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Budding search engine optimisers believe that getting a high Google PageRank solves all their organic SEPR problems. Forums, and blogs are rife with the the question, when is the next PageRank update? Although PageRank is something all webmasters should be aware of this article aims to put PageRank and its update into perspective.

PageRank is a numerical value between zero and ten that Google place on each web page. The number equates to how important Google views that particular page, zero being of no importance at all and ten being the highest possible importance. PageRank for any web page can be accessed through various websites and perhaps most commonly through the Google toolbar. PageRank is important but here are some points to bear in mind:

We see different PageRank data to Google

We see an update to Google PageRank approximately every three months. The most common misconception is that Google always sees the same PageRank data that we do –- it doesn’t! Google does this periodic export so we get an idea of how websites are performing; Google is constantly updating its PageRank. Any good blogger will know that if they write a good post you can see it achieve top rankings within 48 hours. If Google waited three months to apply importance on new web pages we would never see fresh content returned in our search results.

Remember it’s PageRank, not SiteRank

Another fallacy is that PageRank is site-wide. For example, if your home page has a PageRank of five then so do all your other pages. It’s incredible how many people are under this illusion considering the names of the technology: PageRank. A lot of webmasters spend time building links to their home page to get a higher PageRank, which is a good idea, but sometimes they tend to neglect other pages (sometime those with their best content on).

Context. Context. Context.

Google places huge importance of the context and the relevancy of searches. It’s easy to see the evidence of this; sites with PageRank of nine and ten like BBC, Yahoo and Blogger do not appear in every search we carry out as they would do if Google solely used PageRank as criteria for web page import. So before you start beating yourself up for not having a PageRank of ten look at the keywords on your website. A page with a rank of two will always beat one with a PageRank of ten if it is more relevant.

Quality not quantity

Links from other sites to your web pages are the main contributing factor to PageRank. Each link is like a vote for your web page but not everyone’s vote is the same. The more popular a web page (i.e. higher PageRank) the more importance is placed on your web page. And again context is important, build links that are relevant to your site. Such techniques will update your PageRank much quicker than you think, Google can see the update even though you can’t.

You may read this article and ask, is there any way at all I can check my progress? There is: visit Google Rankings. Here you can enter keywords and a URL, the website then checks with Google and tells you where you appear for a particular search (if at all). This is much more reliable than a PageRank lookup as it looks at where Google places your web page there and then!

Although PageRank is important we shouldn’t agonise over when the next update is. It’s a useful benchmark to see how our site is progressing but we can spend our time doing much more useful things to get our web pages to appear in Google.

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Tim Bennett is a Leeds-based web designer from Yorkshire. He has a First Class Honours degree in Computing from Leeds Metropolitan University and currently runs his own one-man web design company, Texelate.