Today’s Homework is a guest post introduction by Mike Collins. It is long but extremely useful as Google is rumored to be updating its page rank in Late January early February and these can help you rank higher.
Alexa Rank and PageRank: Keeping Up Appearances
As a blogger you have probably heard, at least a handful, of terms that refer to making your website more appealing to Google. In the interest of simplicity I am going to use the term Google when referring to search engines. What is important to Google should be important to you. Why? Organic traffic and rumors, of course.
Let’s start with the rumors.
The two most important aspects to my website are Alexa Rank and PageRank. This is entirely false. But here is the catch, advertisers do not care if it is false. As a potential advertiser I can only see a few things from the outside. I can see what your PageRank is, I can see your Alexa Rank and I can see where you end up in Google when I type in a keyword. The latter is the least reliable because you can go from page one to page 50 in a day. From an advertisers point of view Alexa and PR are important to me because it gives me an idea of the traffic you get and the authority of your site.
Alexa Rank is the most misleading. You may get tons of traffic but have a high Alexa Rank (lowest is best). In order for Alexa to gauge the amount of traffic to a website the visitor must have the Alexa Toolbar installed. If there is no toolbar then there is no hit recorded. The average viewer does not use the Alexa Toolbar. Web developers on the other hand do. The Alexa Rank is a completely useless tool to use for yourself to gather knowledge about your own site. Yet it is vitally important to have a low Alexa Rank if you want to attract advertisers.
How to Improve Alexa Rank
Unless I am trying to attract advertisers I do not bother with it on any of my sites. When I want to attract advertisers it is a quick fix. (90 days max)
- Increase all traffic to play the odds of having some visitors with the toolbar.
- Target other web developers which most likely have the toolbar. [Todd here, its true. Travel Blog Challenge has gone from a 6 million Alexa rank to 106,500 in just one month because the target is travel bloggers with the tool bar installed]
- Check my own site daily with the toolbar.
How many times a day do you look at your own site? When you open your site always click on a few different pages. This is important because it will show you have a lower bounce rate. This may sound like cheating; however, the game is rigged to begin with by having false stats.
What Will Not Improve Alexa Rank
Sites like Stumbleupon. If you notice the address bar when viewing a page from a SU link it is not your URL. So even if the person has a toolbar you will not get credit. You can get 1000 SU visitors and zero hits.
Paid services. There are many services which claim to increase your Alexa Rank by sending visitors. This method works for a very short period of time and is a complete waste of money. No paid service or traffic exchange should ever be used under any circumstances. Google can and most likely will sandbox your site which can take a long time to get out of.
PageRank is not a ranking for your page. It is an algorithm created by Larry Page that measures the weight of a set of documents in relation to another set of documents. This weight, or importance, is primarily judged by the links to these documents.
To better understand links, or backlinks as they are more commonly known, one should think of them as letters of reference. If you are a junior professor at a university that is applying for a position as a full professor at another university then you will want letters of reference. You will sit down and make a list of whom you want to get references from. The majority of the websites out there have a list that looks like this:
1. My dry cleaner
5. Mother in Law
That list is not going to get you the job. Your chances are much better if the list looks like this
1. Dean of the University
2. Senior Professor
3. Academic Association President
Now let’s assign a number from 0 to 10 to these references. The Dean gets a 7, Senior Professor gets a 5, Academic Association President gets a 2 and students a 0.
As a junior Professor your rank is a 3. Even though you have references from people with a lower rank than you, it is still a benefit. Alone they would not do the trick, but combined with people that are your senior you have a well rounded list that shows you are a good candidate for the job.
Backlinks act in the exact same manner. They must be from related sites. Don’t ignore the lower PageRank sites just because you are higher, but still go after the higher ones.
These backlinks are the primary references to gaining a good PageRank. Note that I said primary. Just because you have the references does not mean you get the job. As a professor you need to publish publish publish. It has to be your own work. (Unique content). That does not mean that you cannot use other text books. (duplicate content) it is all about balance.
Your work must be neat and well organized. (Clean Code on your site)
Are you willing to sign a contract for this job? How long? 1 year or 5 years? When you register your domain you should register it for 5 years. This shows Google that you are not going to have a site that comes up “Site Not Found” in a few months. It shows a commitment. This is why most sites do not even get a PageRank until they are over a year old. Google’s main concern is about user experience, not PageRank. No matter what you do on your site, if you keep user experience in mind Google will recognize it. No one knows how it all works. It is a well guarded secret of over 200 algorithms by Google.
That is pretty much all we have talked about here. Alexa does not tell YOU how much traffic you are getting. PageRank does not tell YOU how important your site is. It is nothing more than the most important useless information a site can have.
Advertisers are becoming much wiser. Do not be surprised if they ask to see your Google Analytics. Your AR and PR may get you in the door but it will not close the sale. For this reason I suggest getting your site optimized and of high quality prior to worrying about the outside appearance.
Mike I have been traveling for the past 30 years. He is the force behind Exotic Visitors I have sailed the oceans of the world on my 42 foot sailboat “No Boundaries”, hiked thousands of miles through rain forests and the Appellation Trail. Life is an adventure and I want to absorb everything about it that I can. You can connect with Mike on twitter @capnmikecollins
Today your homework is simple and yet frightening difficult (I lost a lot of hair…yes more hair). Improve the speed of your blog and increase your chance of ranking higher in Google by following Mike’s instructions in the forum topic The Perfect Website According to Google.
Based on Mike’s advice, and the simple (yet difficult) installation of a few WordPress plug-ins you can really clean up your blog, make it run faster, and impress the ladies (well, OK maybe not the the last one).
I went from an AFFFFF to an AACBFF. Yes, I understand that you have no idea what that means, so go check out the topic Mike started and get yourself some learning.
Share Your Latest Post
Besides posting on Mikes forum topic feel free to share your web speed and Google Ranking progress in the forums. Share your speed statistics, improvement and challenges in the forum at Blog Homework 5.
If you are not registered in the forum yet, click the link to the top right to get started.
And of course we love it when you post your ideas in the comments so have at it. What plug-ins do you like best for improving the performance of your website? Feel free to insert links to the plug-ins.