PageRank: Scoring Your Site

To help your site get noticed, you need to understand how Google runs a web search.
Imagine you type dog breeding into the Google search page. First, Google peers
into its gargantuan catalog of sites, looking for pages that use those keywords.
Google prefers pages that include the keywords “dog breeding” more than once,
and pages that put them in important places (like headings and page titles). Of
course, Google is also on the lookout for sites that try to game the system, so a
page that’s filled with keyword lists and repetitive text is likely to get ignored at
best, and blacklisted at worst.
Even with these requirements, a typical Google search turns up hundreds of thousands
(or even millions) of matching pages. To decide how it should order these
pages in its search results, Google uses a top-secret formula called PageRank.
PageRank determines the value of your site by the community of websites that
link to it. Although the full PageRank recipe is incredibly convoluted (and entirely
secret), its basic workings are well known:
• The more sites that link to you, the better.
• A link from a better, more popular site (a site with a high PageRank) is more
valuable than a link from a less popular site.
• A link from a more selective site is better than a link from a less selective site.
That’s because the more outgoing links a site has, the less each link is worth. So
if someone links to your site and just a handful of others, that link is valuable. If
someone links to your site and hundreds of other sites, the link’s value is diluted.

FINDING YOUR PAGERANK

Because of the power of PageRank scores, it’s no surprise that web authors want
to know how their pages are doing. But Google won’t give out the real PageRank
of a web page, even to its owner.
That said, Google does allow website owners to see a simplified version of their
PageRank score, which gives you a general idea of your site’s performance. The
simplified PageRank is based on the real thing, but Google updates it just twice a
year, and it provides only a value from 1 to 10. (All things being equal, a website rated
10 will turn up much higher in search results than a page ranked 1.)
There are two ways to find your website’s simplified PageRank. If you use the Google
Chrome browser, you can add a handy browser plug-in to do the job (get it at http://
tinyurl.com/pr-extension). Another approach is to use an unofficial PageRankchecking
website, like www.prchecker.info.

The simplified PageRank score isn’t always accurate. If you submit a site that’s very
new, or hasn’t yet established itself on the Web (in other words, few people are
visiting it and no one’s linking to it), you may not get a PageRank value at all.
TIP Don’t worry too much about your exact PageRank. Instead, use it as a tool to gauge how your website
improves or declines over time. For example, if your home page scored a PageRank of 4 last year but a 6 this
year, your promotion is clearly on the right path.

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PageRank: Scoring Your Site

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