This is an eternal question. Search engine optimizers would remain glued to their computer screen to take in the first hint of any PageRank update as and when that occurs. And when it occurs, it will be an anxious wait till the dust settles, before scurrying off to rework ways to claw back in ranking in case the new PR reduces.

Why so much bother? Does PageRank really matter? The short answer is yes, PageRank does matter, but not as much as it is made out to be. Let us talk things over.

What we know

The first lesson on PageRank will be an unquestionable reference to what Google says. According to Google [http://www.google.com/technology/], “PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value.”

Elaborating, Google says 2 things. One, more the number of incoming links to a webpage, more is the ‘number of votes’ for that page. But then comes the second rider. According to Google, it also analyzes the page that sends links and attempts to figure out how ‘important’ or ‘relevant’ this page (rather its content) is vis-à-vis the page which it links to.

Broadly speaking, links between 2 travel-related webpages make much sense in the eyes of Google than that between a travel-related webpage and another concerning, say a watch manufacturing company.

A succinct yet clear explanation of PageRank Technology is provided by Google here [http://www.google.com/corporate/tech.html]. The underlying idea is to provide surfers as accurate search results as possible. The ‘life of a Google query’ though lasting barely a second, is a mind-boggling go-between through several stages before an answer is delivered.

What we do not know

Howsoever revealing may Google’s explanations be, the bottom-line remains that for most of us, calculation of PR continues to be an enigma. Does any one know for sure how PR works? Ian Rogers of IPR Computing has in this essay [http://www.iprcom.com/papers/pagerank/] explained fairly well as to how PageRank is calculated by Google.

However, even if the mathematical equation to calculate PR is known, what is not known is which set of its data Google uses from its databank for finding out the PageRank of your webpage. This essentially translates to no more than second-guessing as to what the next PR would be. It would therefore be not wrong to say that most of the users (and indeed the so-called SEO experts) do not know what their PageRank would be next time. (Having said that, I must not consciously deny readers of this article to know what their supposedly Future PageRank [http://www.seochat.com/seo-tools/future-pagerank/] will be.)

Why the hype

And herein lies a superb marketing strategy. Ever wondered why Google thought it pertinent to let PageRank displayed in its toolbar? On the face of it, there is no need really, except to ‘stoke’ the fire of chasing a mirage. You see a mirage as much as you know how PR is calculated. But try as best as you would, you cannot decide your PR.

In the process Google gains. An enormous volume of writings (like this one) centers around Google. Whatever Google does is news in an instant. There is a whole lot of ‘pure’ Google-watchers out there whose job it is to only report on the giant search company. Publicity sans cost, not bad that.

The link companies

Google’s wish notwithstanding, there is no denying that PageRank mystery has given birth to thousands of link-related business. Since Google is explicit in explaining at how it looks at links, it has been easy for link-making companies to work out their preliminary business strategy. Beyond that it’s purely rat race of garnering share of link-hungry websites. All the time, Google remains unfazed, except occasionally churning it topsy-turvy to keep PR mystery alive.

What would you do

You need not overly bother about PageRank. Do not get me wrong! PageRank is very real. What is not is your ability to alter it any sooner. There should not be any express-effort to ‘acquire’ links. Instead, maintain focus on adding and enriching your web content, for that and that only would create a permanence of interest among your viewers over a period of time.

Emphasis must be on creating value to your viewers’ time, so that there is always something new to learn, something more to know. Along the way if you pick up a good link or two every now and then, that will be more than welcome.

What, if you are in hurry

Not everyone is destined to wait for a hike in PageRank. Then again, even a high PR may not instantly lead to bigger traffic. So pretty soon, you may ponder how long it will be to profit from your web venture. Profit may be to earn publicity (blogs for example), to make your readers giving consent to your paid newsletter, to sell your products or services (or even selling others’ products or services), or suchlike.

If indeed you want to cut short your long wait so as to profit from your web venture, Google has a ready solution. It is about targeted keyword advertising program, called Google AdWords. In sharp contrast with PageRank, Google lets AdWords users to actually control their accounts in order to attain more visibility. But that is another story for another day.

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