I’ve been chatting with a reader recently following news of the Google Page Rank update. He has a number of blogs and has received different page ranks for different blogs. What he couldn’t work out is why some sites came in at different page ranks as his more successful blogs actually received lower PR. He was kind enough to give me access to his stats (including Adsense) on the basis that I could write about the experience if I didn’t name him or the blogs.
Pageviews: 1500-3000 per day
Pages in Google: 172
Age: 4 months
Adsense: 500 ad views per day average
Also using: Fastclick (popups and banners)
Revenue: $3-5 per day
PR with update: 4
Pageviews 500-1000 per day
Pages in Google: 103
Age: 2 months
Adsense: 70-150 ad views per day
Also using: affiliate links
Revenue: $1-$3 per day
PR with update: 6
Both blogs run WP with essentially the same Kubrick based template (with color/ design variations), same setup in terms of plugins etc.., are on the same shared server. The number of incoming Technorati links was similar.
So what was the difference?
I got some more information based on what I saw from the sites:
Blog A was a member of services like Bloghub and Blogtopsites
Blog B was not a member of any of these sorts of services, however he had advertised the blog at WeblogEmpire and had managed to do 3 reciprocal link exchanges with blogs who cover similar tech items.
Blog A was linked into by all his other blogs as it was older (essentially the blog network model)
Blog B was linked into by only a handful of other blogs he owned.
Now I don’t know whether the popups/ Fastclick stuff would affect a PR update, but it could be a factor, but this is what I believe the problem to be:
Blog A doesn’t have quality links
Blog B does.
He also had another Blog (we’ll call it Blog C) that came in at PR 5. It sat somewhere between Blog A and Blog B in terms of links and memberships.
And this is where it gets tricky, because Blog A makes more money (it has higher traffic) but I’d say with a PR of 6 once the current PR update finished Blog B has better potential, but it may take some time to get there. I’d note also that Blog B also has nearly 50% less posts, so if you look at it on a time perspective it’s actually tracking about the same place as Blog A was at a similar point in its life….except for the PR update :-)
Less links but from higher quality and related sites equals better PR.
Now I’ve always been an advocate of exchanging legitimate links with people (it’s also a great way for your readers to discover new blogs as well), and the numbers we are talking about here are pretty small, but my conclusion, particularly when you are starting out in blogging, surprised me.
What not to do
It’s fairly common knowledge that link-farms and similar sites are a big red flag for Google. I can’t help that wonder whether multiple blog directory listing may do the same thing. Now I know a number of people who run these sites, and they are all good people, but I’d advise that you don’t join multiple sites of this nature when you first start up, because I’d think the more you join the more chance you’ll have of being red flagged by Google (and it’s also advice shared to me a while ago by Nick Wilson of Performancing who knows his SEO stuff. I guess I didn’t really believe it at the time because these services are so popular….and yet I’ve now seen it as part of this study).
The interlinking perspective amongst blogs you own is an interesting equation. You’ll see that this is standard form for any blog network or multiple blog owner, and in my experience previously (from when Weblog Empire was a blog network and not a forum, and from b5media) is that it works a treat, however the difference between the reader example and what I’ve personally done in the past is this: the interlinking always included a number of blogs with high PR (for example The Blog Herald at PR7). I would conclude that too many links from PR0 sites without a high PR blogs to offset the lower quality links upsets the Google rankings, as in this example Blog A has a lot more links than Blog B.
What’s a PR site worth?
I only have one example here. A long term reader about 12 months ago asked for a link from The Blog Herald for a new blog she had setup. She only had a Blogger blog of her own (no PR). I wanted to give her a hand so I swapped links with the site. The blog received a PR 4 at the next update with no other incoming links. I’d conlcude that one link from a PR 7 site, and maybe a few stray minor links, would create a PR 4 site.
Services such as my recently launched Weblog Empire Blog Link Exchange (ok, shameless plug, but there is a moral to this story) change this equation because you are able to network with bloggers with similar blogs and exchange links in the same way blogs and bloggers use to in the blogosphere 2 and 3 years ago, in the age prior to automated link exchange emails where today its nearly impossible to actually ascertain legitimate link exchanges. I’d note also that these links are usually contextual (ie people are exchanging links based on similar topic areas) and in this case the blogger only swapped links with blogs he liked, in the same way that many bloggers did (and to some extent still do) via email.
Google appreciates quality links, it doesn’t appreciate lower quality links.
I’ve written here about improving your Page Rank with Google but I do not suggest in anyway that you should attempt to game the system Google’s Page Rank service is meant to provide a quality review of a site. However, there is nothing that stops you improving your standing with Google, particularly if you are doing less linking as opposed to more, which is what I’m suggesting in this post (to a point).
The reality is on PR:
1. Many advertisers will consider your PR when they place an ad. Although some may wish to manipulate Google with their ads, I honestly don’t believe all of them look at it this way. To many advertisers PR is a quality metric that they assess along with things such as Alexa traffic.
2. Better PR normally equals better traffic and success in the longer term, the two are interlinked. Using PR as a metric in which to improve you blog isn’t any different than looking at ways of increasing your traffic from any of way, what’s different here is that I’ve chosen PR as a measurement of future success (so Matt Cutts, please don’t ban me :-) ). It’s part of the bigger picture and shouldn’t be taken into consideration alone in building a successful blog, but it’s still an important part of the jigsaw puzzle.