- The PageRank still exists, and here’s a deeper look at how Google’s Reasonable Surfer Model plays a key role
- A well thought linking strategy both internally and externally for your ecommerce site can amplify search visibility
- Google expert Susan Dolan and Founder of leading agency NOVOS, Samuel Hurley, share an ecommerce SEO guide ahead of the holiday season.
PageRank is a patent Google introduced, which used links to help determine websites rankings in the SERPs. The algorithm was named after Google founder Larry Page.
The original patent has not been renewed and has since been updated by other algorithms, which work to achieve the same goal. However, by understanding the fundamental principles, we can better understand how to position our eCom sites to drive traffic and revenue.
PageRank key concepts
PageRank is passed between websites through links and can be distributed through a single website with internal links.
Some pages have a higher PageRank than others and thus can pass on more PageRank to pages they link to. When a page links to another, a dampening factor is applied. The original patent set this as 0.85 – so a page with a PageRank of one link to another page would pass 0.85 PageRank.
Critical update: the Reasonable Surfer Model
Google’s Reasonable Surfer Model indicates that a link that is more likely to be clicked on will pass more PageRank than a link that is less likely to be clicked on. This is determined by a host of factors, including font size, color, and anchor text. However, the position of a link on a page is also something that we often have control over as SEOs and can, therefore, leverage. Here is a simple, rather crude representation of how certain links will pass more/less PageRank based on the prominence of a connection and how likely it is to be clicked on.
As linking pages pass PageRank, it stands to reason that we want to generate backlinks to critical pages that we want to rank. For most ecommerce sites, the pages that rank for the highest volume and most revenue-driving keywords are category pages. Wherever possible, we should therefore look to use tactics that support link building through to the pages that drive revenue, which for most sites looks something like:
- Category pages
- Product pages
- Blog posts
This is obviously easier said than done. Practicing these tactics with an overall aim to drive PageRank to your key pages. This reduces the dampening factors at play.
How to get past this
One common way to bypass this difficulty in building links to category pages is internally linking to crucial category pages we want to push from blog posts/Digital PR pieces that then get links themselves.
Although the PageRank passed to the page we ideally want to rank will undergo a dampening factor, this can still be more beneficial than failing to get any links at all to your target page.
It is worth considering how relevant the category page is to the blog/PR piece it is being included on and where the links are placed on the page, being mindful of the impact the Reasonable Surfer dampening effect can have.