If you have been in SEO for a while, you may remember the days of working hard to increase the PageRank of websites — it was the metric every SEO cared about and wanted to improve.
Improving PageRank meant improving your authority (usually with backlinks), which in turn could result in higher rankings and more traffic.
But what happened to PageRank? It's rarely talked about anymore.
Believe it or not, PageRank is still used as a ranking signal for Google, even if you haven't heard it mentioned in a while. Here, we'll explore what you need to know about Google PageRank in 2021.
What is Google PageRank?
Google PageRank is a very complex concept, but we are going to try and break it down to make it easy to understand.
PageRank uses a mathematical formula to score the value of a page based on the quality and quantity of the pages linking it to it.
The PageRank formula will look at the number of inbound links, external links, and the PageRank of those links to determine authority. The formula will create a score using a logarithmic scale with values ranging from 0-10.
The higher the PageRank score of a page, the more authoritative that page is.
You can get more in-depth information about the PageRank formula in the original paper that was published back in 1997.
The PageRank Toolbar
Years ago, there used to be a toolbar that could show you the PageRank of any webpage you visited.
Unfortunately, the toolbar was removed by Google back in 2016 — and the mystery of what your PageRank is has existed ever since.
The problem with the toolbar was that it created an obsession and caused many SEOs to try and find ways to manipulate it.
Essentially, the Google team realized that making this score public was adding little value to website owners and decided to stop investing in it.
Does Google still use PageRank?
Yes, Google does still uses PageRank.
While it may not be a metric that website owners have access to, it is still used in their algorithms.
A tweet by John Mueller, a Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, solidifies that PageRank is still used as a ranking signal.
Yes, we do use PageRank internally, among many, many other signals. It's not quite the same as the original paper, there are lots of quirks (eg, disavowed links, ignored links, etc.), and, again, we use a lot of other signals that can be much stronger.— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) February 24, 2020
How important is PageRank?
There is no clear measure of how important PageRank is. With there being over 200 Google ranking factors, they do not provide data on the importance of each factor.
But we do know that backlinks play a very large part in SEO success. So it's safe to assume that PageRank still plays a part in how highly your pages rank.
Spending time trying to improve your PageRank is probably not the best use of your time. But building relevant and authoritative backlinks to your website is an undeniably effective SEO strategy, and will likely improve your PageRank as a result.
You may not see the improvement as a metric, but you will see it in your organic traffic.
What influences Google PageRank?
There are some factors you should know about that can positively impact your PageRank. Let's dive into a few of those, now.
The primary way to improve your PageRank is through backlinks. The more relevant, high authority websites that link to you — the higher your PageRank will be.
Below are some ways to build valuable backlinks:
- Build relationships with influencers and community members in your niche.
- Create original infographics, webinars, videos, and other creative assets that encourage website owners to share and link to your post.
- Participate in forums and communities that are related to your niche.
- Share your content on social networks — tag relevant people if they are part of your content so they can share, too.
- Create amazing content!
Building backlinks is one of the best ways to grow your website, but it needs to be done properly. Be authentic, do not spam groups or communities, and most importantly — create content with which people can engage.
You also want to be sure you have cleaned up any bad backlinks. You can learn more about how to Disavow Links here.
Getting links from directories or pages that have a lot of links is not as beneficial for improving PageRank. Every link on a page will dilute the value of your link, so while directory-type links can be valuable in other ways, they will not be a big help for improving RageRank.
2. Internal Linking
One of the most underrated SEO tactics is internal linking. By using internal links to pass PageRank from one page to another, you can make a big impact on your rank and traffic.
As an example — your homepage will usually have the highest PageRank because of the number of websites linking to it.
Every link from your homepage to another page on your website will boost the authority of the page being linked to.
Additionally, consider using an SEO tool to identify pages within your website that have high authority, and adding links from those pages to lower-authority pages (when relevant) to give your pages a boost.
A quick trick is to look at your Google Analytics — usually the pages with the most organic traffic are the highest authority pages. So you can start using those pages to build internal links to less authoritative pages to give them a quick boost, as long as the links are relevant to the content on the page.
3. External Linking
One of the biggest myths I can remember about external links is that linking out from your content can diminish the PageRank of that page.
This is not true. Remember, the whole premise behind PageRank is links.
While the number of links on a page might affect the "value" of that link to the page being linked to, it does not harm your own. If you find a resource that is helpful for your viewers, then you should absolutely add a link to that resource.
A study done by Reboot showed that there was a positive correlation between rankings and the outbound links of a page.
How To Check Your PageRank
Unfortunately, there is no way for you to accurately know what your PageRank is.
There are some websites that claim to provide you with your PageRank, but these are not verified tools so there is no proof they are providing accurate data.
Other tools — like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz — have all created their own version of numerical values that were meant to replicate the PageRank score.
For example, SEMRush has what they call an "authority score", which offers a numerical value that can signal how helpful a backlink from a website may be. This score is based on the following:
- Monthly traffic to a website
- Average keyword position
- Backlink data
But Google doesn't use these scores in their ranking algorithm. So, while you can use them as a guide to understand your website authority, they do not replace PageRank.
While most SEOs don't give much thought to PageRank anymore, and do not try to optimize for it, it's still worth understanding. Ultimately, if you're working on building backlinks, improving your internal linking, and using authoritative external links, your PageRank will thank you for it.