Ever wondered why your website is not on the top Google results page for your prized keywords? The answer lies in website popularity.
Top Positioning and the Google Algorithm
Google gauges website and webpage popularity, also called authority, by links from other websites. PageRank is Google’s evaluation of the popularity of a webpage. Webpage positioning for a keyword in Google’s search engine results pages is determined by the Google algorithm: Popularity carries greater weight than content.
PageRank and Keyword Difficulty
A newly indexed webpage has PageRank 0 and the most popular webpages have PageRank 10. PageRank is on a logarithmic scale. A webpage on a website with high popularity will be positioned above a webpage on a lower popularity website, everything else being equal.
Many top positioned webpages for desirable keywords have PageRank 0 and this leads most web professionals to question the value of PageRank. Others believe that PageRank is the top factor in the Google algorithm and it provides the best indication of keyword difficulty. Keyword difficulty is an indication of the competitive strength of the top webpages for that keyword.
Several keyword difficulty tools incorporate webpage PageRank to evaluate competition. In one eBook, the PageRanks of the top 10 webpages on Google for the keyword ‘Soundbar Reviews’ were:
8+4+2+0+1+1+1+9+5+8 = 39/10 = 3.9 average.
This example would support those who question the value of PageRank.
The current HomePage PageRanks for the top webpages for ‘Soundbar Reviews’ are:
6+4+4+7+6+6+5+8+4+5 = 5.5 average.
HomePage PageRank seems to be a better indicator of keyword difficulty than the PageRank of the page. Google tells us that PageRank of websites as well as PageRank of webpages are important. The PageRank of a website may mean all the incoming PageRank link juice to the website. We have no way to measure this but HomePage PageRank acts as a useful indication.
The majority of top performing webpages are on websites with PageRank of at least 4 (64% in a series of nearly 50,000). This is compelling evidence that HomePage PageRank is a major player in the Google algorithm.
The current HomePage PageRanks for the top 10 webpages on Google.co.uk for ‘Windsor website designer’ are:
3*+3+4+4+5*+0*+1*+2+0*+5* average = 2.7
(Starred numbers indicate that these webpages are HomePages).
The three webpages with HomePage PageRanks 0, and 1 are HomePages. Thousands of keyword analyses demonstrate that Google must be giving a boost to the effective HomePage PageRank when HomePages are competing for keywords. This works like a golf handicap system designed to level the playing field. It means small business websites have a chance to successfully compete against locality and professional directory websites that have higher popularity. The majority of top positioned webpages on websites with low HomePage PageRanks are HomePages. For SEO purposes, only the HomePage receives this boost.
Every search engine optimizer believes he knows a lot about the algorithm but the truth is that only Google holds the key. We must individually look at the evidence and come to our own conclusions.
Associated HomePage PageRank
Extensive analyses shows HomePages with PageRank less than 5, are boosted to an effective PageRank of 4.5 when they are competing for a keyword. In the analysis of 50,000 top webpages for 5,000 keywords, this boost came into play for 30% of top webpages. With this adjustment boost, the effective HomePage PageRanks for the top 10 webpages for ‘Windsor website designer’ becomes:
4.5+3+4+4+5+4.5+4.5+5+4.5+5 average = 4.4.
There are at least 200 factors in the Google algorithm. HomePage PageRank has the greatest influence particularly if one accepts the ‘boost theory.’ Analyzing keyword difficulty using PageRank analysis of the webpages and corresponding HomePages on Google’s top results page for a keyword is simple to do. The only way that you can convince yourself one way or the other is to put it to the
Webpage PageRank and the Google Algorithm
A problem arises when several top webpages for a keyword are HomePages. Their adjusted average HomePage PageRanks will all be around 4.5. If we look at the examples of ‘Windsor website designer’, ‘Manchester website designer’ and ‘London website designer’ their respective average adjusted HomePage PageRanks are 4.4, 4.6 and 4.8.
The HomePage of a new website would be boosted to an effective HomePage PageRank of 4.5 for the keywords it targets. It is tempting to assume that if a new website was to compete for ‘London website designer’ with its HomePage, top page positioning could be quickly achieved.
* For ‘Windsor website designer’ the average PageRank of the webpages on the top Google results page is 2.4 and two HomePages have PageRank 0.
* The average PageRanks for ‘Manchester website designer’ is 3.9 and the lowest PageRank of the top webpages is 3.
* For ‘London website designer’ it is 4.1 with a lowest PageRank of 2.
It becomes apparent that your HomePage needs popularity in the order of PageRank 3 or 4 to successfully compete for ‘London website designer’ and this will take time.
Clearly PageRank of webpages is a factor in the Google algorithm although it is not quite as powerful as HomePage PageRank. Full analysis of webpage and associated HomePage PageRanks of the webpages on the top Google results page (SERP) for your keywords shows you the popularity of your main competitors websites and webpages.
* HomePage PageRank is the top factor in the Google algorithm.
* Google boosts the effective PageRank of HomePages of low authority websites to 4.5 when they are competing for keywords.
* Averaged HomePage PageRanks, including the boost, of the webpages on the top Google results page for a keyword is the top indicator of keyword difficulty.
* PageRank of webpages remains an important factor in the Google algorithm.
* Averaged PageRanks of the webpages on the top Google results page is a secondary indicator of keyword difficulty.
Search engine optimization aims to maximize targeted visitors to a website. There are many programs and optimizers who promise that with their guidance you can reach the top on Google for any keyword you choose.
The fact is that if your competition for a keyword has high popularity as indicated by webpage and HomePage PageRanks, and you have a website that has low popularity, you cannot succeed.
If you target niche keywords that are in range for your website, you will gradually increase the popularity of your websites and ever more desirable keywords can be successfully targeted. Start small and build gradually.
About the author: David Viniker MD FRCOG has 30 years experience with computer applications for medical education and he has applied the principles of evidence based practice to SEO: He is a doctor trained to practice evidence based medicine. David has published compelling and easily verifiable evidence that HomePage PageRank is the top factor in the Google positioning algorithm and that Google provides a boosting adjustment to HomePages that are competing for a keyword. He has developed a new, essential keyword technique and corresponding tool – http://www.KeywordSEOPro.com which calculates keyword difficulty based on HomePage PageRank.
Danny Dover, who was the lead SEO at SEOmoz.org, in his book “Search Engine Optimization Secrets” explains the difficulty in producing a program that automatically obtains PageRank information.