tags
  • ALT Tags
  • Domain Names
  • Filenames
  • Directory Names
  • Keyword Density

Rather than try to determine which of these elements — in which combination — will help you divine a stellar PageRank, we recommend that you FOCUS ON THE FUNDAMENTALS. The balance of this report will help you do just that.

How can you improve your Google PageRank? (Seven Steps and Five Dangers)

  1. KEY POINT: Enhance your site with quality, keyword-rich content. If you cannot produce the content yourself, consider a strategic alliance with an ezine or an information-based site. (Be careful about digressing from your core business. The right partnership is a mutual “breakthrough”.)
  2. Work hard to get reviews about your site published on other sites. Even as a retailer you can develop helpful content. For instance, if your site sells hardware, offer blueprints, instructions, how-to-build guides, and/or “project of the month” plans. Get people “talking” about your site!
  3. Remember that Google PageRank is not a replacement for professional search engine optimization work. Amazon.com has over 50 million inbound links, but it remains invisible if you search for irrelevant keywords. If you need help in this area, contact:

    research@marketingexperiments.com

  4. Download the Google Toolbar from http://toolbar.google.com/. This tool will help you locate potential link partners (click on Page Info — Similar Pages). The Toolbar can also help you determine whether or not a page has been disallowed by Google (the PageRank graph bar will be grayed out).
  5. KEY POINT: Structure your website so that it is no more than three tiers (levels) deep. This can help Google to achieve a “full crawl” (*9) of your content.
  6. Spread your content across multiple pages and allow deep linking. Deep linking occurs when other sites will link to pages within your website other than the homepage. You should accommodate deep linking by providing clear site navigation on every page of your site.
  7. Link your first tier of information to your second tier, and your second tier to your third. But avoid links on your third tier to any unnecessary content. This can improve your INTERNAL PageRank. Internal PageRank is the rank generated by a website’s internal link structure. Pages that link to each other within your site will help improve your overall PageRank.
  8. Create the links for your link exchange partners, but avoid these four dangers:
    1. Do not link to pages that are irrelevant to your content.
    2. Do not (as a general rule) exchange links with a site that is ranked lower than yours.
    3. Do not link to pages that are in trouble with Google.
    4. Do not participate in link farms or indiscriminate link exchange programs.
    5. Do not rely on forum posts to improve your PageRank. Google no longer counts these in its ranking criteria.
  9. Use these tools to monitor your PageRank:

    PageRank Calculator
    http://www.webworkshop.net/pagerank_calculator.php3

    Google Toolbar
    http://toolbar.google.com/

How do you persuade other quality sites to link to your site?

  1. Submit your site to each search engine and relevant directory. Google places importance on Yahoo! and the Open Directory Project (http://www.dmoz.org). Avoid any small, unprofessional engines.
  2. Make a top 50 list of the sites with which you want to be linked. Find appropriate niche search engines, manufacturers, supplier sites, and other complimentary sites.
  3. KEY POINT: Utilize link popularity tools
    (like http://www.marketleap.com/publinkpop/ or
    http://www.linkpopularitycheck.com/) to monitor inbound links and to run comparative surveys of your competitors. You can also use these tools to (a) hunt down your competitor’s listings (links from other sites), and then (b) approach the same groups requesting a link to your site.
  4. PERSONALLY write individual sites, requesting a link. And if you haven’t linked to them already, offer to exchange links. Do NOT form mail them; most will delete the mail and may block you as spam.

    Here is a sample letter that we received from a marketing site requesting a link to us. It is well written, and we modified it to serve as a template:

    Hi,

    My name is _______________
    I was looking at your web site www.marketingexperiments.com and think we should link to each other :-).

    Exchanging links will help bring in more business for both your website and ours. An added benefit is increased search engine traffic because the search engines rank sites higher that have a good number of incoming links.

    This is NOT a free-for-all link exchange, I don’t waste my time with them and you shouldn’t either. I am only linking to related websites so that all links are relevant.

    I already added your website’s listing www.requestedsite.com on our Reciprocal Links page and this page is directly linked from our home page. Please find your listing available on www.yoursitesname.com in the “General” sub-link.

    If you are interested, please copy the HTML code available at www.yoursitesname.com on your web site.

    After giving us a link, please send us a confirmation email at you@yoursitename.com. Please mention the URL where you have given us a link so we can confirm it.

    Thanks & Regards,

    Your Signature

    P.S. Please respond by __________, so we can put your listings on the top of our Partners Page

    For more information on linking, check this resource:

    131 (Legitimate) Link Building Strategies
    http://www.searchenginewatch.com/
    searchday/article.php/2160301

  5. KEY POINT: Submit (genuine) testimonials for the products and services of other sites. Make sure you sign them with your name and URL. This is one of the BEST ways to get a link from a quality site.
  6. Make sure that any links to your site are descriptive. While this won’t affect PageRank itself, Google DOES consider inbound link descriptions in relevancy. It is — in effect — remote SEO.
  7. Consider adding a “Most Popular Quotes” feature to your site. List the best, most quotable, and most original statements from your content. One good quote can spread, in viral fashion, across the net. As an example, our own quotes page is available at: https://www.marketingexperiments.com/quotes.asp
  8. Consider adding a syndicated content element. This allows other sites to reprint selections of your own content while linking back to the full version. An excellent tool for managing a syndication effort is: http://www.mastersyndicator.com/

How do you maintain your Google PageRank?

  1. Google updates its listings once a month, but a single update can bring about dramatic changes. To maintain a strong PageRank, you must constantly monitor your position.
  2. KEY POINT: Google does not (normally) penalize you for inbound links, but it will penalize you for outbound links. Check every link every week. Remove links to any pages that have been disallowed by Google. And remove links to any pages that return a 404 error.
  3. Remove unreciprocated links from your site, unless you feel they are especially valuable. Unreciprocated outbound links lower your PageRank. They also lower the PageRank vote that you pass on to other sites.
  4. There will be link attrition. Continually survey the Net for new link partners.

What types of activities can jeopardize your Google PageRank?

Any activity that Google deems as deceptive or that misrepresents what you offer can jeopardize your PageRank.

The following information is adapted directly from Google’s Quality Guidelines:
http://www.google.com/intl/az/webmasters/guidelines.html

BASIC PRINCIPLES

  1. Make pages for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to your users.
  2. Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
  3. Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.
  4. Don’t use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our terms of service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.

SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
  2. Don’t employ cloaking or sneaky redirects.
  3. Don’t send automated queries to Google.
  4. Don’t load pages with irrelevant words.
  5. Don’t create multiple pages, sub-domains, or alternate domains with substantial amounts of duplicated content.
  6. Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines, or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.

    Jeremy Brookins, a researcher with MEC, recommends the following:

  7. Be wary of automated submissions inquiries.
  8. Do not use Link Farms.
  9. Do not use copyrighted content without permission.
  10. Do not link to sites that violate any of the above rules.
  11. Avoid spam like the Plague.
  12. Keep in mind that you can also get into trouble without engaging in any overt violation. If your site is down when the Googlebot shows up, or if you rely upon “unspiderable” dynamic pages, your site could be removed by Google.

What can you do if your site is “penalized” by Google PageRank? (And How Can You Prevent This Internet “Tragedy”?)

Your site can either be demoted to a PageRank of ZERO, or (worse) completely removed from Google’s index. We recently studied an online retailer who completely disappeared from Google PageRank. Here are our (only somewhat helpful) recommendations to their CEO.

  1. Review your site, carefully, against the list of PageRank violations outlined under the previous heading.
  2. Correct every violation and then wait (with baited breath) for the next update. It could take months before you see improvement.
  3. Find the responsible party for these violations, and devise a slow, painful method of torture. We recommend a three-part punishment: (1) Force them to translate your site into ancient Hebrew, (2) have them derive the numerical equivalent for each Hebrew word, and then (3) have them search the resulting numbers for mathematical trace patterns.
  4. You can try to contact Google. But, typically, they will not respond.
  5. Make certain that you are listed with DMOZ. Google seems to place some importance on a DMOZ listing.
  6. List your site (again) with all of the quality, relevant search engines.
  7. Improve your site, with yet another infusion of quality content.

CONCLUSION

So what can we learn from all of this research?

It is the general consensus of most SEO experts that a high Google PageRank is not something that can be quickly achieved via some “magical formula.”

KEY POINT: According to Jeremy Brookins, “The real keys are an aggressive linking campaign, a non-redirect affiliate program, and high-quality content.”

Google PageRank attempts to determine how important the community views your site. Content-rich sites or affiliate-rich sites will score well. Standard commercial sites, especially those with dynamic web pages (*10), will typically experience some difficulty.

If your website is product-focused, you may want to add complementary information sources. You may also want to develop, a strong, carefully crafted affiliate program.

Our next report will focus on our experimentation with affiliate software.

RATING SYSTEM

These sites were rated for usefulness and clarity, but alas, the rating is purely subjective.

* = Decent ** = Good *** = Excellent **** = Indispensable

Tools:

PageRank Calculator **
http://www.webworkshop.net/pagerank_calculator.php3

Google Toolbar ****
http://toolbar.google.com/

3D Google Link Analyzer ***
http://www.touchgraph.com/TGGoogleBrowser.html

Monitors the Google Datacenters for Updates and Enables You to “Watch” the Update as it Happens: **
http://www.google-dance.com

Googlebar for Mozilla/Linux: ***
http://googlebar.mozdev.org

Google Resource Library: ***
http://google.indicateur.com/

Humor:

The Vaunted PigeonRank System. (This is hilarious.) ****
http://www.google.com/technology/pigeonrank.html

Google Compute: Make a Contribution to Science by Enabling Google Toolbar Users to Donate Idle Computer Time to Worthwhile Causes. **
http://toolbar.google.com/dc/

Creating a Search Engine-Friendly Site: ***
http://www.unlv.edu/depts/web/searchengines.html

Coping with GDS, The Google Dance Syndrome: ***
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/
sereport/article.php/2216081

Why Google Hacks is a Bestseller: **
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/
searchday/article.php/2209681

Linking:

Is Aggressive Linking the Only Search Engine Optimization Strategy You Need? **
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/
searchday/article.php/2175161

131 Legitimate Linking Strategies: ****
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/
searchday/article.php/2160301

The Road to Link Popularity: **
http://www.clickz.com/search/opt/article.php/891831

Search Engine Link Popularity: *
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/
searchday/article.php/2159711

Winners Don’t Take All: Characterizing the Competition for Links on the Web: ***
http://modelingtheweb.com/

Using Google to Identify High-Quality Link Targets: **
http://www.searchengineguide.com/
ericward/2002/0305_ew1.html

How Important Are Reciprocal Links? **
http://www.akamarketing.com/
reciprocal-links-how-important-are-they.html

Redirect Affiliate Links (i.e. Commission Junction) Will Not Gain You PageRank. *
http://www.ihelpyouservices.com/forums/showthread.php
?s=a9aa9cf2161d5ce54f90934a5d0dfd65&threadid=9287

Link Popularity Check: **
http://www.linkpopularitycheck.com/

Link Popularity Check: **
http://www.linkpopularity.com/

Lawsuits:

SearchKing set up an affiliate system designed to basically “sell PageRank” via interlinking websites. Google stomped on it and penalized the sites involved, though there is debate as to if they were actually violating any of Google’s guidelines. SearchKing sued Google.

Good Explanation of What Happened by Jill Whalen ****
http://www.highrankings.com/issue029.htm#seonews

SearchKing Preliminary Injunction Denied *
http://research.yale.edu/lawmeme/modules.php
?name=News&file=article&sid=863

Final Ruling *
http://gooogle.searchking.com/dismiss.htm
http://www.out-law.com/php/page.php?page
_id=googlewinssearchr1054632148&area=news

Ratings (Competitive Comparisons):

Nielsen Ratings – Search Engines ****
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/reports/article.php/2156451

What Search Engine Powers Who?: ****
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/reports/article.php/2156401

Searches Per Day: ***
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/reports/article.php/2156461
Google beats its largest competitor, Overture, by 87 million searches per DAY.

Search Engine Showdown (Comparison Data): ****
http://www.searchengineshowdown.com/stats/index.shtml

Company (from Google):

Google Corporate Overview: ***
http://www.google.com/corporate/facts.html

Papers Written by Google Employees: ***
http://labs.google.com/papers.html

“GoogleGuy Says” – Weblog Quoting Google’s Representative on Webmasterworld Forums: ***
http://www.markcarey.com/googleguy-says/

Official Google Zeitgeist (top 10) Search Patterns and Trends Report: ****
http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html

Google Press Archives **
http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist/archive.html

Google News Service (Beta): ***
http://news.google.com/news/

Bringing Order to the Web (PDF): **
http://dbpubs.stanford.edu:8090/pub/showDoc.Fulltext
?lang=en&doc=1999-66&format=pdf&compression=

Explanations:

What Qualifies as Search Engine Spam? ***
http://www.marketing-internet.nu/seo-articles/
search-engine-spam.htm

Advice from Google for Webmasters in Choosing a SEO ****
http://www.google.com/webmasters/seo.html
(For more help, contact: research@marketingexperiments.com)

Efficient Crawling Through URL Ordering: **
http://www-db.stanford.edu/%7Echo/crawler-paper/

How Does Google Rank Pages? ****
http://www.google.com/webmasters/4.html

PageRank Explained Documents: ****
http://www.webworkshop.net/pagerank.html

A Survey of Google PageRank **
http://www.topsitelistings.com/advanced-seo/googlepagerank2.htm
http://pr.efactory.de/

The Handy Dandy Google PageRank Figurin’ Guide: ***
http://www.searchnerd.com/pagerank/

The Second Eigenvalue of the Google Matrix (Analytical Peek at Some of the Core Components of Google’s Famous PageRank Algorithm) *
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/2175131

Google PageRank Explained, Defined, Best Reference Resources: ****
http://www.masternewmedia.com/issue24/google_pagerank.htm

The Weight of Google PageRank in Ranking: ****
http://www.topsitelistings.com/searchengines/
google_pagerank_weight.htm

Quick To-Do List Concerning PageRank: **
http://www.cre8pc.com/howtopagerank.html

Google Do’s: ***
http://www.marketing-internet.nu/seo-articles/google-dos.shtm

Google Don’ts: ****
http://www.marketing-internet.nu/seo-articles/google-dont.shtm

Ranking High at Google: ***
http://www.apromotionguide.com/google.html

Very Simplistic Do’s and Don’ts: **
http://searchengineforums.com/searchengine.forums/
action::thread/thread::1054647178/forum::google/

Review the Endnotes for this Report

(*1) Google AdWords is Google’s primary paid advertising program that allows website owners to create their own ads, choose keywords to tell Google where to show their ads, and pay only when someone clicks on them. To find out more, visit: https://adwords.google.com/select/

Our recent study of Google AdWords is available here.

(*2) “PageRank is a numeric value that represents how important a page is on the web. Google figures that when one page links to another page, it is effectively casting a vote for the other page. The more votes that are cast for a page, the more important the page must be. Also, the importance of the page that is casting the vote determines how important the vote itself is. Google calculates a page’s importance from the votes cast for it. The importance of each vote is taken into account when a page’s PageRank is calculated.”

(*3) Source: http://www.google.com/technology/pigeonrank.html

(*4) The search engines we submitted to were:

AOL Search
AlltheWeb
Entire Web
Google
HotBot
Lycos
MSN
Yahoo Web Pages
Dmoz.org
Gimpsy.org
GoGuides.org
Alexa.com
ExactSeek.com
JoeAnt.com
NorthernLight.com
Voila.com
WiseNut.com
iWon.com
Dino Search.net
GigaBlast.com
Lookseek.com
Mirago.com
OnSeek.com
Rex-search.com
ScrubTheWeb.com
SearchIt.com
Subjex.net
WebSquash.com
Whatuseek.com
searchengine.com

(*5) Source: http://www.google.com/corporate/facts.html

(*6) Source: http://www.searchenginewatch.com/reports/article.php/2156461

(*7) Because of reporting overlaps, the total clicks from the Google directory had to be estimated.

(*8) Search Engine Optimization

(*9) Full crawl is when a search crawler such as Googlebot spiders all of the pages of your website.

(*10) Dynamic web pages are pages generated on-the-fly by a web server. They differ from static HTML pages and are often ignored by spidering search engines such as Google.

::Back to Section 1::

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