Despite the numerous arguments from the “SEO mob rule” about whether or not PageRank (a link analysis metric created by Google founder Larry Page that determines the citation/inbound link value of a page) still matters for SEO; PageRank serves as a vital barometer for search engine spiders determining metrics such as crawl-depth and crawl frequency as well as how they assess the prominent page hierarchy within a site.
By understanding its function (to score the quality of citation and authority) is to wield its might strategically for your own design.While many argue if PageRank has value for producing rankings directly, I suggest you consider it one of many metrics, but its significance is elusive unless you can completely embrace its subtlety.
The fact is, the way Google treats pages with PageRank has a distinct advantage for Search Engine Optimization; pages with PageRank get crawled faster and more frequently than pages with none. As your website grows, you need more horsepower to break each page away from the norm and make it keyword specific in focus, yet distinguished enough from other pages that it can pull its own weight.
What does this mean to you? It means that you should map the link flow of PageRank to flow throughout your website proportionate to pool of link-equity required to augment more competitive keyword queries.
This means, the further away from the root folder a page is, the less link flow it receives and the more inbound links it will require in order to gain expression (depending on the competition and keyword you are attempting to rank for). Crawl depth and frequency are required for scaling a website.
Mapping Link Flow for Higher Search Engine Rankings
When considering your website is only as strong as it’s weakest page, leveling the playing field often means (a) editing aged pages (b) adding internal links to new pages ( c) creating fresh deep links (links from other websites to pages other than your homepage) to critical areas or (d) new / strategic content creation to augment your websites relevance score as a collective ranking signal.
Would you rather have one page with PageRank, trust and the ability to rank and defend itself in the SERPs (search engine result pages) or would you rather have hundreds or thousands of strong pages replete with its own self-sustaining dynamic link-flow that spills-over to feed other equally critical pages in your website architecture?
Once a page reaches a threshold, that page becomes a beacon, capable of ranking for multiple variations of (a) the content on the page (b) the anchor text linked to the page (c) anything in between based on the connectivity of the semantic framework.
You have to consider the simultaneous layers of algorithms running concurrently which collate ranking signals and determine which definitions and similarities carry significance and calculate what search engine’s score as part of their eigenvector and fuzzy set relationships in the co-occurrence matrix.
In other words the topical nodes of your website and the hierarchy produced by indexation, site structure and internal links all create a hierarchy (an army of pages) to conquer multiple keywords, competitors and the search engine result pages.
The point I am making here is, PageRank plays a role in discovery and sustainability and defense in maintaining a SERP position through the value of citation. We know that when a page is augmented by strong internal or external inbound links, it gains buoyancy commensurate to the trust, relevance and strength (PR) of the page offering the link.
Whether or not that page is internal (within the site) or from another website makes no difference – hence, leveraging your own website to augment rankings is completely under your control once you stop wasting PageRank and link-flow on irrelevant links.
This is where the mapping comes in. First you need a tool capable of seeing as a search engines sees, you can either use SEOEngine.com or MajesticSEO.com to peel back a layer of critical search engine metrics.
SEOEngine allows you to see (1) if any penalties exist (2) if the link-flow within your website is optimal (3) if penalties exist from duplicate shingles (duplicate content) page level, meta level or market focus inconsistencies.
Majestic SEO allows you to (1) find the strongest pages in your website and (2) the strongest links to those pages. I tend to use AC Rank as the metric to summarize on page or domain strength. A page with an AC rank of 7 or more is a category in disguise or a page that can rank several pages if linked and / or cultivated with purpose.
Combined with a few simple SEO strategies, you can quickly determine which pages represent the most lucrative pages to reshape with an on site audit to cap inbound or outbound links and refine your websites internal link dynamo. I recently covered a few tactics you can use in a recent post on SEO navigation tips. It covers one type of link sculpting through navigation, but there are dozens of techniques, each equally as effective.
Once you have identified which pages represent the pooled link flow in your website (using SEOEngine or Majestic SEO), then based on rank order of importance you can funnel that ranking factor to a selective primary landing page, nested category, a sitemap (intended to push ranking factor to multiple pages) or push link flow to a supporting article that is ring fenced in (only linking up the chain to the post or category above) and sendd ranking factor up a silo of pages, to the top of it’s respective theme or primary landing page.
Going back to the original statement about PageRank, what you will find is, the more you link from pages that have strong link equity, the more strong pages you create in your website (which in turn rank other pages and so on).
Over time, this stemming effect allows you to scale the base (lateral relevance) of your website to encroach and encompass multiple nodes or topics. Then, by using supporting articles as silos (vertical pages under the horizontal plateau) you can swallow up entire cross sections of keywords, modifiers, semantic cousins and new keywords based on the local aggregate relevance index that intersects the varying degrees of a keyword cluster or theme.
In other words, you can scale, divide, devour and scale again to encompass the mid-tail and long-tail phrases, while subtly chipping away at your most competitive keyword. As far as off page optimization, you mirror the nodes with the most competition, i.e. categories and / or primary landing pages and hit those with inbound links from other websites with either exact match and varied anchor text to validate them from the standpoint of peer review.
By (1) leveraging the strength of your on page link equity (2) your website’s ability to create it’s own PageRank (3) the internal links targeting pages that require a boost and (4) mirroring the most competitive on page keywords with off page inbound links, any keyword is attainable.
The collaboration is merely an exercise in scaling your website to the appropriate level, which means that, yes, PageRank is important, because without discovery, or the transformation of latent pages into supporting pages, the entire website can suffer from sagging under it’s own weight or worse yet, link attrition.
This is why monitoring inbound to outbound links within a website and the focal point of both the on page considerations and the off page intersection of links and purpose within a website should be synchronized for optimal expression for all topical themes is contains.