This post (published Nov 9, 2012) was inspired by a conversation I had with blogger Ehsan Ullah. Thanks, Ehsan!
In this post I’ll answer a ton of questions regarding building PageRank. I’ll explain what Alexa Rank is, talk about why Google built PageRank, and even offer white hat and black hat methods to use on it.
Hint: You should only use the White Hat ones!
You should also use this post to discuss Google Panda.
PageRank is the founding principle behind Google Search, and earned Stanford University just over $330 million back in 2005. So yeah, you want to know about it.
A little proof behind my methods
Before you’re going to read this, you’ll probably want some information on the title of this post.
Well, this blog is only 3 months old, tomorrow actually. You’ll just have to believe me on that.
For proof on my PR3 from only 28 backlinks go download the SEO PageRank Status Toolbar. It’s a free Google Chrome extension I use several times a day to check web statistics. Using it is really simple, just click on the bar icon and it shows you a whole assortment of stats for the webpage you’re currently on. I usually focus on PageRank and Alexa Rank.
For you die hard Internet Explorer and Firefox users that won’t get the plugin I created this screenshot of my stats after just 3 months of DearBloggering.
Now that we’ve gotten that cleared up, let’s talk business.
Why even write this post?
Why would I ever write a blog post covering my strategies on building PageRank and rising up in Google? What the heck is wrong with me? These are secrets I should write into an eBook I sell for 29.94 on Amazon. They’re that valuable!
Well, here’s what I’m thinking right now…
- Blogging should be helpful: The founding mission of Dear Blogger has always been to provide easy to understand blogging answers on things like these very topics.
- Clear the air: Hopefully I’ll answer some really common SEO related questions I get every morning in my inbox.
- Write good, get gooder: When I hit publish on this post I’ll be adding new content to my site. If it’s useful, that alone gives me a few points in Google. But if it’s really useful and you guys comment and linkback to this, then we’re really doing good stuff. Just a kind suggestion
What happened at Stanford?
Back when Sergey and Larry were building the technology behind Google Search, they realized if their search engine became anything worthwhile it would have deal with and process a LOT of documents. Like millions of new ones every day. They decided pure content wouldn’t be enough to decide which pages get ranked 1st, 2nd, 3rd…10th…101st..etc and that they need a new criteria.
So they created PageRank. It became a heirarchical system where all webpages initially begin with equal rank, then get higher ranks if more websites link back to them. Each link counts as a “vote” and that “vote” holds more weight if it’s from an authoritative hub, like CNN.com, or the Huffingtonpost.com.
A practically example of PageRank:
So if you search for “cutest cat pictures” you’ll probably get a website that a) has awesome content, and b) has lots of links pointing to it. The second point is important. You will not get some cat website that started yesterday, even if the photos are really, really, ridiculously cute.
I sort of avoided the mathy side of PageRank here. For that, check out this Google Research presentation that I shared on Facebook a few weeks back. By the way, none of my friends Liked it or commented, ha!
How PageRank affects Search results
So, you type in a search for “cutest cat pictures” and in a few tenths of a second Google returns some results for you. Note, it wasn’t always this fast and accurate. You used to have to adhere to certain “Google search methods” just to get a relevant result. (Remember that, haha?)
Google returns articles, pages, blogs, forums, anything that it finds relevant. It quickly organizes them based on relevance to YOU. This also includes past searches and other random crap Google knows you like.
What you may not realize, is that every page and post on your blog or website has it’s own PageRank. It’s not just your homepage that builds PageRank.
After you do that exercise, be sure to watch Matt Cutts from Google explain Search in this introductory video. This one is a favorite of mine:
How to Give and Get PageRank
As you get further in blogging you’ll want to build PageRank and may even want to share it. It’s pretty simple. You give someone PageRank or “Link Juice” when you link to them. You get PageRank when someone links to you. So every website I link to in this post gets a little bit of Link Juice from DearBlogger.org. But let’s look further.
The best case scenario:
I wrote a whole banger on using basic SEO principles over at ProBlogger but I’ll run through it again here. Let’s say you write a blog post on Personal Websites and it’s really helpful. It rocks. You want it to get some PageRank though.
That’s because of the anchor text I just used. Go visit that link, it actually goes to my friends Thomas Frank’s website. When you’re there, look at the permalink of his post. It has “personal website” in it. Google loves links like this, they really explain the content on both ends of the link!
Where Alexa Rank fits in
PageRank’s cute cousin is Alexa Rank. The two are very different though.
While PageRank measures a website’s relative strength and affects Search rank, Alexa is more of a traffic statistic. It shows how many people are visiting your site, and is largely becoming the definitive ranking of your website. Check out the Alexa Rank of sites like Netflix.com, Digg.com, Twitter.com, YouTube.com, and anything else you visit often and you’ll see what I mean. (for those of age this can turn into a fun drinking game!)
Ideally you want high PageRank and low Alexa Rank. There are certainly benchmarks that go along with the rankings. A PageRank of 4 is darn good, and it’s quite rare for a single person blog to rank over PR 6. An Alexa Rank of anything under 100k is great, though that takes time, and under 50k is a sweet spot where you should be able to blog for a living.
I know you’re going to disagree with that last paragraph, so tell me what YOU think in the comments. Post a quick one right now.
Manipulation, Evil, and Scum of the Earth
As blogging expanding and people wondering how to blog for money, how to make thousands online, and other goals that often cloud the purpose of this whole thing, a general manipulation of PageRank began to occur and black hat SEO was born.
If you’ve never heard this expression let me explain it to you quickly. Black hat means Google frowns upon it, and grey hat refers to borderline or questionable practice.
6 Examples of black hat
- Keyword stuffing: Repeating keywords to the point where your sentences look like gibberish.
- Unrelated keywords: Like this – Michael Jordan buys Walmart vacuum cleaners to take on exotic cruise trips.
- Bait and switch: Where you get a page to rank in Google, then switch the page content.
- Mirror websites: Duplicating content on several sites because you’re just not original.
- Comment spam: Shooting comments to blogs in the hopes of getting clicks and backlinks. Grr.
- Link farms: Building low quality websites that host lots of (perhaps paid) links.
Great hat is slightly less worse but still a bit dicey.
Examples of grey hat:
- Link circles: Tough one to explain here. See the link trio article by Glen Allsop.
- Buying links: Pretty self-explanatory. You should get these naturally because your content is original and inspiring.
And white hat is how it’s truly done.
White Hat: White hat is anything natural, awesome, and any technique that would warm Google’s heart. You know you’re using white hat when it just feels right.
How I Got Google PageRank 3 in 3 months with Only 28 Backlinks
Of course I put this at the end of the article. If you didn’t know all the information above this, this just wouldn’t make as much sense. Stop complaining, I’m sorry for making you spend another 10 minutes of your time.
It all began with my whiteboard. I bought a white board on Amazon (exact model) and the moment it arrived to my apartment I was strategizing. It was early September 2012 and I had already planned out several guest posts I’d launch (hopefully successfully) to a few prominent sites and a few I just loved.
In the bio line of each post is where you normally get someone to link back to your site. I used the strategy from my “personal website” example above to create really specific links back to different pages on my site. On a few guest posts I also linked to other posts on my blog via contextual links. See CopyBlogger for a great example of contextual linking. I made sure the anchor text was specific and included in the blog post permalinks. And of course, if you’ve been following me at all you know I landed guest posts on some major blogs.
The linking began in the guest post bios then continued on my own blog! On that white board I wrote a diagram like this:
I spread a lot of inbound links around my blog, which generated a sort of inpenetrable strength on my blog. If you watch the video above you heard about “spiders and crawlers.” When these things run through your blog they don’t like dead ends. That’s a sign of weakness. They like to bounce from post to post, from page to page, and never get lost. Again, for a really good example of this technique in action check out CopyBlogger, and look at all the red links within posts.
A fortress of strength:
The effect of that interlinking was my blog looked pretty darn strong to Google, even though it only had 12 posts. At the point I write this I think that number is 15. Whatever, it was and still is a small number. But to Google, my blog looked like a well defended castle, complete with a lively courtyard, luxurious theater, bountiful kitchen and dining hall, even a jousting arena! I bet those spiders had fun ;).
The effect of getting a lot of guest posts on the web in a relatively small amount of time really hit on the time-sensitive aspect of Google rankings. See, Google tracks trends. If you’re mentioned once or twice online it’s really no big deal and Google doesn’t blink. But if they index a new site and it’s all of a sudden getting mentioned 30-40 times a day, they’ll notice. The effect is Google may decide to index your pages more quickly.
And who says the process of building PageRank has to be a slow one?
Conclusion: Alright I think that’s enough
Alright guys, I think that’s enough on SEO for one evening. Make sure to come early to class tomorrow and bring your calculators. The test will cover linking strategies, the history of PageRank, and the evolution of Matt Cutts’ hair styles.
Haha, I’m not a teacher, maybe someday. I really hoped this helped explain how to build a good, strong PageRank with limited resources in a small amount of time. You can absolutely replicate these effects if you plan well enough. I’d seriously recommend getting a whiteboard too.
Make sure to drop a comment if you have something to say.