I’m having a little rant… forgive me… but first, as a reminder, Page Rank is a Google-specific measure of a website – a vote, by all the other pages on the Web, about how important a page is (by linking to that page). A link to a page counts as a vote of support. If there’s no link there’s no support (but it’s an abstention from voting – you can’t vote ‘against’ a web page).
Ever since its introduction, many years ago now, SEOs have struggled to some extent with the concept of Page Rank. Link Building was the answer, and specialists sprung up around the globe who would find ‘directory’ sites happy to put a link in to the ‘target’ site.
Some of these were, and still are, ‘paid’ links. I’m going to brush over this for a while… it’s not really relevant – all you need to think is that there are ‘good quality’ and ‘bad quality’ links.
Google uses a (necessarily) secret algorithm to determine how many sites link to another site, and then calculates the Page Rank. It discounts ‘bad’ links, even penalises and reduces Page Rank for sites with xx number of ‘bad’ links.
The conundrum: A ‘bad’ link to your site won’t help towards boosting your page rank, it’ll actually result in Google penalising you in the search results. Bummer.
But this is the root of the problem… who decides what is a bad link and what is a good link? Can it be automated? No, I’d argue, it can’t. And as soon as complex algorithms require human intervention, they become pretty useless.
And if Page Rank is meant to see the web as being democratic, Google’s blacklistring of paid link sites and link farms is intervention in that democracy – skewing the vote – albeit with some strange worthy intent, but still skewing it. And with not much success, as Matt Cutts demonstrates here.
Search engines should endeavour to provide the most relevant websites in response to a particular keyword or phrase. In manipulating how a search engine ranks a website, the easiest way is always going to be ensuring the website is as relevant as possible to that keyword or phrase.
Our job, as SEOs, is to help a website display it’s best potential to the search engines and hence the customers.
Page Rank’s had its day. Every effort of the search engine spidering technique development MUST get into truly understanding PAGE CONTENT. As long as it tries to give some weight to inbound links, people will try to subvert that through link building. Can you blame people for wanting to get up the Google rankings? After all, Google’s Adwords are not democratic – they favour those who can afford it. Organic search should simply favour good, relevant content – a level playing field.