You can boil down Google’s Pagerank system into an analogy of the Italian mafia and use it to increase your standing in the eyes of the ultimate boss – Google itself. Many travel bloggers complicate what Pagerank is, which can cause frustration and delay your page’s move up the ranks. Understanding the system makes it much easier to become a part of the network and a “friend of ours”.
Meet Don Google
Think of Google as the “Godfather” of an online mafia, which uses a vouching system to determine who it can trust and who it can’t. Your links are vouches, a travel blog’s displays of trust, visible back up to the boss.
- A big part of how external links work are “follow” and “no follow” links.
- “Follow” links are the only ones Google uses to create it’s map of the Internet – “no follow” links are ignored.
- Sure there are other search engines out there, but Google controls more than 70% of the global search market.
Almost all links are “follow” by default so anyone you link out to is used by the search engine to develop its trust map. Keep in mind that the vouches are specific, in the sense that rank is is given to individual pages based on keywords like “traveling with teenagers.”
Higher Rank, More Trust
Not all links are created equal. Much like the movie mafia, the more trusted you are, the more weight your words of assurance will have. That’s the basic principal, the more rank a page has, the greater impact a link from that page will have on the other site.
- Importance Of Relevance – Linking out to completely unrelated niches or using a pattern of unusual keywords like “playing poker online” stands out and reduces your site’s value in the eyes of Godfather Google.
- Pagerank Isn’t Everything – The placement of incoming links (whether in text or on a sidebar) are part of Google’s algorithm and the reason corporate guest posts are so interested in contextual links.
It takes time to move up the ranks and older sites tend to be more trusted by Google. Ideally you want quality incoming links from sites with higher Pagerank to your homepage and any keywords you may be targeting. That said, any links have some value for your site.
Vouching For Everyone – Why Links Pages Don’t Typically Rank
Links pages are good ways to get links for your travel blog, since they announce to the world you’re keen for exchanges. These pages don’t typically earn any Pagerank however since they give out too much trust. In the mafia you can’t trust the person who trusts everyone and that’s a bit how links pages are. They give out trust to everyone, which is why Google doesn’t give them much clout.
- Homepages Are Valuable – Many companies try to work their way up in the system by muscling their way on to your homepage, where typically your highest Pagerank is. Limit the number of external links coming out from your homepage and be choosy as to who you add there.
- Make The Most Out Of Your Link Page – There are ways to have ranked links pages.
While you can have many associates (i.e. your links page) be selective about whom you want to recommend to the boss. You can accomplish this by limiting the number of outgoing (follow) links on a given page. It’s easy to give out a link and say you trust someone, but what are you willing to do for them? Would you add a description, link to them in a post, or perhaps make them one of a few on a travel links page?
Trust Goes Both Ways
Money talks and there are a number of companies who try to gain Google’s trust by buying your good word. Selling text links is against Google’s code and you should be careful who you link out to no matter how much they may pay you.
- Getting Whacked – Link out to spammy sites or try to overtly manipulate the system and Google can reduce your Pagerank or worse – completely de-index you.
- Don’t Forget Your Followers Too – As Gourmantic notes, people generally hate vague links. Use descriptive links to build trust with your audience too.
Linking to spam or irrelevant sites is akin to introducing an FBI informant to a mafia family. You’re now vouching for that link which isn’t worth a dime and making the Godfather look bad. If that happens, guess who’s going to be penalized?
What Pagerank Gets You
Pagerank doesn’t necessarily mean your travel blog or blog posts will always be the first result of a given search. Nor does my mafia analogy mean it’s a bad, corrupt, or unscrupulous system. It’s just an easy way to understand what’s at work and how Google tries to build and rank trust with all of the sites on the Internet (most of whom it doesn’t know personally!)
Higher Pagerank means (in basic terms) that Google trusts your site and places more value on the recommendations (aka. links) you give out. Sites with higher Pagerank also tend to get indexed frequently and scrutinized under a closer lens by the big boss. Don’t obsess over Pagerank, understand that it’s a trust and value system. By making your travel blog a useful website within your niche you’ll naturally gain authority, moving up the Google (Page)ranks.