Looking Beyond Pagerank as a Link Building Metric
SEO is not what is used to be. We all remember the days when getting a website to the top of Google was as easy as finding a few high Pagerank blogs and buying a text link ad containing your keyword. Bang! Your website is at the top and you are rich! Today’s SERP landscape is not that easy to manipulate. Google’s algorithms have evolved from their infancy where inbound link weight and positioning was largely based on Pagerank.
The early idea of Pagerank was essentially to meter of the popularity of any website. The more links a website had from authority sources, regardless of the relevancy of the linking websites, your Pagerank increased. And this increase was seen every month or two so it was easy for any novice webmaster to study the effectiveness of their inbound link building efforts. Get a link, watch your PR increase, be happy, get more links, etc.
Today, Pagerank is updated randomly. I have seen instances with websites in the answering service industry where it has been a year between updates and other times where updates have come every 5 months or 3 months. Whatever the cycle, unless it is consistently made available during specific intervals, the data is far less relevant than is used to be, at least as a quantifiable variable you can use to measure your websites authority. By the time Google gets around to letting you see your Pagerank, it could have gone up or down. Don’t believe me? Do a quick search for your websites niche and write down the Pagerank of the top 20 websites. If it was a critical metric, you would see obvious patterns in the distribution of search results related to their PR. This is not the case. I have not done any actual studies on the correlation between PR and placement, but I can speak from experience that it is quote low. I would estimate the correlation to be somewhere near .07.
So should you completely toss out Pagerank when looking for link partners or websites to post your content? Probably not considering it was at one time the basis for the entire Google ranking algorithm. Logically, it must still have a place in their results page. The trick is to find out how it is being used today. Google themselves have said that they are constantly updating Pagerank internally, so it must be useful, right?
Don’t ditch Pagerank! Let’s shift the paradigm and use it as an important part to helping determine the quality of a website. Here are some easy recommendations that involve using PR as a collateral metric:
•A Good Place to Start: If you are looking for websites to post content or even buy links from (yikes!), don’t be scared to look at the PR. It is a good place to start gauging the quality of a website. Even if the figures are updated every 12 months, if the site has a strong PR, it shows that at one time they were viewed as a strong website. Again, don’t jump to that link just yet.
•Check the History: There are free tools online that let you look at the historical PR of a website. Before you think about getting a link from a website, make sure their PR is not jumping around too much. Any major gains or losses in PR are usually from link manipulation and that site may be dangerous to be aligned with. If I see a site that jumped from 2 to 5 to 7 to 3, I would stay as far from that as I can. Google is basically saying, “Hey – we got you. No more or we’ll kick you out.”
•Is The Content Relevant: Make sure the website that is linking to you is relevant to your website. I would rather take a link from a pr0 webpage that is highly relevant to my website than a link from a pr5 irrelevant website.
•PR Is Not Everything: Don’t just look at the PR, think of the weight of the entire site. An internal link from a spidered pr0 page at whitehouse.gov would be amazing . Not to contradict the above point but even if your website does not have anything to do with NASA, don’t stop them from linking to your website.
I hope the above helps in your link building efforts. If you start thinking like a person and stop trying to think like a machine, your website will grow naturally. Be smart about your inbound linking efforts and don’t be a slave to Pagerank.