The PageRank(PR) Algorithm

A typical SEO strategy begins with basic tags, titles, and descriptions. You optimize your tags and fill your pages with juicy content and then submit your site to the search engines. Before long you see they have indexed and cached all of your site’s pages. But then nothing much happens. Sure, your site is included in the search engines, and it shows up in the results pages for certain keywords, but there is plenty of room for improvement. You are not where you want to be. But you’ve chosen the perfect combination of keywords and content, so what else can you do? Answer: improve your PageRank (PR).

The most important factor in determining where your site will appear in the search engines in relation to your competitor’s site is PageRank. This is Google’s term for how many inbound links you have. Other engines use other terms, but they all mean the same thing.

Here’s a quote from Google:

The heart of our software is PageRank™, a system for ranking web pages developed by our founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University. And while we have dozens of engineers working to improve every aspect of Google on a daily basis, PageRank continues to provide the basis for all of our web search tools.

Google wasn’t always called Google. The original name for the most important search engine ever built was BackRub, so named for its ability to crawl and analyze backlinks. It’s what they do. The PageRank algorithm, the formula Google uses to calculate PR, is based mostly on the number of inbound links:

PR(A) = (1 – d) + d (PR (t1) / C (t1) + … + PR (tn) / C (tn))


PR = PageRank

A = Web page A

d = A damping factor, usually set to 0.85

t1…tn = Pages linking to Web page A

C = The number of outbound links from page tn

This is not as complicated as it looks. You don’t have to be a math whiz to see that the more inbound links you have, the higher your PR. Also, your PR will decrease with every increase in C which is a valid argument against link farms and link schemes.

So, now that you know how important inbound links are to your PageRank, the next question is how important is PageRank to your overall success? I’ll you refer you back to the indented quote above and repeat the key points here: “The heart of our software is PageRank” and “PageRank continues to provide the basis for all our web search tools.” According to Google, PageRank is the heart and soul of everything they do.

Q: So, how do I get more inbound links so I can raise my PR?

A: There are several approaches, but that will be the subject of my next post.

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