One of the most enduring controversies regarding Google PageRank is the amount of PageRank that is “leaked” by a non-reciprocated link. By linking out to other websites, many webmasters express concern that their overall PageRank total will be depleted; or at least diminished. As a response to that potential problem, many website owners have chosen to not pass PageRank to other sites.
The question then is whether becoming a PageRank “island” or even a PageRank “dead end” is a better or worse policy than becoming a more prolific linker. By linking out to other sites, can your website actually gain PageRank, start along the road to becoming a “hub” or even an “authority site”? Those concepts must be considered as part of the overall equation as well.
The problem goes beyond your own website, and includes the entire World Wide Web itself. The issue also involves your visitor traffic and the benefits they receive from your site. What’s needed is a holistic examination of whether or not there are benefits or net losses from hoarding your PageRank.
Google PageRank (one word) is the calculation used by Google to measure the relative importance of a web page on the Internet. Note that it is for a page, and not a site. It is PageRank and not SiteRank. The measurement is a numerical system ranging from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest. The numbering is not even, but in an ever expanding scale where reaching the next level is many times more difficult than achieving the previous one.
All Internet pages, provided they are not under a Google penalty, have some degree of PageRank. The factors that determine what level that PageRank will be are the total number of incoming links, the PageRank level of the linking page, and the number of outgoing links from that sending page.
The problem for most website owners, regarding PageRank, is how best to increase it and to avoid loss. That loss is sometimes referred to as “leakage”. The reality of PageRank leakage is often hotly debated in search engine optimization circles. On the one hand, are experts who say that a webmaster should avoid PageRank leakage at all costs. On the other, are experts who believe that linking out from your pages, and transferring some PageRank, will result in a net benefit to you and your website.
Because of this disparity of opinion, as a website owner, you must formulate a PageRank policy that is right for you.
Creating a PageRank Policy
As a webmaster, you have many incoming links from other web pages. The PageRanks of those incoming links will vary widely. The number of outgoing links from the sending pages, will not be the same from one page to another, either. The fewer the number of outgoing links from that page, the greater proportion of transferred PageRank will be sent to your receiving page.
Obviously, you will want to get as many incoming links as possible. You will also want them from high PageRank pages, with few links out from that page. Of course, that is an ideal situation, and rarely achieved in the real world. Keep in mind that currently low PageRank sites can turn into higher PageRank sites in a very short time.
As you add incoming links and send links out to other websites, you will want to have a goal in mind. You need a plan about how you want your website to approach the issue of PageRank. By having many incoming and outgoing links, you can move your site toward what Google calls a “hub” site. By achieving that status, your PageRank will remain strong and growing. Your accompanying position, in the search engine results pages (SERPs), will also be good as a result of the hub site status.
Along with creating a hub site, you will need many strong incoming links, as well as outgoing links to important sites in your theme category. By doing so, you can work toward becoming an important “authority” site. An authority site is viewed by Google as being especially important in your topic area. The PageRank that denotes such a site will also be strong.
If achieving hub or authority site status are important to you, then a good PageRank policy is essential. You need to decide if you want to work toward the hub or authority levels. If you do, you can’t be afraid to link out to other sites. Any perceived loss of PageRank is not of much, if any, consequence in those cases. The number, theme, and quality of the links are what count.
In any case, the debate over passing along PageRank centers around whether or not leakage in fact takes place. If PageRank is lost, the next question would be the amount that is leaked away. Since web pages, in general, tend to rise in PageRank over time, the amount of leakage is probably heavily outweighed by the amount flowing into the page. Should that be the case, steps to stem the flow of PageRank would be counterproductive.
The tradeoff from not passing along PageRank includes potential loss of future hub and authority status. It also could result in Google treating your site in a negative way. There may be an accompanying loss of positioning in the SERPs as well. The saving of PageRank could in fact be false economy. The overall loss could certainly outweigh the limited benefit.
The Google PageRank system was designed to provide a numerical measurement of the relative importance of Internet websites. Implicit in that system was the idea that PageRank would be allowed to flow freely from site to site without being impeded.
By devising techniques to prevent the passing of PageRank to other sites, a webmaster is not participating in that free flow of importance ranking. Because the Google PageRank system requires PageRank to move from site to site, Google has begun to target those websites that are stemming that flow. Avoiding the potential targeting of your site is a good place to begin.
Turning your website into an important Internet hub for your site theme requires many links. Those links can’t all be incoming links either. There must be linking out to other similarly themed sites and to authority sites in your topic area. Hub sites do very well in the SERPs as Google recognizes their importance, providing them with added weight.
Becoming a hub site will also attract natural links, and their accompanying PageRank, to your site. Many webmasters will simply add a nonreciprocal link to your site if you provide informative content. The addition of many links, and their added PageRank, more than compensates for any perceived or actual PageRank seepage. In fact the ratio of gain to possible loss is so large as to make the entire discussion moot.
A strong linking, content, and PageRank policy is a requirement for developing your site into an all important authority site. By becoming an authority, your site is almost assured a strong placement in the SERPs for your most important keywords. To achieve that status, however, you will have to attract natural links, and link out to other authority and hub sites as well.
As an authority, your site will probably have a PR7 or higher. A link out to other sites boosts their PageRank, but will do negligible harm to yours. In fact, it may even enhance your site’s PageRank. Passing along PageRank will establish your site as a good Internet citizen, attracting natural links from other hubs and authorities. Those additions will enhance both your PageRank and your position in the SERPs.
Establishing a PageRank policy for your website will enhance your own site’s PageRank. It will help you along the way to becoming an important hub or an authority site. Worrying about any potential loss of PageRank to other websites represents very short-sighted thinking. Its cost in possible loss of SERPs positioning and a potential Google penalty are not worth the tiny bit, if any, PageRank that is conserved.
Google is apparently now able to crawl Java links, rendering that system of hoarding PageRank useless. It not only becomes useless, but possibly harmful in the process. A PageRank policy that includes linking to other useful sites, and passing along PageRank, could help your own site more than is often realized. That PageRank can return to you, multiplied many times, by the addition of PageRank passing incoming links to your site.
Don’t hoard your Google PageRank. Share the wealth and reap the rewards.