Pagerank has to be one of the misunderstood aspects of improving website Search Engine Optimization (SEO). And it’s really no wonder; the processes are unnecessarily arcane and it’s difficult to know what things are, their importance, and how to use information to your website’s advantage.

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The key thing to understand about Pagerank is that, as an author, you have limited control over where you will rank. I could argue that writing articles which attract more people will improve your Pagerank, but that’s giving your content a magic they don’t have in this arena. The truth is a bit less sweet than that. Your Pagerank is strongly influenced by how many other websites link to your website. And that’s why I’ve titled this article as I have.

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Chart ImageOne thing that the blogging community habitually does is link to other blogs. This is done through Blogrolls, linkspam articles, and citations. Bloggers who don’t link are the devils spawn. But hold the pitchforks and torches! I used to be quite the devil in this regard in the early days, but I’ve learned and changed and still have considerable room for improvement. I also don’t really think that wicked, evil bloggers are maliciously plotting to destroy the blogosphere Pagerankings. More often than not, we don’t know the connection between Pagerank, site traffic, and cross-blog communication.

What is Pagerank?

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I’ll talk about Google here because they’ve got the internets cornered when it comes to search results. Pagerank analyzes links to pages on your site from other websites and then ranks it’s popularity. That’s Pagerank.

The idea is that popular websites are popular because they’re linked the most and therefore must be important. Therefore everything those sites link to must also be important. That’s how Pagerank works in a nutshell and it makes a certain kind of sense, but it’s also clear where this arrangement is unfair. It’s a system in which even low-ranking sites with significant linkage to other low-ranking sites can still find it difficult to climb the ranks because popular sites effectively have greater say in determining what ranks highest. And this is why you have limited influence over your Pagerank. You can’t control who links to you.

The Googlebots are also smart. You can’t fool it into increasing your Pagerank (not very easily, though it’s surely a pastime of spammers). This means you can have excellent SEO and still get a low Pagerank. But be comforted: most sites don’t have 9’s and 10’s. Having your pages rank at all for a small blog is a small victory (and by rank I mean more than 1 for 10). Keep working on it!

How can I improve it?

As I mentioned earlier, your sphere of influence here is limited. The thing with Pagerank improvement is that it’s more effective when higher ranking sites link you. So while you may do every technical thing on your end, it’s not a sure-fire way to improve Pagerank. This is why blogs hosted on WordPress.com have an easier time gaining higher Pagerank than those which are not. WordPress.com is a popular site.

What you can do, however, are the things listed above: Blogrolls, linkspam, and citations from other sites. You can also link to pages on your own site. It’s not called “Page” rank for nothing! It used to (and actually still does) drive me crazy when I visit popular websites and all the links within a given article link to another page on their site. For example, maybe they hyperlinked the phrase “car accident” and you figure clicking on it will lead you to the primary source — WRONG! They’ve got a damn category named “car accident”. So why do they do this? Because it helps their pagerank.

Your website isn’t ranked as a whole thing. Each page on it is ranked individually and that means some pages of your site will rank higher than others. Consider this a very, very good opportunity. Keep this in mind when writing some of your feature articles!

So why bother with SEO?

Keeping your SEO in order is still great for your site. Not only does it improve its organization, but it makes it easy for search bots to crawl, thus increasing your visibility across the web. Also, an organized website is like a clean house. You’ll feel more at home.

While optimizing to make sure your pages pop up in relevant search results should be a strong motivation, having a site that’s easy to surf for readers who already know about you is equally important. After all, readers passing around your site’s name and address, and personally vouching for its trustworthiness is also a strong vote of confidence that you just can’t get from Pagerank. Do it for them!

How can the blogosphere help itself?

Well, I think we do a bang up job as it is truthfully. My advice to new bloggers is to develop a healthy feedback loop for your blog. This means adopting an ethos of sewing the kinds of things you want to harvest later. Simply writing articles isn’t enough. Writers have to read tons if they hope to remain relevant and to improve. For me, the process typically goes:

  • Read (lots of) other blogs.
  • Comment on (lots of) other blogs.
  • Write related topics to the ones I just read, careful to link back the sources of inspiration.
  • Link to myself in my articles where applicable.
  • Keep a blogroll.

Even if your Blogroll is short (and it probably will be; I simply don’t know all the blogs out there and I’m pretty awful at regularly updating the list), just having it will make your blog feel more connected to the community.

And don’t be superficial about any of this. Read blogs you have a genuine interest in. Balance that list with blogs which don’t share your views, but which are good sites nonetheless (to decrease the echo and round out your own perspectives). Don’t leave comments for the sake of commenting or to slap your name around the blogosphere; engage topics you have an interest in. Finally, don’t link for the sake of linking. The bots hate nothing more than unrelated linking and will actually ignore your pages if they suspect that’s the case. Keep your content relevant, stay on topic.

Most of us read many of the popular sites that cover gaming like Massively, 1-Up, Rock Paper Shotgun, and company. Keep doing that too and commenting on those sites as well.

I hope that this article has made you less anxious or over-concerned about Pagerank. While it’s important to getting your site noticed in searches, it’s the kind of thing you can only improve by improving your sites relationships with other sites. Doesn’t that give NBI a whole new level of special? Network within the community and continue to improve your content. That’s the best way to go about improving Pagerank in the long run.

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  • MightyVikingHamster

    I really need to implement a blogroll. If anything I will have an easy way of having links to all my favorite blogs in one spot.

    • http://www.trredskies.com/ Doone Woodtac

      Shameful devil Hamster!

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