Saturday, December 01, 2007

Google Page rank - a contrarian view

Most SEO experts agree that:

The visible google page rank is a misleading short cut which we all use but which we shouldn't. It's a bad habit even glancing at that yellow bar.

I've said as much myself. But recently, I've developed a new view starting with the fact that page rank has recently been used by google is a novel way.

Google has dramatically dropped a number of people's page rank as a way of telling them that their site is breaking rules of conduct that google considers important. As Loren Baker explained:

In my opinion, by flipping the switch on changing the PageRank of some sites, Google is trying to send a message....

I think Google is trying to discourage sites from having an unfocused set of links on their site.

I've looked at a few of the sites that were penalized (admittedly, not as many as I would like) and surprisingly, I found them to be high quality sites. Where these sites seem to have run afoul of Google's sensitivities is by having links to sites in which Google could not find the relevance, the "common thread".

Google seems to want us to use text links to other sites only as natural links which is a component of content, not in any commercial sense. Google wants text links to be "natural" content links (around which they can build their search engine). Google seems to be saying that unlike banner ads which is an acceptable form (for google) of paid advertising, text links should only be used as part of "natural" content so they should be in paragraphs and only go to sites with relevant content. If they aren't, they should be run by java script (like adsense) or have "no follow" tags.

Returning to my original point. All the SEO pundits have been saying that although this time the page rank is actually a communication tool for google, it is generally a misleading and useless indicator. I'd like to disagree and submit a contrarian view: the google PR number is a useful measure of what it measures.

The fact is that I've seen a very strong correlation over the last four years between my viewable page rank and my position in the search engines.

I know that the page rank is easily manipulated. As far as I can tell, Google Page Rank is a simple time-delayed count of incoming links and a summary of their page rank without any dampening effect due to numbers of outgoing links or relevance. So, in my case where I am terribly white hat and spend my efforts generating original content and genuine links, my rise in page rank and in the search engines has been synchronous. For me, the Google PR is useful as a judge of my progress.

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