There are many factors that determine your site’s authority, trust and general ranking. One of them is Google’s PageRank, though not everyone subscribes to this theory. I believe Google PR has a great deal of value as a metric for gauging the success of your blog. That’s especially true since many ad networks and “pay per review” services determine your earnings per unit using PR, amongst other metrics.
Google PR itself is determined by several factors. This is a very light treatment of Google PageRank (PR) and should not be construed as gospel. I don’t profess to know the entire algorithm as its nuances are a mystery to most outside of the search engine team, no doubt. But a general look at how PR is built up should help you understand why some new blogs take longer to rank than others. If history is any indicator, you have less than 90 days before the next PR rollout, so your link building efforts should start now, especially if you have a new blog.
Understanding PR buildup will also help you understand some of the reasons why your new blog is taking so long to get web traffic. I’m trying not to clutter the discussion with too much technical description. What’s important is that PR can be used as a loose, relative measure of success. It’s not enough in and of itself, but it’s something concrete. Here’s a loose summary of my thoughts on PR.
- PR is valuable.
I am of the opinion (despite claims from other SEOs) that increasing your Google PR helps increase your traffic because you CAN rank higher for certain keywords/ phrases in the Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). This is important since Google dominates search traffic in most parts of the world. Thus, increasing your PR draws more traffic, some of which may be bloggers. So if your content is linkworthy, then it will eventually draw links.
- PR uses graph theory.
The graph theory branch of mathematics studies the link relationship between nodes in a graph. The web is one of the biggest natural graphs in existence, if not the biggest. Web pages are the graph nodes and hyperlinks are the graph edges. What does this mean to you? Just that because of the nature of the web, and the fact that Google employs a lot of PhDs in math, it’s very likely that the PR algorithm employs graph theory to study the nature of hyperlinks between various sites, to determine what is natural linking and what isn’t. Have you created a link farm? Are the sites linking to you owned by you? What about where you’re linking to? Is there any link collusion, as might happen in a link clique?
- The PR of outbound links may be relevant.
By this I mean the PR of sites you’ve linked to. Google likes for “link neighborhoods” to be formed. It makes their indexing job easier. Linking to a site suggests that you, a human, have attributed some value to that site. Since Google’s job is “to index the world’s information”, they like it when you link out (without being a link farm), provided it’s to relevant sites. And that’s the key: linking to relevant content is likely more important its PR, else new sites would never gain PR. They probably don’t like for unusual linking structures that suggest cliques or collusion, though I’m still unsure of blog network links and how they pass PR value.
- The PR of inbound links is relevant.
It isn’t enough anymore that you get, say, 10 inbound backlinks from other websites to score a PR4 rank. Not only does each link probably have to be from different sites (i.e., at least 10 different sites) but the quality/ trust of each site plays a role in your site’s PR. Obviously, it’s “natural” to have links from sites of different PR, but a link from a blogroll or a site whose main topic is significantly different from yours may be discounted. Editorial links from relevant posts elsewhere are the most valuable, especially if the site has good PR. I say may be because I’m not 100% sure where Google currently draws the line. Google’s algorithm gets smarter all the time and may discount the value of links from sites that you own. (Don’t be surprised if they can figure this out. I can think of several ways, most of which they’re probably already employing.)
- Being bidirectional may help PR.
Linking has to go both ways. A site that links out but has no links in might have a lower priority when it comes to being indexed. It hasn’t established any content authority yet. On the other hand, a site that does not link out at all but gains steady inbound links could be perceived as an “authority” site. Me, I prefer not to to assume this. I think it’s far more natural that a blog is linked bidirectionally, connecting itself into a topical slice of the web. (Though it’s probably ironic that this post does not have many outbound links.)
- PR depends on timeliness of link building.
Gaining inbound backlinks to a new site early on and maintaining is more valuable than having a gap of time where you receive few to no backlinks. It doesn’t seem fair, but if you establish some authority early, it’s a signal to the Googlebot that your site is probably worth indexing regularly. For this reason, it’s important to post very regularly for the first while, until you’ve at least moved from PR0. It’s also important that the speed of your link growth is natural.
- PR is logarithmic.
While Google’s algorithm changes constantly, it appears that it takes about 10 legitimate links to get to a PR4, 100 to get PR5, 1000 for PR6, 10000 for PR7, and so on. That’s a base-10 logarithmic scale. But ignore the math and consider this: it means that it gets much harder to get to the next PR level. What’s more, Google’s idea of what a “legitimate” link is also changing, and more drastically in the rollout at the end of April. That’ll probably continue.
Let’s look a bit further at the last point. Those numbers of links are based on my readings. They may change at any time, or already have changed, judging by some of the strange drops that I’ve witnessed or read other bloggers mention. They’re for illustration purposes only. There’s more to PR building than just getting links, but it’s an important factor.
If you are getting some new backlinks every day because your blog is so fantastic, you can figure out how long it might take you to reach your target PR. For example, one new Google-legitimate link per day will take you about three years to get to PR6 – provided the algorithm hasn’t changed drastically. If you’re not getting even that, it’ll take you a long time to get where you’re going – presumably PR10, because doesn’t everyone want that?
On the other hand, if you can reduce the time needed to acquire a certain number of links, through various link building strategies, you’re golden. Tubetorial, for example, gains dozens of new links per day (Technorati link listing), thanks highly in part to the free Cutline WordPress theme. It links back to Tubetorial. (If I understand the way Technorati records new links, it does so when someone actually clicks on a link to your site. It won’t show up until then – neither in Technorati nor in your blogging platform’s control panel.) So Tubetorial is gaining links on a much faster curve. The diagram below shows that (not to scale).
Now I should point out that the bulk of this post was written over two months ago, and Google might discount theme-based links at any time, or they might not. Even if they do, theme links build traffic, which may eventually pay off in editorial links. So don’t discount offering a free theme.
What Can I Do To Increase Links and PR?
This post isn’t intended as a full discourse on building your PR or link building. However, a few pointers:
Link into your archives with relevant anchor text. The search engines will give preference to those of your pages that you indicate as being relevant. In other words, if you don’t love your archives, how will they? Doing this will at the very least increase the PR of individual post pages, if not the home page. If you need some help in that regard, and you’re using WordPress, Chris Pearson has some great tips for exposing your archives. (The principles can be applied for other blogging platforms.) Linking into your archives helps expose your older articles and thus new readers will more easily find them. If some of those readers happen to be bloggers, deep linking your site increases the chances that they will link to you. That way, you are increase both internal links and backlinks.
- Post great content.
Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this before. This is often overlooked. Don’t just post text. Add images with relevant alt text. Add rich media (audio, video), maps, etc.
In summary, if you have a new blog, it behooves you to start building legitimate links as early as possible. The simplest way to do that is to post great content regularly, deep-link your archives, and promote your site by participating in relevant conversation – either in the comments section of related sites or in relevant forums. Any activity that brings you targeted traffic will eventually bring other bloggers who will link to you if they know your site exists.