11/10/2004

PageRank is not how your page ranks

Google PageRank ImageFor those who don't frequent SEO forums, I thought I'd clarify an often-misunderstood term: PageRank.

Named after Google founder Larry Page, PageRank does not mean "how a page ranks" but only the number of pages that link to yours, and how important Google has deemed those pages to be.

Now, of course, bloggers have long since discovered the value and strength of links in ranking pages at Google. And I'm sure that this type of link manipulation works just fine when you can get zillions of other sites to link to a particular page using a specific term in the link text. However, for web designers, I'm thinking it would be highly impractical to expect to get zillions of other sites to link to hundreds/thousands of your clients' pages on an ongoing basis. At least, without ticking them off royally. 'Tis a problematic thing.

That's where search engine optimization comes in. PageRank is one part of the 100+ factors that Google uses to rank website pages — an important part, yes, but only part. Coupled with website optimization, you have a more powerful method of getting client pages to rank well, and a better product to deliver to clients.

Now, I'm aware from reading a few blogs out there that SEO has gotten a b-a-d name among web designers and bloggers. The blog I read today (no fingers pointed; that's not my intention) mentioned auto-generated gibberish pages flooding the search results. Well, that's one way of doing it, but there are also SEOs who don't go in for that sort of thing. (I say that lightly, but there are very strong feelings in the industry about this.) No, optimizing real websites with real content (don't you hate that word by now) is a bird of a different feather, and it certainly takes more time and skill than auto-generating anything: (a) good ad copy that is (b) optimized. Not a five-second deal. Not a five-second deal at all.

On the other hand, I'm thinking that it's a little ::cough:: disingenous to blame SEOs of *any* ilk for manipulating search engine results if you're encouraging other sites to link to a page for ranking purposes. And if you're thinking that you don't want to "mess up" your great content with optimization, you now know where every site owner sits. ;-)

Yes, I know: my browser looks nice (picture above); at least, I think so. It's Opera, with the Mac OSX Grey – Metal Edition skin, which is available at the Opera website.

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