Invented in 1999 by the current CEO of Google, Larry Page, PageRank is a method of ranking webpages based on the number of quality webpages that link to them. The idea sprung up from the need to organize academic journals in a database, and Larry found that the best way to do that was by counting the number of times a journal was cited by other journals. Fourteen years later, it has now become the backbone of the ranking algorithm Google uses to organize and list search results.
A good way to think about PageRank is to start by imaging a webpage that has 10 “points”, and each link on that page is assigned a percentage of those points. If said webpage has 10 links, each link will receive 1 “point” of PageRank. The more points of PageRank a site has, the better chance it has of ranking highly in organic search result listings. Google’s vast computational resources are used to constantly crawl the web, discover link associations between trillions of webpages, and calculate the PageRank score of each page.
The Random Surfer Model
This method of ranking pages by itself is imperfect, and will lead to infinite recursive loops if two webpages on the internet link to each other. To solve this problem, Larry added a decay factor which makes each link only pass 85% of its PageRank onto other pages it links out to. This decay is often referred to as the Random Surfer Model, as a typical web surfer does not click every single link on a page, and has the ability to visit a completely new and random page at any time.
PageRank and Web Spammers
Shortly after Google launched, spammers learned that they could manipulate their rankings by posting links to their sites on other sites, usually in the comment or forum sections. To prevent abuse, the “nofollow” link attribute was invented by the head of Google’s Search Quality Team, Matt Cutts. This attribute can be added to a hyperlink to indicate to search engines that the link should not be given PageRank points.
How Can I Build My Site’s PageRank?
A webmaster can improve their site’s PageRank by getting several quality links from websites that are authorities in their niche. Keep in mind that PageRank is not the sole factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, and they use over 200 other signals to determine where a page will show up in organic search results as well.
If you would like to learn more about optimizing your website to perform better in search engines, Amsive Digital brings a combination of technical expertise, marketing experience, and an individual commitment to the client to each campaign; a combination that produces higher rankings, and better business.