My Pagerank Study

I did some research back in July 2013 to confirm something that most Search Engine Optimisers are aware of but fail to really understand the implications of it. That adding large amounts of unique content to your website is a safe and very efficient way to greatly increase your website’s Pagerank and therefore your google ranking.

Pagerank is a very important factor when it comes to ranking your website highly in Google. The more links you have to your website the better. However there is another much safer way to build your Pagerank without risking ever getting in trouble for greyhat or blackhat link building strategies. It is also less likely you will be caught out by Google algorithm updates.

Every page on the internet starts off with a certain amount of Pagerank. That’s where it all comes from in the first place. Let’s call this starting Pagerank 1 pagerank-point (not the same as having a Pagerank of 1, it is about 1/8 of this). So every time you add a page to your website such as a blog post or piece of news that page increases the total amount of Pagerank on your website. Typically each new page will contain links in the navigation / menu and the site footer to other pages on the site including the home page. This means Pagerank from your newly created blog post is passed on via these links.

Due to the Pagerank of your new page being passed around your website you end up getting something like 6 pagerank-points instead of 1.

[Some techie bits: Google applies something called a dampening factor each time the pagerank-points are passed along to another page otherwise you would end up with infinite Pagerank. These 6 pagerank-points are up to 30 times more than you would get from a low value link like posting a link to your site to a free directory listing site. These low value links tend to be hosted on pages with lots of other links so not much of the page’s starting pagerank-point goes to your site.]

To test that lots of content does indeed increase your Pagerank I did a search on Google for a competitive legal term and recorded:
1) the Pagerank of the home page; and
2) the total number of pages on the site.

I did this for all 80 sites on the spreadsheet. An important distinction is that it is actually the number of pages indexed by Google that counts. If Google hasn’t picked up on some of your pages then they won’t count towards your total.

Then I devised a formula. The formula checked that the Pagerank of the home page was at least equal to what I would expect based on the total number of pages for that site. Roughly speaking this is what I expected:

Total Number Of Pages On Site | Minimum Expected Page Rank Of Home Page
1 0
8 1
64 2
512 3
4096 4
32768 5
262144 6
2097152 7
6777216 8
134217728 9

This does depend on how the Pagerank is distributed around the site so bar any sites that have an excessive number of links within it’s menus this should apply. The Pagerank of the home page can be higher than this minimum due to external links pointing at the site but based on what we have discussed it should never be lower.

I checked it against my spreadsheet and the Pagerank of the home page was equal to or higher than the minimum expected Pagerank for 75 of the 80 websites. Good result!

The 5 sites that broke the rule all had clear issues affecting their page rank. Three of them had over 100 links as part of the navigation that appeared on every page of the site causing the Pagerank to be spread out very thinly. One had a sort of portal as the home page where you chose what language you wanted, this interfered with the distribution of Pagerank. The remaining one had a duplicate of the entire site as a sub-domain which caused duplicate content issues, it looked like it had been set up by the web developers and accidentally indexed by Google.

So to summarise, bar any obvious mistakes effecting the distribution of Pagerank on your site you can greatly increase your Pagerank to the minimums listed in my table by having the required amount of unique pages on your site. Each unique page should have ideally 500 words of unique content but 300 words may do depending on the structure of your site.

One important thing to be aware of is that the quality of the content is not important when you are only looking at the Pagerank benefit. As long as it isn’t so bad that Google thinks it is a spun article (computer generated / reworded article that makes no sense).

When a client ask me if they should add lots of content to their site I say no! “Lots of content” to a client is writing a good article maybe once a week. In a mildly competitive field such as competitor’s with an average Pagerank of 3 it is going to take 512 blog posts. At one article a week that would take 10 years. “Lots of content” from an SEO perspective means paying a team of people to constantly churn out articles. Client’s rarely have the time to produce enough content to make a difference and they put way too much emphasis on quality.

The advantages of this strategy are:
– it is in accordance with Google guidelines as long as the quality of the content isn’t too bad. So you are unlikely to ever be negatively effected by any updates or penalisation;
– external links can become dated, deleted, get pushed to the back of a website, or eventually the external site may be shut down so you. You don’t have to worry about this with this strategy;
– with link building you are limited to the number of relevant sites that are willing to link to your site but there isn’t the same limit on the amount of content you can add to your own website.

The disadvantage is the trade off between volume of content and the quality. However the articles can be tucked away somewhere under a blog section.

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