The Quest for PageRank

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PageRank is a number that Google uses to represent how important a page is for the search engine. As more and more people start exclusively using Google, the PageRank method for assigning importance becomes a priority for content producers wanting to rank higher in search results. But as with everything, there are those who will accumulate rank organically and those for whom the end justifies the means.
Organically accumulating PageRank would mean regularly writing content that breaks news, encourages debate, or provides ‘evergreen’ material that creates long-term value for users (for example, tutorials, how-to’s and so on). This kind of content naturally gets linked to as other people report on news that you have broken, or write responses to debates you have started, or link to your tutorials/how-to’s for their respective readers. Furthermore, this process can be sped up by using social media sites and making your content instantly available to a larger audience.
Not everyone, however, wants to write their way to a naturally high PageRank. On the other side are people who are willing to manipulate their PageRank using frowned-upon techniques such as buying links (or link-based advertisements) from sites that rank higher thank you (to drive traffic as well as increase your PageRank). Furthermore, there has always been a persistent effort by webmasters to get listed in open directories such as dmoz and Wikipedia. While these latter communities build up their importance and their ranking by creating value for millions of people, others try to benefit from it without putting the effort in.
These ‘black-hat’ techniques that allow you to manipulate PageRank aren’t just bad for yourself and your image (as these ‘tricks’ have a tendency to be exposed at one point or another) but they are also bad for the community that you are abusing. For example, at one point a link from dmoz was PageRank gold. But recognizing the importance of those links, sleazy webmasters descending on the community to the point that it was reduced to a cordoned off section of the web, inhabited by spammers and fraudsters. To prevent a similar fate, Wikipedia, which once removed the nofollow tags on all outbound links, reinstated it so that the site wouldn’t be exploited for links.
While I don’t see these ‘manipulators’ stopping anytime soon, if we keep restating the message of natural growth, I think we can begin to make a difference. In the end, people that play within the system will be rewarded and people that try to circumvent the system will be locked out of the sandbox forever.

Cameron Olthuis

Cameron Olthuis

Cameron Olthuis

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  • Ben Cook

    Mu, you’ve really disappointed me! You’ve bought into Google’s FUD tactics. Buying links or advertising via links is not frowned upon by anyone but Google and even then, only if the links aren’t tagged with the nofollow tag. That’s just because their algorithm has placed a huge emphasis on links and yet is not able to deal with the practice of purchasing links. Besides, what constitutes a paid link? If you help me out with a problem on my site and I then link to you thanking you, does that count as a paid link? What if your help had monetary value? In a sense, isn’t linking to good quality content rewarding them with a link for the benefit and knowledge they provided you? Doesn’t that then become a paid link?
    The truth is linking has driven the internet from day 1 and despite Google’s best efforts, it’s going to continue without conforming to their arbitrary and self serving “guidelines”.

  • ryo

    As long as google page ranking exist, people will find ways to improve their ranking to get maximum exposure.

  • Pedro Sttau

    Muhammad, I agree with what the other said, and was a bit disappointed with the article.
    In addition to the other comments, Wiki isn’t really a directly, furthermore all of the links are nofollow, making them virtually useless as far as link weight is concerned.

  • Ace Training

    Welcome to life
    As long as their is money to be made or fame there is going to be someone trying to figure out how to get around the rules
    One should always concentrate on the 95 % rather than the odd 5 %.
    Concentrating on substance and growth will always drive events to new highs
    Where would the internet be – indeed where would mankind be
    In Russia everyone had a job but no one had enough to eat

  • Jaan Kanellis

    Google created the arena monetization of PR and now they want me and you to fix it with nofollow. I say get rid of the toolbar PR and it will help alleviate a lot of the misguided link buying. If that happened then people would by links for good reasons like traffic and relevancy. Google then could stop worrying so much about people buying links and start chasing down link networks which is a bigger issue.

  • Ryan

    I’d have to agree with the sentiment that the others here have echoed. How many sites are getting paid to blog about other websites, goods and services? Not so long ago even the venerated(?) Federated Media was implicated in just such a controversy. ( I don’t think Google has a magic crystal ball that allows them to see who is profiting where. Is Google really positioning themselves to be the ministry of truth with that slag Matt Cutts as the minister? It’s a herculean task that would be impossible to do accurately. Besides, there is nothing unethical about getting paid for your services, whether they be blogging, promoting, or passing on your site’s trust (pagerank or otherwise) to partner sites by linking to them.

  • Scenic British Columbia

    When it comes to ranking a website its not what is your pagerank, it really boils down to how does your page rank. Although Pagerank is a great indicator of a sites health, in no way should it be the be all of SEO indicators. One of my websites is a PR0, but it beats out sites with PR4+ for my target key phrase. Granted I don’t expect it to stay PR0 after the next update.
    And paid links are bad, my approach is to get sponsorships in return for links such as camera hardware or free accommodations. Cheers.

  • kristen

    It’s not about the page rank it’s about the traffic. Who’s reading, how many are reading, and how long are they reading. It’s about quality content not page rank. Too bad most don’t get it.

  • peter

    now pr is not importance