Is PageRank Based Only on The Number of Backlinks?

Is pagerank based only on the number of backlinks? What about where those backlinks come from? What about the authority of the backlinks or the anchor text you use to build those links? Look, the questions about backlinks never stop … and they never change. So let’s carve this answer in stone this time and have it done with. If you want to increase your pagerank, then the best type of backlinks are natural backlinks. Period. Once you understand what natural backlinks are, then you’ll see that the number you have isn’t necessarily that important.

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What is a Natural Backlink?

Let’s say you write the world’s most authoritative blog post about Purple Penguins. From one end of the Internet to the other, there is no other blog post that contains the depth and quality of information that your post contains. It’s truly a work of art.

Soon, other bloggers out there start telling their readers about your Purple Penguin article…

  • The blogger who blogs about the wildlife in Antarctica links to your article and tells his readers about your research on Purple Penguins.
  • The blogger who blogs about Purple Socks links to your article and tells so his readers can see the exact shade of purple he’s talking about.
  • The blogger who blogs about Polar Bears links to your article to show his readers what Polar Bears like to eat.

These are all natural links. These other bloggers are linking to your article of their own volition, simply because it’s the best resource on the Internet for the information they need. You didn’t have to pay them, you didn’t have to trade links with them, and you didn’t have to use any other Black Hat or questionable methods to get these links. It’s like Sally Fields when she won her Oscar – These bloggers LOVE you! That’s what makes them so very valuable in the eyes of Google.

Now, obviously, the more of these natural links you have coming in, the better. But Google also looks at where these links are coming from, the credibility of that site, and how relevant your two blogs are.

If that blog that talks about Purple Socks has its own high authority rating with Google, then they’ll pass some of that authority onto your URL when they link to you. However…

If that just happens to be a porn blog and they’re linking out to your blog because the name reminds them of a strip club in Vegas, then you might be in trouble. Because a blog can just as easily pass its bad reputation on, as well. For that reason, it’s important that you monitor your incoming links closely to make sure there are no nasty spammers or porn stars linking to you.

The link also loses value if there’s no relevant reason for that other blog to be linking to you. Let’s say your buddy with the Football blog wants to help you out with a backlink. Since there’s really no reason for a sports blog to be linking to a blog about Purple Penguins that link looks a little spammy in the eyes of Google. You might not get de-indexed, but you certainly won’t gain anything from it either. Get enough of those, and you could be jeopardizing your ranking.

No, pagerank is not based only on the number of backlinks. As you can see, there are a lot of other factors to consider, too, and we haven’t even touched on the difference between no-follow and do-follow links. In conclusion, quit spending so much time trying to game the system and focus on creating content that generates natural backlinks. Because that’s what Google’s really looking for.

Stéphane Kerwer
Article written by Stéphane Kerwer (1995 Posts)
Bonjour from a french guy. My name is Sté Kerwer and Dukeo is my blog. I do most of the heavy lifting in here but from time to time, you may see some guest posts. To receive updates from Dukeo, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.
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4 Comments (Add one)

  1. Andi the Minion

    Absolutely, great upfront information, get your head out of trying to beat Google, write great content and work with Google.

    Google had to bow down to John Chow who they believed was doing some black hat SEO practices when he was getting links from all over the web, they realised that he was in fact creating such good content that everyone wanted to link to his posts.

    he was sucking in natural links by the bucket load from simply creating great content. A model I am trying to follow.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Let’s be clear, gaming the system and beating Google short term is doable if you manage to dodge bullets and not attract too much attention. However, in the long run, they’ll always catch you.

      Regarding your John Chow example, the story is more complicated that this and he was doing a lot more than just creating good content. I invite you to do more research on the subject since you are very far from the truth. He tried to game the system and got caught.

  2. jsncruz

    I “link” to “unrelated sites” whenever I’m sourcing images I use on my blog. I don’t know if Google can tell this is spammy, but I prefer to give credit where credit is due than be selfish about my PR :)

    1. Sté Kerwer

      As long as you don’t use copyrighted images, you’ll be fine ;)