An Entrepreneur's Guide to Google PageRank & Search Engine Optimization

01 JUL 2010

Doug Richard, Founder of School for StartupsAlmost every business owner benefits from understanding the fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  It allows them to derive more revenue from the time and effort they spend marketing their products and services. PageRank is, perhaps, the key concept you must understand in order to optimize your web site design for maximum profitability.

Why Page Rank is Critical

The internet represents millions, if not tens of millions, of customers for almost any product or service.  On any given day thousands of those customers are actively looking for what you have to sell using the internet’s search engines.  Google, the most widely used search site on the internet, receives billions of requests every day.

Where your website appears when customers search for your products using keywords has a great deal to do with whether or not they find your products and services. You can, through Google Adwords, put your business at the top of any search engine list, but you’ll pay for each and every click. This can be very expensive. It is far more effective to make your “natural” or “organic” list position in Google search pages as high as possible.  To achieve this objective, you need to understand how Google orders a list of websites using PageRank.

Google describes PageRank as follows:

PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important”.

A quick overview of the PageRank process follows:

  • Google continuously “spiders” the the internet, scanning at all the sites in its database.
  • It looks at the most frequently used words on each page.
  • It looks at the connections between pages.
  • It looks at the number of pages on a site.
  • It looks at the amount of traffic each site gets when searches are performed.
  • It gives the highest PageRank for a given keyword to the pages that use the keyword frequently, have lots of traffic, and have lots of incoming links from other high traffic pages that have the same keyword.
  • The highest page rank is 10. The lowest is 0.

Page rank goes from 0 to 10, with new sites having a rank of 0 and good sites having a rank of 10.  In theory, the steps for increasing your page rank, called search engine optimization, are simple:

  • Have a keyword or key phrase for which there are not many sites
  • Have many sites with a page rank of 10 point to your website.
  • Have many sites point to your page.
  • Use the keywords on your page that customers search for when they want to buy what you sell.

Not surprisingly, people try to game the system and Google detects it:

  • If you use a keyword too frequently, Google lowers your rank.  Higher than 3% use of a given keyword is though to make google suspicious.
  • If you pay sites to link to you, Google is likely to detect a problem.  After all, the site that points to you only has outgoing links.
  • If you trade links, Google is likely to detect a problem.  Links that come in and right out again are suspicious.

Taking time to optimize your website for maximum PageRank is a good investment of your time and effort.  A high ranking site can be your most effective sales tool, and it can add significantly to the value of your business.

  1. Thanks for this great summary. Making a complex subject of SEO and page ranking into the basic concepts is very helpful to the non techies of the world.