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The "PageRank" Lesson is part of the full, Modern Search Engine Optimization (SEO) course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Discussing the first algorithm used by Google for search results, Mike reviews Page Rank. PageRank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how the importance of a site compared to other sites of a similar nature or content. Mike answers PageRank questions from students.


Transcript from the "PageRank" Lesson

>> Now we've got some links coming back to us and we've sort of gone through the basics. Let's talk a little bit about how search engines work internally. So at least at a basic level, the underlying assumption of how search engines work is that your quality and your importance is proportional to the number of sites linking to you.

And if you're an important site, your links are worth more in terms of boosting the importance of other sites. And the corollary to this is also, if you frequently link to other sites, your links are worth less as influenced boosters, compared to important sites that hardly ever link at all.

So a good example here is we'll talk about, one way you can use Wikipedia is to kind of submit edits. Appropriate edits that will link back to your business if you're the authoritative source on a particular piece of information. That's a very important site, Wikipedia shows up as the first result for many, many search queries, however, it links out to other sites like crazy.

A counter example to this would be, if links to your site. They may hardly ever link to sites outside of their own domain. And so that rare occurrence, it's almost like an endorsement. And that could boost your SEO ranking tremendously overnight when that sort of rare event happens.

So you sort of end up having some amount of importance and then diluting the effect of your ability to link outwards proportional to the number of outgoing links you have. So over here, we have a diagram that relates to Google's Page Rank algorithm, which was sort of Larry Page's big idea that helped Google start its path to emerging as a search giant here.

And what I want you to see is that. If we look at the red circle here, which is B, a lot of things linked to it, and that's what's driving its importance. The purple circles at the bottom, like almost nothing links to that or nothing in this case.

So they're very sort of unimportant low quality pages. But they serve to sort of collectively inflate B's importance. And then as a consequence of B being important, it only takes the one link to C to elevate C up to being a very important site, right? Because it's not linking out much, it only has one outgoing link.

And it's giving all of that influence to C and so C gets inflated a lot. So in terms of when we talk about link building, the really sweet opportunities would be people who very infrequently lend their social proof and lend their credibility to other businesses. If you can tap into that, that will boost your reputation up substantially.

And you can see here, there's an equation that goes along with PageRank. So these numbers represent some math that, at least at the time that Google was founded was correct and it's evolved since then. But you can see that it's like a 30x difference here, it is not a subtle difference, it's not like it's twice as good.

It is dramatically better to have these high impact sites that infrequently lend their credibility out, citing you, that's a sweet spot, yes.
>> So is it better then for your own business to sort of hoard the links you send out? Is it better to be like B and just give out one link to one person as opposed to sharing with multiple people?

>> That's a good question. So if we think of ourselves as being B here, right? And we're really only caring about our radius here. Unless your business is offering your influence to people, that's not the main focus of what you're trying to do there. So you could hoard it and then you have something that's worth something and you could share it out.

However, if B didn't link out or if it linked out all the time, that doesn't diminish its own importance. That just diminishes its ability to transfer its credibility to someone else. Does that make sense?
>> Yeah, that makes sense? Yep, so it doesn't necessarily inflate your own power to not link out.

It's how valuable you are to others.
>> It is how valuable to others, which I guess in some senses, that sort of is, in some ways, your own power, right? So I know that there are some tech bloggers that sort of infrequently endorse another person's idea. And when you come across an endorsement, you look at that and you say, wow, I don't see that often.

I'm gonna listen to this.
>> It's also surprising on large sites in particular, if they link to their own pages, their own resources, they're passing SEO between pages, right? The link text, the search engines really like the link text used to link to internal pages.
>> So linking to your own pages helps make your topology a little bit more enriched.

I don't know, specifically talking about PageRank. I don't think internal links are even evaluated. However, if you had two businesses, so I do consulting with LinkedIn, if LinkedIn and Lynda are linking to each other, those are two separate entities in the eyes,-
>> And Microsoft.
>> And Microsoft, right?

>> They can share between each others domains by linking to each other.
>> Yes, right, and they all actually have,-
>> And Microsoft has a ton of different domains and different products and they can interlink between those.
>> They can, but they're effectively in doing so spreading out their value, and it's better to have one huge single point of influence on a really nice topic than to spread everything out over.

>> Yeah, that's why we moved Frontend and .com under, so.
>> Good move. We have a question online.
>> Yep, Nikita Kay asked, if there's a way to see PageRank, maybe you'll talk about this at some point. She's asking about tools for seeing something like that.
>> So you can see your PageRank by installing some Chrome extensions.

And if you search for PageRank, there will be a bunch of them that, I think Google has one, they used to have something called Google Toolbar. I'm not sure if that's still maintained. The thing that I would caution people on is, it's like watching your stocks every hour.

You just wanna focus on things that are known to drive PageRank up and watching it every day and keeping tabs on it. That's not really gonna help you move your mobile forward, especially if you're a new startup, and there are other established players in the space, they're going to be ahead of you.

And there's really nothing you can do except let time pass and let people start visiting your site. It's a long term effort. So you can see your Page Rank. But I don't find that that is something that I frequently focus on. I just know that this is the theory of how things work.

And this is why you want people to link to your site. The thing I'm more focused on is looking at the inbound versus outbound links on sites that can refer to me. So I wanna be able to tell A versus B and C. So I can know, well, let's go out to lunch with B and see if I can write a guest blog post on their site.

Cuz I want that 30x multiplier.
>> So just if I can focus that in a little bit.
>> Yep.
>> So the algorithm is a black box essentially. So you don't necessarily know how to weigh different measures.
>> Yes.
>> You're just trying to take a scan of the field of what sites are influential and measure that against your PageRank.

>> Exactly, so the algorithm is a blackbox. We do know with certainty that certain factors have a proportional versus an exponential effect on how you show up in organic search results. And this is actually not a blackbox. This was Larry Page's, I think it was his PhD thesis.

And so this was published, and it represented the first iteration of the search algorithm. And since then, we don't really know what direction it's evolved in. But the same principles have served that business well.

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