Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 1, 2009
What a way to start the new year. While many people are sleeping off their New Year’s hangovers, I decided to do a quick little research project concerning blogs, page rank, and SEO.
First, the why. One of the comments I received on my year end post talked about Google’s update of page rank. Then, on Twitter today, I saw it referenced a few more times, some people happy, some people not happy at all. Of course, many of us took time to discuss this issue of page rank last year as it applied to our blogs, and a part of that discussion came through when talking about dofollow versus nofollow blogs and the like.
Suffice it to say, no matter which side of the fence you’re on as it applies to page rank and Google, it’s still a hot topic. I decided to do something that I doubt very many other people have done, or will do. I decided to try to do a little bit of research, a study if you will, on some blog posts, their page ranks, and the SEO of those page ranks to try to determine why they might have any page rank at all. I started with my blog, this blog, and went through every single post I’ve written since February; talk about going all out for a project. But that’s not all. I also went through every post on another blog from June until recently, a popular blog that I’ll mention later, and came up with some stuff there also. I’m sure the writer of that blog won’t mind, since I’ve done some research for him that he might be able to use later.
Second, a quick talk about page rank for the uninitiated, since not everyone knows what it is. Page Rank is a concept that Google came out with to try to give people a quick snapshot of the internet relevance of webpages, based on criteria that only Google really knows. No matter how many people have written articles trying to explain it, with all these oddly complicated algorithms, no one really gets it. The one thing most of us knows is that it’s supposed to somehow be related to the number of people linking to you that are in somewhat the same field as you to show just how relevant your “competition”, for lack of a better word, feels you are. In reality, page rank won’t determine how well your site might make money; it doesn’t determine how much traffic your site gets. It’s all about the linking, and in the past two years, the only site I have been to that had attained a page rank of 10, the highest you can get, was the World Wide Web Consortium, and they’ve even fallen back to a 9 out of 10; go figure. There may be another one out there, but I don’t know who it is (Google themselves gets a 10 out of 10 on their main page, which has no links or anything else, so I discount them).
Third, a quick talk about SEO, or search engine optimization. SEO is a concept that says one does the best they can in “optimizing” their site so that search engines will find them when people go looking for something, but the higher a site can be found for search terms the better. This one can impact income, so there are many “tricks” of the trade that people can employ, some legitimate, some sneaky, to try to manipulate the system. For instance, as it pertains to my consulting business, one of my search terms comes up both #1 and #2 on Google; manipulation isn’t always a bad thing when done legitimately. However, sometimes, even the best SEO efforts might not get you what you’re hoping to get, which is why there’s so much confusion in the arena. SEO works very well if the market isn’t overly saturated; if it is, there might not be anything you can really do.
On to the study. I went through about 285 posts of mine, starting in February of last year and going through the first ten days of December 2008. I went looking first for page rank of any type on and of my posts. My site has a page rank of 3, and has had that since June, I believe. I think page rank 3 is the standard deviation for most sites in the world, though it’s not the average by any means; the average is much lower. But if you have a website that you’ve done anything with and it can sustain even a little bit of traffic on its own, you’ll probably end up with a rank of 3. The majority of my sites are a 3, with one attaining a page rank of 4, another a page rank of 2. My main business site used to keep a page rank of 4 until the previous update, and I’m not sure why it dropped but I didn’t worry about it.
Anyway, I went through all my posts, and I only have 3 posts that have a true page rank; all of those posts are page rank 1. I have three posts that are page rank 0, as opposed to unranked, and I’ve researched this on Google also, and found nothing that anyone has said that can explain the difference between the two. Some of the theories don’t make sense when one does the research and, just in case someone wants to say it if I don’t mention this, all my blog posts have been indexed by Google, including all the older ones and newer ones, so that’s not a reason for it.
The three posts that have a page rank of 1 couldn’t be more different in scope, size, or topic. One of those posts was a relatively short one with a video, my embarrassment on the small town in Ohio and some of the things they were saying about Barack Obama before the election. Another was the guest post on Squidoo. The final post was my question, with videos, on the type of razors people use. Each site was optimized with the All In One SEO plugin. One was relatively short, the other had four videos, and the long one,… well, one would have thought that with the number of views it’s gotten thus far, over 330, that it might have been ranked higher, but it’s not. Frankly, I couldn’t tell you why any of those posts got a page rank at all except the Squidoo post, and I couldn’t tell you why it’s not higher. Well, I have one minor thought, but I’ll take that up when I talk about the other blog.
And now, the other blog, which is my friend Yan’s blog called Thou Shall Blog – Blogging for Beginners. As I said above, I went through his archives, and though he just started his blog in April, I started in June. Out of 96 posts by Yan, he has an amazing, to me, 16 with some kind of page rank. Nine of his posts have a page rank of 2; great stuff, Yan. One of those posts, Best Places To Get Quality Backlink, has over 200 comments, while another, Motive Interactive Review, only has 25 comments.
Anyway, taking a deeper look into the PR 2 posts, though Yan wrote nice articles, they weren’t overly optimized. I looked at the source code to see what kind of meta keywords he used, and they weren’t anything overly outstanding. Yeah, I know, meta keywords have little significance in page rank, so many say; get over it, because there is a relationship at some point between meta keywords and how one uses the keywords and phrases within their content. I then looked at the keyword density, not only compared to the meta keywords, but compared to what the articles were supposedly about. Nothing overly done there either. In other words, Yan didn’t go out of his way to do anything overly spectacular in these posts, compared to much of his other work where, I must say, there’s some superior writing to many of the ranked posts.
So, it’s not content that drove it. Could it be links? Many of his ranked posts are lists with multiple links; half of the 16 are “numbered” posts, so to speak. So, that would lend more credence to the links within a post, but hold on. It’s supposed to be “backlinks” which help drive traffic to one’s site, not the links one puts in their content to someone else’s site. Now, if he’s been doing a lot of internal linking within these posts, that might be a major key, but he didn’t; for that matter, I do a heck of a lot of internal linking on my blog, but on the three posts that I have some kind of rank on, I didn’t do a single internal link.
Could it be the links within the comments? I might have believed that with his post that has over 200 comments if it wasn’t countered with the post with only 25 comments. Is it because the people linking to Yan, in their comments, are running blogs or businesses that are related to Yan’s content? No, that doesn’t quite hold true either when comparing all the links to what he wrote about on those particular posts, as well as what his keywords are in describing what his blog is about. And, by the way, Yan’s blog, though it has Comment Luv, is NOT a dofollow blog, which means none of those comment links help anyway. Now, that could mean that, by not being a dofollow blog, he’s protecting his “link juice” (by the way, who came up with that term anyway?), as people are wont to say, and therefore that’s what’s helping his blog, and if that’s so then that’s the only difference between my blog and his, since I’m giving it away to everyone who stops by; y’all can thank me later.
So, what is it? I don’t honestly know. And I guess that’s kind of the whole point of the matter. I read so many blog posts where people are worried about their page rank, or attaining page rank. We even had a dofollow/page rank discussion here. Some of y’all have lost your page rank for one reason or another; was it because you accepted paid advertising, did paid reviews, or your website name was somehow offensive? Do you really know? Did Google ever tell you why? Can anyone here actually tell us for sure that page rank is what’s made their blog or website help them make more money online?
No, you can’t, because when all is said and done, page rank has absolutely nothing to do with any of it. This doesn’t mean you don’t work on the SEO for your blog or site, because you never know what someone might be searching for online, and if you and they happen to hit on the same thing it’s nothing but pure gold for you. But concerning yourself with page rank over anything else, especially your content, and what you might have to share with others, is illogical, and will possibly hold you back. For instance, could I even be considered a prolific writer of any type if I was always stopping and worrying about doing my SEO properly enough so that my posts would attain a high page rank, which, as my study kind of shows, probably isn’t going to happen anyway?
It will be interesting to see what the commenters have to say on this one, the first true blog post of 2009 for me. Yeah, it’s a long post; listen to it by using the Odiogo widget above instead, if you need to. Come on, talk to me y’all; the things I do for you! 😀