Back in October many webmasters were panicking as Google apparently reduced the Pagerank of millions of websites. Pandemonium ensued as many webmasters worried themselves sick as to why this had happened and how they could restore their glorious Pagerank back to their website. So why did this happen? Lets look first at Pagerank and how it is predetermined. Pagerank is widely speculated to be calculated in accordance with the number and quality of incoming links to a website.
It's a complex formula that only Google knows, also noticing the importance of the page that the link originates from. Pagerank is measured on a scale of 1 to 10 but it is not a linear scale ie getting from 8 to 9 is a lot, lot harder than getting from 7 to 8. Also it is believed to include other factors such as the authority and trust of a website. Pagerank is wrongly believed by many webmasters to be the main critical factor that determines their search engine ranking positions ( SERPS). In reality there are a huge amount of factors that Google looks at to determine the SERPS, Pagerank is just one of them although it can be a deciding factor if all other things are equal.
The result over the last few years has turned many webmasters into Pagerank junkies. They obsess about their Pagerank, about getting links from other sites with higher Pagerank, they decline to link to sites with lower Pagerank etc etc. This has led to a whole industry of websites buying and selling links according to the Pagerank of the link page. And this is what has infuriated sleeping dragon over at Google. It has been rumoured that this readjustment of the Pagerank scores is due to Google penalising websites that are involved in the purchasing and selling of text links, with the main aim of passing on Pagerank and hence improving their SERPS. It is also suspected that sites have lost Pagerank as a result of bad linking, broken linking and other general errors.
The thinking behind this is to do with Trust and Authority - Google thinks that a site with broken links and links to "bad neighbourhoods" is not one that should get a high trust score. So was this the definitive reason for the Pagerank meltdown? No, it is unlikely that this was the sole underlying reason, as many many sites were affected that had no involvement in buying or selling links. It is much more likely that this was a complete overhaul or readjustments of Google's Pageranks scoring systems, which has led to an across the board reassessment. The fact that so many experts have been jumping up and down about the trading of links as a reason, is a theory that Google are probably only too happy to let us believe. The fact is they do not like the buying and selling of links for the purposes of increasing SERPS, so they're happy to let us believe that they've applied penalties to this, in the hope that it will deter webmasters from doing this in future.
The real reasons will probably never be known. So how can you increase your site's pagerank? - Firstly you should continue to engage in an ongoing link building campaign, getting links from websites of a similar theme to yours. Do not get hung up about Pagerank. - Steer clear of the dubious strategies that Google dislike such as buying and selling of text links. If you must buy text links, ensure the "no follow" tag is inserted in the link.
That said, it is much safer to totally avoid them. - Check to make sure that your site has no broken links - including links to other sites, and does not link to sites that may be considered bad , such as spammy sites and those involved in accepting payments for text links. There are too many urban myths concerning Pagerank and the reality is it is not the "be all and end all". Just concentrate on optimising your site and building incoming links, getting good content and applying a good relevant theme to your website and let everyone else stress about Pagerank.
At the end of the day, it just isn't that important.
Robin Porter is CEO of Arpey Internet, a Kent web design company that provides corporate web design services