EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHERS

What is PageRank?

Harrison Jacobs



Okay, so you’ve made your website. You’ve uploaded it with your best shots and even got one of your design friends to draw you a fancy logo. You’ve posted your blog post announcing your ambitions in the photo world. Well, you are just a lonely outpost on the outskirts of the Internet metropolis. How do you get clients, photographers, and laymen to start seeing your pages?

These days, people find websites through Google. They search terms for what they are looking for and click through the links on the first few pages. How do sites get on those first few pages? The solution to that has a lot to do with PageRank.

PageRank is the algorithm developed by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford. The algorithm is one of the primary ways that Google ranks the importance of a webpage and therefore determines how it will show up in search results.

The concept behind PageRank is that links are equivalent to votes. The more pages linking to Page A, the more important Page A must be and therefore the higher it should appear in search results relevant to the page.

Not all pages are created equal. PageRank gives more weight or authority to sites with higher PageRanks. Therefore, if Page B has a higher PageRank than Page C, Page B’s link to Page A is going to mean more to the search results than Page C’s link to Page A. 

However, if Page B and Page C have equal PageRanks and Page B links to more websites than Page C, Page C’s link to Page A will mean more to the search results. This is because Google interprets a page with more links as one that is less discriminating.

This picture by Felipe Micaroni Lalli is an excellent illustration of how PageRank works:

The size of each face is proportional to the total size of the other faces which are pointing at it.

This all probably sounds pretty confusing, but it makes a ton of sense. Take a site like CNN.com for example, the number two News website on the Internet, with 62 million unique visitors per month in 2012.  CNN has a huge amount of resources and credibility. They are a provider of fresh content on the Internet. A large percentage of those 62 million monthly visitors will link to CNN because of their content. They link to CNN content because it is high quality and highly credible. Therefore it makes sense that each link should be equivalent to a “vote” for CNN. Because the content is valuable and has been “voted” for, Google’s search engine (as a curator of quality content) wants to put it at the top of their rankings to draw more visitors to the good content.

In addition, CNN doesn’t post a lot of links to outside sources (proportional to the amount of content they create anyways). They want to keep readers within their network of content and they are highly selective when they do link out to other sites. Because they (a) have high authority due to the quality of their content and the number of people linking to it and (b) are very selective about linking to other sites, a link from CNN is weighted with a lot of authority by Google. 

Basically, what this all comes down to is inbound links, more commonly known as backlinks. In order to get eyeballs on your site, you are going to have to score backlinks.

In next week’s blog post, we’ll talk about what backlinks are and strategies for getting them to your site.

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