This directly fom Google.
PageRank Technology: PageRank reflects our view of the importance of web pages by considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Pages that we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top of the search results.
PageRank also considers the importance of each page that casts a vote, as votes from some pages are considered to have greater value, thus giving the linked page greater value. We have always taken a pragmatic approach to help improve search quality and create useful products, and our technology uses the collective intelligence of the web to determine a page’s importance.
So what does all this mean in lamens terms?
PageRank is an independent measure of Google’s perception of the quality/authority/credibility of an individual web page.
It does not depend on any particular search phrase. For the public (you and me), Google conveniently reports this as a number from 0-10 (10 being the best). So, assuming for a second that your web page and your competitors web-page has the same relevance – then whoever has the higher PageRank gets the better ranking – and shows up at the top of the results page.
This is why PageRank is so important. Your relevance is based on your content (if you’re a consulting company specializing in technical selling, your relevance for stainless steel monkey wrench searches is going to be understandably low). Your PageRank is what counts.
How PageRank Is Calculated
There has been a lot written and a lot debated about Google’s PageRank, but on one point there is near unanimous agreement.
PageRank is primarily determined by how many other web pages are linking into you. Google considers this kind of inbound a link a vote of confidence. But, here’s the trick: Not all inbound links are created equal.
Web pages with more credibility that link to you have more “value” to your PageRank than those with less credibility. How is this credibility determined? Why, by their PageRank, of course! So, let’s take an example.
Lets say you have your Uncle Charlie link to you from his blog to your small business website. Let’s also say that Uncle Charlie’s blog has a Page Rank of 3 (this is being a little generous because all Uncle Charlie writes about is his dog Sparky and he has limited inbound links). This link from Uncle Charlie will certainly help you – a little bit. It will help you more if you can find 100 such Uncle Charlie websites with a PageRank of 3 and get them to link to you.
However, if you get a single link from a site that is PR6 or above, it’ll help you more than a 100 Uncle Charlie websites. Why? Because it has a PageRank of 6 and a link from it is much more valuable. I divide up PageRank into these broad categories:
0-3: New sites or sites with very minimal links
4-5: Popular sites with a fair amount of inbound links
6: Very popular sites that have hundreds of links, many of them quality links
7-10: Usually media brands (NYTimes.com), big companies or A-list bloggers.
Now, it’s important to note that PageRank is believed to be calculated on a logarithmic scale. What this roughly means is that the difference between PR4 and PR5 is likely 5-10 times than the difference between PR3 and PR4. So, there are likely over a 100 times as many web pages with a PageRank of 2 than there are with a PageRank of 4. This means that if you get to a PageRank of 6 or so, you’re likely well into the top 0.1% of all websites out there. If most of your peer group is straggling around with a PR2 or PR3, you’re way ahead of the game.
What’s Your PageRank?
There are two ways to figure out what your approximate PageRank is. One, you can download the Google Toolbar (the PageRank feature is not turned on by default, so you’d have to enable it after installation).
The other way is to use our immensely popular (and free) Website Grader tool. It will not only tell you your Google PageRank, but a bunch of interesting other stuff.
Summary: Organic search is like free advertising.
It’s worth the investment to try and get a high ranking by the major search engines. To rank high you should do two things:
- First, make sure your site has the right relevant content for the types of searches your potential clients are conducting.
- Second, try to get the highest PageRank possible. To do this, you need to get as many inbound links from as many high PageRank web pages as possible.