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How does Google's ranking actually work?

Posted by
27 July 2010

Facebook might refer more traffic to news websites than Google these days. But any digital marketer ignores Google’s search engine at their peril.

Yet there are still many that are oblivious as to how Google’s Pagerank works. In this video I explain how PageRank works.

Google themselves defines their ranking system, called PageRank like this:

‘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”.’

Note Google does not talk about domain rank. It largely ignores domains – like wewillraakyou.com – but looks at the value of individual pages like wewillraakyou.com/hoes-does-google-page-rank-work/

Every page has a value merely for existing on the world wide web. When a page links to this page it transfers Pagerank to it. If a page has two links it splits the value it can transfer between these two links.

Google's PageRank formula

Google's PageRank formula - makes the web a meritocracy

In other words, links are like votes. But not all voters are equal. Voters that have received many links themselves can transfer more voting power.

Therefor the BBC site, which has a lot of amazing content and to which many people link, has pages with tremendous PageRank. If one of these pages link to your webpage, you are guaranteed to get a major Pagerank boost.

This system has meant that web search acts largely in a meritocratic fashion. If somebody does something remarkable, it tends to rise to the top.

It also means that if you have a mediocre website, content, service or product you will have to spend top dollar to get eyeballs. In other words, just as with social sharing the rule applies for search: advertising is a tax on an unremarkable product.

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