Articles for Webmasters     The Difference between PageRank and Search Engine Rank

By Lysis

Many website owners think PageRank (PR) and search engine rank are synonymous. However, these two components of a successful website are different. Although having a good value for both is extraordinary, a website owner can have a successful online presence while still maintaining a PR of only four or five.

Google PageRank

PageRank is a numerical value calculated by Google. The PageRank name and formula are trademarked and patented respectively by Google. The value is used to determine the popularity of a website. The popularity is measured by the amount of backlinks that point to pages on your website. For this reason, each page within the domain can have different PageRank values. It's not unusual for a domain's homepage to have a PR of six or seven while inner pages only have a value of three or four. PageRank is calculated by Google approximately four times a year, so your PR value will only see changes a few times each year.

PageRank is one of the hundreds of factors used to determine the relevancy and position in the Google index. Many website owners put a lot of time and effort into link building and use methods that are against Google's guidelines. Some website owners purchase backlinks from link exchange companies or spammers. The initial benefit is seen in a quick increase in PR. However, if Google detects this type of practice, the backlinks to the website are devalued. This leads to a reduction in PageRank. In some cases, Google may drop the website's PR to zero.

Search Engine Ranking

PageRank only helps a website in the Google index. However, a successful rank in Bing and Yahoo require similar dedication and work. For most websites, success in Google is followed by success in Bing and Yahoo.  Google has announced that PR values should not be the website owner's main concern. Instead, the website owner should focus on valuable content, easy navigation and a good user experience.

Search engine rank is a time consuming process that takes work and dedication. The ranking process is unique from PageRank in that it requires several factors. Some common search engine ranking factors include code implementation, keyword-rich content, regular updates and a sitemap.

Some website owners use blackhat techniques that initially raise search engine rank. The Google algorithm has become smarter and detects many methods such as hidden text and cloaking. Using hidden text, publishing pages with bad code, implementing a slow homepage and interlinking several domains without the use of the "nofollow" parameter are all ways a website can lose its position in Google.

Cloaking is a technique that loads a specific page for Google and displays a different page for website readers in an effort to increase search engine rank for certain keywords. Google removes websites from its index for blackhat programming habits like cloaking. Ensure any code implementations follow Google guidelines to avoid a penalty. Penalties from Google result in a drop in search engine rank. Websites ranked on the first or second page are commonly dropped by hundreds of pages.

Although both these search engine factors lead to a successful website, site owners should focus on content and a good user experience. Google can bring thousands of visitors to your website, but a website can still fail due to poor website design. Instead of focusing on search engines, focus on a good user experience and search engine rank will follow.

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