Google PageRank, Not Just About Links

Check out my new guide for starting a blog to learn how to go about properly creating your own blog.

Well after a brief hiatus from the blogging tips, this series started back up last week. I guess I hadn’t even planned it since I ended up double posting that day.

So I’m back posting another blogging tip this week and I’m pretty sure I don’t have anything else scheduled today. Maybe I’ll even keep this series going into the new year.

If this post helps you or you think other bloggers might benefit, it would be appreciated if you could link to this post or share it on social media. A big part of the blogging community revolves around helping each other.

Check out some of the previous posts from this series:

This week I’ve got a post especially for anyone who has been watching their Google PageRank but has been struggling to make any headway.

Google PageRank Is About More Than Just Backlinks

Earlier this month Google PageRank updated their toolbar PageRank as they do every 3 months…or really whenever they feel like doing it. Then every stat-obsessed webmaster or blogger rejoices as their PR improves or swears at their computer as their PR doesn’t increase.

In the past it used to be just simply a matter of getting enough backlinks from PR3+ pages. It didn’t matter how bad your site was. The toolbar PR was nothing more than a measure of how good your backlink profile was.

I admit I haven’t been paying much attention to PageRank in the last couple years, but at some point the PageRank algorithm shifted to judge more than just a website’s backlinks. A website could keep building more and more links without seeing their PageRank improve.

What I Noticed About Google PageRank

When PR updated this month a good blogger friend of mine was completely stumped about why his PR was stuck. While his peers were seeing their PR improve, he had been at the same PR for 3 updates.

Knowing how much marketing he did, I thought it was a little strange that he still hadn’t improved. I tried to justify it with theories about timing of building links or simply not enough high PR links. It still didn’t seem to make sense though, especially seeing other blogs leapfrog him.

So I happened to dig into the quality of his html code and other onpage problems such as broken links. First I checked the W3C validation of his blog to see if there were any validation errors. There were quite a few errors, which I began suspecting may be preventing the Google bot from properly crawling his blog.

Then I checked his blog for broken links using Xenu. There were a number of broken links, including a large number produced by a banner rotation plugin he was using.

The real confirmation came when he checked his Google Webmaster Tools account and found that Google was crawling very few of his pages each day. Clearly there was some onpage issue that the Google bot didn’t like.

Since this went against what I had previously known about PR I was quite intrigued. Next I checked some other blogs that were stuck below PR3. Not surprisingly they pretty much all had validation errors. I’m sure that if I had checked their blog for broken links, it would find a bunch.

So now it seems that Google takes into consideration onpage issues when calculating PageRank. That or their PageRank bot is particularly sensitive to pages with faulty html code.

What To Do If Your PageRank Is Stuck

If you are sitting at PR4 or PR5 and aren’t making headway with improving your PageRank, you shouldn’t worry. At those levels it takes a ton of new links to progress.

If you are below PR3 and not making progress, it could very well signal that you have onpage issues that need to be cleaned up. Download Xenu and try checking your blog for W3C validation errors.

The tricky part is actually fixing those problems. The broken links are easy enough since they are either in actual posts or in comments. You can search either of those sections in your wordpress dashboard. You might have to remove the http:// from your searches though.

The W3C validation errors aren’t so easy. If you’re technically savvy, you could dig through your various blog template files and hack your way through fixing those issues. Personally I can’t always fix all of those problems myself when I attempt that. I often resort to hiring a cheap programmer to lend a hand. There are various forums and freelance boards that could be used to find help.

Why You Should Care About Google Toolbar PageRank

There are many people in the online world who insist that the toolbar PageRank doesn’t matter. Ironically that is often because they can’t make any progress themselves.

The reason it’s so important is because it is a direct sign that you are doing things right in Google’s eyes. They have a separate hidden PageRank score that is constantly updating, but it is believed to be partly based on some of the same factors. So if you want Google search traffic, do what you can to make them happy.

Then there is the monetization side of things. Many advertisers specifically advertise on sites based on their PageRank. The higher your PageRank, the more you can charge those advertisers for ads. Those advertisers are usually buying those links to help their own search rankings. Beware that such ads are frowned upon by Google and can get you in trouble with Google if you get caught. Many bloggers do take that risk though.

An indirect benefit is that there are some web directories or blogger lists that are sorted by PageRank. The higher your PageRank, the better the link you get from those sites. This in turn helps your search engine rankings more.

What are your thoughts on Google PageRank? Is it important to you? Do you think you might be stuck due to onpage issues? If you need some guidance there, feel free to reach out to me and I can point you in the right direction.