Prepare for the holiday season in advance with this comprehensive guide.
- PageRank is still in use, and here’s a closer look at how Google’s Reasonable Surfer Model contributes significantly.
- A well-thought-out linking strategy for your ecommerce site, both internally and externally, can significantly increase search visibility.
- Susan Dolan, a Google expert, and Daniel Cartland, the Head of SEO at NOVOS, will guide you through the holiday season.
PageRank is a Google patent that utilizes links to assist in determining a website’s ranking in the SERPs. The algorithm is named after Larry Page, the founder of Google.
The initial patent was not renewed and has since been superseded by other algorithms that accomplish the same task. However, by grasping the fundamentals, we can gain a better understanding of how to position our ecommerce sites to maximize traffic and revenue.
PageRank fundamental concepts
PageRank is distributed via links between websites and can be distributed within a single website via internal links.
Certain pages have a higher PageRank than others, and thus can pass on a greater amount of PageRank to the pages to which they link. A dampening factor is applied when one page links to another. The original patent set this as 0.85 – so a page with a PageRank of one, linking to another page would pass 0.85 PageRank.
Significant revision: the Reasonable Surfer Model
According to Google’s Reasonable Surfer Model, a more likely-to-be-clicked-on link will pass more PageRank than a less likely-to-be-clicked-on link. This is determined by a variety of variables, such as font size, color, and anchor text. However, as SEOs, we frequently have control over the position of a link on a page and can thus leverage it.
This is a simple, rather crude illustration of how certain links will pass more or less PageRank depending on their prominence and likelihood of being clicked.
Create external links to key pages.
Given that linking pages pass PageRank, it makes sense to generate backlinks to key pages that we wish to rank. For the majority of ecommerce sites, the category pages rank for the highest volume and most revenue-generating keywords.
Wherever possible, we should seek to employ tactics that facilitate link building through to the revenue-generating pages, which for the majority of sites look something like this:
- Pages de catégorie
- Pages dedicated to specific products
- Homepage Recent blog entries
Obviously, this is easier said than done. Using these tactics with the overarching goal of increasing PageRank for your most important pages. This mitigates the dampening effects.
How to overcome this
One common technique for circumventing this difficulty of building links to category pages is to internally link to the key category pages we want to promote via blog posts/Digital PR pieces that generate links.
Although the PageRank passed to the page we wish to rank will be reduced, this is still preferable to receiving no links at all to our target page.
It is worth considering how relevant the category page is to the blog/PR piece it is being included on, as well as where the links are placed on the page, being mindful of the impact the Reasonable Surfer dampening effect can have.
Amass links from high-ranking pages
As any digital public relations professional is aware, high authority pages or pages with a lot of PageRank to pass on to your own site are some of the most desired links to acquire.
Typically, this is viewed at the domain level, but as demonstrated in Majestic’s excellent review of how PageRank works, a domain that should theoretically have a high PageRank can actually have a significantly lower PageRank at the page level due to its own internal linking.
One caveat for digital public relations teams is to avoid becoming overly reliant on domain-level metrics as a proxy for links that pass a high amount of PageRank and are thus beneficial for ranking. It is nearly impossible to determine which pages have a high PageRank, and while excessive reliance on third-party tools is never optimal, they may be the closest we can get to determining the PageRank passed by a specific page, rather than a domain.
Collect backlinks from relevant websites
As part of the Reasonable Surfer Model, it implies that links that are unrelated to the document are less likely to be followed:
“This reasonable surfer model reflects the fact that not all of a document’s links are equally likely to be followed. Among the links that are unlikely to be followed are “Terms of Service” links, banner advertisements, and links unrelated to the document.” (Source)
As a result, building links from sites that are more relevant to your own is likely to pass more PageRank to your site.
Keep in mind that it is not solely about the number of links
Due to the way PageRank is calculated, the PageRank value passed by a single site can be significantly greater than the PageRank value passed by 1000s of other sites combined.
This is why relying solely on the total number of links can be deceptive.