Beyond PageRank; peeling SEO onions

by David Harry April 23rd, 2008 

Warning! Reality Check in progress..you will be returned to regular programming shortly.

Ok, so you say you know what PageRank is and how it applies to search optimization, but do you really? One thing is for certain. A great many SEO's, site owners and webmasters dont seem to truly grasp the conceptso lets take a look shall we?

Hi there kiddies, Dave here (aka theGypsy) as the fine folks at Search Engine People have kindly asked to pinch hit this week, hopefully I can keep you edu-tained ;0)

Some PageRank realities

I was originally going to, even began to, write about personalized search and user performance signals when I was pointed to a post by a fellow SEO that I have always admired (beyond my love of cynical rants) by the name of Brian Turner titled; Google WAS a links driven search engine

His post is very important because his timeline and analysis shows not only the rocky road but the evolution of our love/hate relationship with PageRank/links as well. It highlights the inability of many optimizers to change with the search engines. There are many that were slow to adopt link building and now slow to evolve past it. Oh my poor sweet PageRank, why oh why does know one understand you? What is it about understanding such a simple but relevant concept that blinds people so? why oh why these myths must die! ( Dr Sues does SEO?)

Heres a starter for you;

PageRank = internal link based PageRank as per original concepts (or related Patents) – that only the engineering enigmas at Google know

ToolBar PageRank = that friggen stupid little green bar that sits on your browser, is oft updated and know to be manually/algorithmically altered from its internal brethren

This may seem like stating the obvious, but I assure you it is not. One merely needs to venture to any small business or SEO forum to find that people interchange the 2 and webmasters, SEO enthusiasts and business owners alike believe the two synonymous. It would take no time at all to find people saying things such as,

PR has nothing to do with rankings ignore it

or

I want to get a PR5 on my site

Beyond PageRank, the land of Onions

Let us now understand that the TBPR is not exactly a metric one should be overly concerned with while PR is a concept all SEO enthusiasts should understand. We all know the value in links and it is certainly no secret that the PageRank algorithm is a mighty judge for valuating them. The other reality we must accept is that we can never truly know the actual PageRank for a given web page. So be it.

This is where Brian seems to bring to light the real problem " the evolution of SEOs. As a lover of technical search goodies, the never ending hunt for relevance and scalability seems obvious. What doesnt seem to have evolved are the masses of those providing the advice/services in the SEO world. PageRank is but one part of the greater whole; the core of the onion. Unto this there are many layers applied in the form of new algorithms, thresholds and methods to compliment the system.

Some examples of such layers are;

Temporal Factors
User performance data
Hosted Bookmarks

Personalized Search
Domain data
Personalized PageRank and Harmonic Rank (much like TrustRank)
Filters (such as Duplicate content)
Phrase Based IR
Social Signals

to name a few….

And if that doesnt pound home the ideajust look at whats been published this year alone in Search Patents. No lack of new potential areas for the fastidious search optimizer to ponder. It is paramount to not only understand the core, but the layers of the onion as well. There is no shortage of people blogging about how 'PR sucks' or how 'link based algorithms are outdated' but you see my friends… it is often the SEO in question that is outdated. As search engines evolve, so must the optimizer…. it is the natural order of things, oui?

The demise of the obsessed optimizer

So my friendly page placement minions, PageRank is alive and well, simply not the over-bearing behemoth that it once was. If your SEO is still overly focussed on back links you are fighting upstream against the flow of those in the know. You see, the more you leverage the other ranking signals in your work, the less dependent you will find yourself on the mighty link. Link building is often one of the more tedious, expensive, exasperating and time consuming areas of a SEO program, working the layers will help ultimately optimize campaign budgets and save your sanity.

While PageRank is certainly an area to be understood, (in its true light) there is far more to this puzzle and those obsessed with algorithms that are 10+ years old may be in for a surprise real soon.

If youre valuating links based on TBPR??? Shame on you. If your link obsessed, seek help Should you already know all of this? WHOO HAAA go forth and spread the word PageRank is what it is and nothing more; stop the addiction!

/end rant

I want to thank Jeff, Ruud and the rest of the gang for letting me drop by. Ranting is always cathartic (I can see the invoice now :0). Maybe I will come back soon to write the original post I startedlol its all Brians fault.

Your friendly neighbourhood Fire Horse – Dave

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6 Responses to “Beyond PageRank; peeling SEO onions”

  1. Blog seo says:

    The page rank only works for link- exchange…

  2. Icheb says:

    TBPR is simply a different representation of PR and PR simply represents the likelihood someone might arrive on your website, making it a measure of how many links point to your website.

    YES, you STILL need links and NO, being obsessed with links is NOT a bad thing.
    Pointing a link from your mortgage loan website to your Britney Spears fansite will increase your PR ever so slighty, however it won't help your fansite rank better AT ALL.

    So, this means that YOU = FAIL.

  3. Dave says:

    Unfortunately the TBPR won't really tell you much that is trustable. An example;

    Website gets tanked for an infraction – TBPR though, may not reflect this for months until it is updated.

    Beyond that we know there is a penchant for adjusting TBPR scoring manually which doesn't necesarily mean the page strength/rankings have dropped…. TBPR is simply not a reliable metric.

    ..but that's neither here nor there.

    The main point is more about the fixation with PR/Links by many in the SEO world…Certainly they are important, but often the obsession blinds peeps from the myriad of other rankings signals used in search engines these days…

    People keep saying Google sucks because of it's link centric algo, when in reality there are many other layers (methods and signals) within the ranking processes… myopic really.. So who is really addicted to links? Google? or the SEOs?

  4. Time to get a link from a Gypsy! Maybe I'll catch a Red hair Green eyes Rubya!

    Carpe Diem

  5. [...] example, many SEO experts talk about the need for link bait, link ninjas, PageRank, branding, no follow tags, paid links, on page optimization, title tags, social media, widgets, [...]

  6. virility says:

    thanks for the information did not really understand pagerank before now i have a little better understanding