You can’t dip your toe into the seo waters without coming across the term “Page Rank” or PR. But what is it and how can we put it work for us? Let’s find out…
What is Page Rank?
99% of people think Google invented Page Rank? Is that true? NOPE! Page Rank is a piece of software developed at Stanford University by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1996 (that’s years before Google.com was even a registered domain!). Despite it seeming like the name “Page” is in reference to website pages, the term is more likely to be a nod to its co-founder Larry.
Today, Page Rank is one of many algorithms that Google uses to determine website rankings. In crude terms, Page Rank collects data on links and interprets them as ‘votes’. In the days before social networks, Page Rank played an important part in determining how useful a site was; the higher the Page Rank, the more links or ‘votes’ a site had.
Page Rank Values
All website have been attributed with a Page Rank value between 0 and 10, with 10 being the highest accolade, and 0 the lowest. Twitter.com, one of the most-used websites in the world, has a PR of 10, and Google.com itself is PR9.
There is a distinction to be made between Page PR and Domain PR, Page PR refers to the PR score of a single page only, and domain PR refers to the entire domain. To illustrate, Twitter.com, as explained above, is PR9, but the twitter page of Matt Cutts is PR
Links from sites with a high Page Rank (meaning they have lots of inbound links themselves) result in an increase of link juice being passed, which can also mean an increase in Page Rank. This is the founding principle of seo: get links to your site from sites with links them them and enjoy glorious rankings. But now it’s 2013, and 1996 is a distant memory. What can we expect to gain from using the principles of Page Rank in 2014 and beyond?
Page Rank Phase Out
Since Google do not own the Page Rank system, they lease it from Stanford. The patent lease is due to expire in 2014 and Google have been phasing out support for the system for a while, since they removed PageRank crawl statistics from Webmaster Tools in 2009. With that in mind, the rush for page rank increase has eased off in the last few years, leading to an increase in emphasis on other authority markers.
Page Rank Alternatives
PageRank is not the only mark of website authority; here are 4 more valuable factors to check when evaluating a website:
- Domain Authority – created by the seomoz team (now just moz), domain authority takes into account the number of inbound links, diverse root domains and other moz-created factors like MozRank and MozTrust (see below). Those that like to speculate and plan ahead believe that Domain Authority (DA) will supersede PR in 2014. DA is scored out of 100, with an increase being more difficult to achieve amongst the lower values (i.e. from 10 to 20).
- Page Authority – another moz tool, Page Authority is exactly the same as Domain Authority, but it applies just to a specific site page and not the whole domain or subdomain. This is the equivalent of Page PR.
- MozRank – looks like moz have the monopoly on quality markers; MozRank is a score out of 10 given for link popularity. The more links a site has, the higher the MozRank will be. This is a simplified version of PR.
- MozTrust – uh oh, these guys are still at it; MozTrust is a measure, from 0 to 10, of link trust. Trusted sites are said to be large institutions and authoritative sites (think BBC, Wikipedia, Stanford etc); the closer your site is to links from them, the higher the MozTrust score will be. So, if you have a link from a site that has a link from the BBC, you get more Trust than if you have a link from a site with a link from a site with a link from a site with a link from the BBC. Confused yet? Think of it like friends: it’s better to be pals with Brad Pitt, or be a friend of a friend, rather than a friend of his agent’s roomate’s dog-trainer’s neighbour. Got it? Good!
So are there PR alternative web metrics that aren’t owned by moz? Well, yes, but they’re not as commonly discussed.Majestic SEO have a few markers themselves: Citation Flow (number of backlinks) and Trust Flow (how good backlinks are, similar to MozTrust and PR). It’s also worth looking at Index Count, the number of pages indexed in you search engine of choice.
Looking ahead to 2014, it seems like seo professionals will need to jump on the moz bandwagon to stay on top of the game when Page Rank takes a nosedive.