Why Links Matter/ed – PageRank
Introduction to PageRank
When you have the job of organizing the world-wide-web, you need some method of assigning value to each page the web contains. For Google and its creators Larry Page and Sergey Brin, this value came to be known as PageRank. This arbitrary value is a combination of several parameters associated with any and every page saved to their index. PageRank is meant to offer an ‘absolute quality’ for any given page. It was understood in the early years of Google (circa 2008-2010) that the top elements used in PageRank were links pointing to pages (+), the number of links on a page (-), and page-level qualities (e.g. technical coding, content, terms, etc.).
As far back as 1998, when Page and Brin initially presented Google to Stanford University, the idea of their indexing system was to evaluate content on the web and present the findings to users for easy accessibility. During the process of evaluation each page would be indexed, quantified and stored based on over 200 factors.
In 2014, what matters the most in that evaluation? Not only to businesses but also to Google?
What Matters in 2014 for PageRank
Over the years we have all become a little jaded when we hear the term ‘algorithm’ when having conversations about Google.
“Hey, did you hear about the latest algo change?”
“The local algo is really messing with my business.”
We may have forgotten the mathematics involved in Google’s process of ranking and valuing. There is a lot of science behind the Google algorithm(s). Even with all the updates, the fact that search platforms use mathematic equations has stayed the same.
The updates the Google team makes are centered on the quality of the indexed results, incorporation of user feedback (this is where ‘organic’ comes from) and the inclusion of their business plan (sadly). Money is now a major motivator of the search algorithm and the changes being made. So, in 2014, what factors are within our power to influence search to position our web pages in prime positions?
Five Facts of PageRank
- Links – As with the first iterations of the Google algorithm, links are a primary factor in the mathematics used to determine the value of a web page. The algorithm has evolved past just looking at the number of links and focuses more on the quality of links. This means, the links pointing at a web page pass value, but that value is evaluated for relevancy along with some concern with ‘why’ the link exist. Why is this page linking to that page (and visa versa)? Why would a user click on the link? Ensuring pages linking to your web page(s) are appropriate is vitally important.
- Content – Building a great site is one thing, having tons of great links is another, but all of that only makes since when the content of the site is worthy of existing. Content is king but only when the kingdom is worthy of subjects! The best kind of links come from users that enjoy your content; whether it is a product, service, educational, informational, or just entertaining. The content is the meat of the experience, without it the page is just an empty plate.
- Context – Theme here is that links bring visitors, those visitors are looking for content relevant to them and their interest. Context gives them reason to read, digest the content, and finally act. Pages on the Internet exist to have users take action in some form. By definition context helps them understand why the page is useful, what they should do next, where they should do it, when they should do it, and how to do it—whatever it may be. These are the 4Ws and the H of content.
- Quality – This goes without saying but everything in the process of web content and digital creation should have a focus on quality. The links, the website hosting the page, and the functionality should all speak to the care and concern of the brand or individual behind it. This leads to…
- Authorship/Credibility – With all the talk of content and quality, the mathematic quotient leans heavily on identifying authors of content that resides on the web. Much of the pages in the index are now correlated to individual authors, groups of authors, and/or brand authors. Authors, in regards to digital content, are actually giving author rank and in-turn, the content associated with them is given value based on the author’s rank and value (or lack thereof).
Take the time to do right by the users and the math. If you are researching topics like this PageRank article, then most likely you care enough about doing things the right way, for the right reasons to make the Internet a better place. The original purpose of the search engines, not only Google, was to produce an effective way for users to find answers to their questions.
As owners and webmasters in specific industries the search engines and their users are looking for you, your answers to their queries, and to connect with you. The algorithm is just a means to that end, help them by connecting with relevant link sources, creating great content and building credibility and they will help you! It’s a win-win-win situation that starts with you.
Now, go be AWESOME!
http://ilpubs.stanford.edu:8090/422/1/1999-66.pdf – The PageRank Citation Ranking: Bringing Order to the Web
http://ilpubs.stanford.edu:8090/361/1/1998-8.pdf – The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine