Creating Inbound Links Is About More Than Just PageRank


Is Google PageRank (PR) the be-all, end-all of the internet marketing equation?

I have wanted to discuss this topic for quite a long time. But, there is risk in discussing this topic. It is a lot like religion and politics. We are advised not to discuss religion or politics in mixed company, because people are willing to argue and sometimes kill, based solely on your disagreement with their religious or political beliefs.

In a lot of ways, Google PR is a matter of religion to some internet marketers. And for me to discuss this topic openly is tantamount to telling someone that his or her religion is false religion.

Many of my competitor's who read this article will run to their soapbox as soon as I am done, and they will pronounce to the heavens that I am an idiot.

I will let you be your own judge.

How I Draw My Conclusions

I own one website that has so far served more than 100,000 unique visitors in the first nine months of 2006. The same site has served well over one million page views, since the beginning of 2006. I often use the statistics from this website to measure trends in the marketplace, since the unique visitors and page views are of a substantial level.

The Importance of Google In The Internet Marketplace

Just because I am questioning the value of Google's PR in the grand scheme of things, it does not mean I am questioning the domination of Google in the marketplace.

The statistics on the previously mentioned website prove the dominance of Google against their competitors. Here is how my search engine referrals break down:

  • 37 Search Engines have sent me traffic.
  • 78.1% of visitors were sent from Google.
  • 18.4% came from Yahoo, Ask Jeeves/Ask, MSN
  • 1.5% arrived from AOL, Dogpile, Netscape, Earthlink, Altavista, Alexa.
  • 98.0% of all search engine referral traffic arrived from the Top Ten Referring Search Engines.

So hands down, Google is the MOST important element for my search engine marketing.

The Concept of Google PR

Google has often said that their PR system is an integral part of their search algorithms.

According to Google's own documentation, this is the definition of PR is as follows:

"PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves 'important' weigh more heavily and help to make other pages 'important.' "

Since PR utilizes a count of the number of links pointing to a website as a measure of PR value, professional internet marketers are very interested in acquiring large numbers of inbound links for their websites.

PageRank values also allow you to decide whom you might want to do a link exchange (if you do such things).

The Pros and Cons of Buying PR

Professional internet marketers are also interested in getting links on pages with an already large PR.

With Google's definition of PR, this makes sense.

PROS:

  • When you buy links on pages that already have a significant PR, then you can gain that value with much less work involved.
  • You can bulk up your own PR in very short order.

CONS:

  • Most sites that sell links on their high PR pages only do so on a monthly or quarterly basis, so this expense will be an ongoing for as long as you want to hold onto that value.
  • Depending on the PR of the page where the link is being sold, the cost can be very high. Many webmasters decide how much they will charge for advertising on their website, according to the PR assigned to their website.
  • The powers-that-be at Google warns us away from buying text links to increase our own PR. They warn us by example, pointing to the SearchKing devaluation in Google, as the result of SearchKing's paid linking scheme: http://news.com.com/Judge+dismisses+suit+against+Google/2100-1032_3-1011740.html
  • The Google power broker Matt Cutts stated matter-of-factly that we should not "participate in link schemes designed to increase (our) site's ranking or PR," as stated in the Google quality guidelines. He went on to say that Google "does consider buying text links for PR purposes to be outside our Google's quality guidelines." Read the full story in context here: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/text-links-and-PR/

If you continue reading the comments on Matt's blog about the text links and PR, take a moment to search out the comment on the subject from Dan Thies (http://www.seoresearchlabs.com/). Dan asked Matt at the end of his post to define the "algorithm for determining intent" of the person placing the link. Bravo Dan.

Google Toolbar Role In PR Monitoring

Just like any discussion of paid links and PR, people tend to get fired up.

Just the other day, I read a different thread on Google PR. In that thread at http://forums.Site-Reference.com, someone said that the importance of the Google Toolbar was the visible PR that shows up in the toolbar.

(PR value is only exported to the Toolbar at regular intervals. According to the "Page Rank Update and Export List History" page, the PR information was last exported to the Google Toolbar on September 28, 2006: http://www.seocompany.ca/PR/page-rank-update-list.html)

The poster I mentioned above had stated that the importance of the Google Toolbar was the visible PR that buyers use to observe the trust factor attached to a website. He said that when people view the PR, then they would be assured that the company from whom they are about to purchase from is a reputable company.

I had to disagree.

The only people who have the Google Toolbar installed in their machine are online marketers. Perhaps that is a wide paintbrush, but it is not very far from the truth.

Because most people who use the Toolbar are online marketers, then they will be the only people for whom the little green PR bar has any meaning.

The Real Importance of Google's PR

How many times have you heard that the value your website holds with the Google PR system will make or break your website's ability to gain traffic from Google?

How many of you actually believe that?

Here is where I am going to get people excited.

I launched a site with zero PR in the first week of September. Within four days, I had page one placement in Google. Let me repeat that for you. Within four days of a website's launch, I had a website with PR 0, no official backlinks according to Google, and page one search results in Google!

Okay, I admit... It was a memorial website: http://www.GoodbyeSteveIrwin.com

I have several search keyword phrases in Google that produce page one, two and three results. Right now, the search phrase "irwin nature conservation" brings up my memorial site as the #3 result.

You might tell yourself that I was able to do this because it arrived at a time when Steve Irwin was the only new story. But, I have created results like this with several websites. The Steve Irwin site was not a fluke. The Steve Irwin site was simply the fifth site that I was able to reach page one of Google search results within two weeks of site launch, with zero backlinks according to Google, and zero PR.

So, let me ask you again how important the Google PR system is for guaranteeing the placement of your website on page one of Google's search results?

You be the judge.

Traffic Links Vs. PR Links

Previously I mentioned my website that I use to measure trends in search engine marketing. Here is another interesting bit of data that I pulled from my website statistics for that domain:

  • 53% inbound traffic comes from search engines
  • 47% inbound traffic comes from links on third-party websites (not from search engines)
  • Both values exclude people who visited my site as a result of bookmarks for my site or clicks directly from an email

If you break down the numbers even further, you will find the Google powerhouse is responsible for 41.4% of my gross inbound traffic from another website. And my website receives 47% of its traffic from websites that are not search engines.

Wow! My website is getting considerably more traffic from links on websites that are not search engines, than what it is getting from Google! Interesting.

Perhaps now you understand why I have always focused on getting permanent links on third-party websites that will send me traffic for years to come.

How Many Links Are Traffic Links?

This traffic arrived at my site from a total of 12,876 external webpages. If you ask the search engines how many links I have to my website on external pages, they will NOT show you a number of links anywhere near this number. In fact, MSN shows the largest number of inbound links to my website. And MSN only shows that I have 2,164 links pointing to my website. That is a number that is six times lower than the number of external webpages that actually send me human visitors!

You would be surprised how many PR 0, 1 and 2 pages are actually sending me real traffic. Real traffic converts into real sales. And I am getting more traffic from these nowhere links, than what I am getting from the Holy Grail of Google.

In Conclusion...

Let me repeat the question that I opened this article with, "Is Google PageRank the be-all, end-all of internet marketing?"

I offer a resounding, "No!"

Is Google PageRank the Holy Grail of internet marketing?

"No."

Do you need to put your links on pages that have high PR?

"No."

I feel good that Google says that my PR is a Five. It makes me feel that I am gaining ground in the Google algorithms. And it boosts my human ego. But, for every keyword phrase that really matters to my business, I am already on page one of the search results, with a measly PR of 5, and no real backlinks to speak of according to the brilliance of the Google algorithms.

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