Why Google PageRank Matters for Travel Writers

Why Google Page Rank matters to Travel Writers
30 November 2009 Post Author:
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So why should we focus heavily on Google?

The answer is crystal clear considering that Google commands a 78% market share while its other major competitors (Yahoo! and Bing) only make up a combined 19% market share.

This is why all bloggers (including travel writers) should make it a priority to target the search engine giant’s PageRank system to have their articles ending up on the top of search engine results .

What is Google’s PageRank?

In the simplest of definitions, this is the search engine giant’s system that measures the ‘authority’ of a website on a scale of zero to ten. Take the major news outlet CNN, when they publish a breaking news story we are going to more than likely believe what they are publishing. If a new start up company called ‘GreatNews’ broke a story we might be skeptical in believing the story. This is no stroke of luck that CNN.com is given a Google PageRank of 10 while the fictitious GreatNews would probably be given a very low ranking.

How does PageRank work?

The algorithm is basically a weighted sum of other Google PR’s that are linking to your website. Thus many will argue that it is better to have a couple high PR websites linking to you instead of many low PW websites. I’m not going to explain the overall probability distribution math formula but if you want to confuse yourself for a few hours or days, I recommend you read Wikipedia’s ‘PageRank’ entry.

Why does your PageRank matter?

The reason is that we travel writers are basically trained to just write good content that will hopefully be spotted by major publishers. If we don’t care about how our website ranks with major search engine then we are in for some trouble. I find this interesting because in the travel writing, we are aware of a few well known websites that we personally consider an authority but might not be by Google. For example, as of November 13th, 2009 these are the current Google PageRanks for a few travel websites;

  • Lonely Planet – Google Pagerank of 8/10
  • Nomadic Matt- Google Pagerank of 3/10
  • Tourfolio – Google Pagerank of 4/10
  • Travel Writing Exchange – Google PageRank of 4/10
  • The Perrin Post – Google PageRank of 6/10
  • World Hum – Google PageRank of 7/10

How can I get a higher PageRank?

It’s all about getting other websites to link to your website as this tells Google that “Hmm, if other websites are linking to your website then it must be a great source of information!“. The best methods to increase your PageRank include;

  • Guest posting on other blogs (preferably with a high PageRank) that will provide a link back to your website,
  • Asking other travel bloggers to include you on their blogroll,
  • Writing great content that is helpful to readers as other travel bloggers might link to your article.

What might lower my PageRank?

  • Your website not being optimally coded has the possibility of slowing down search engine bots that are crawling your website to index your posts,
  • Duplicate content that is written exactly word for word might lower your PageRank,
  • Links on your site that are pointing to internal or external websites that don’t exist,
  • and much more that Google hides from users.

How can I check my website’s PageRank?

I personally use a free online tool called PR Checker (http://www.prchecker.info/) as this always rated high in search engine results when I was seeking information about my PageRank.

Google’s Supplemental Index

Otherwise known as Google Hell. If you are finding your travel website with a PageRank of N/A after using the above tool, you might be in Google’s auxiliary index. This means that your website will rarely show up in search engine results unless the search is very specific. So if someone were to search for “Italy tours” they will probably not find your article about a tour of an ancient catacomb in Italy. However, if they searched for “Italy tours of ancient catacombs in Sicily” there is a better chance that your website will appear based on less results on the Internet.

~Bryan

11 Responses to “Why Google PageRank Matters for Travel Writers”

  1. Rebecca
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for the great tips on obtaining a higher page rank. I do my best to get link back to my sites. I’m also in the process of writing an eBook and hopefully will do more “guest” blogging.

  2. Akila
    Twitter:
    says:

    Great tips! In addition to these sources, Search Engine Land has a comprehensive article on Google Page Rank. http://searchengineland.com/what-is-google-pagerank-a-guide-for-searchers-webmasters-11068 I think one of the most interesting points is that high Page Ranked sites do not guarantee a high ranking search for a particular search term. I’ve noticed this on our blog — even though we only have a page rank of 3, we are on the first page of search hits for certain search terms because people regularly click on our link.
    .-= Akila´s last blog post: sweet potatoes, three ways =-.

    • Excellent resource, Akila, thanks for sharing that! You’re absolutely right that high Google PR does not equal high ranking for keywords. A lot of people believe that Google PR is irrelevant these days, and to SOME extent they are right, BUT it is still important when you’re considering rates for advertising space on your site (my weekly Case Study post for this coming Friday delves into this topic) and it does also play a part in how your site is ranked by OTHER sites like Digg, Alexa, and Technorati, which can lead to more site traffic coming your way.

    • Bryan Cassidy
      Twitter:
      says:

      Agreed. A good way to view how important Google’s PageRank is overall – is to think of it this way…

      You might be the first search engine result for “travel news in northern italy” even though you have a Google PageRank of 3/10; however if someone just performed a search on a broader but related topic, such as “travel news”, your Google PageRank might be a bit more important as you might go from the first few results all the way to Page 15 on a Google search for those keywords.

      Just type in a broad topic such as “news” into Google and you will see that CNN, ABC, etc… appear as they probably have PageRanks of 9/10 or 10/10.
      .-= Bryan Cassidy´s last blog post: Trippy Review: Lonely Planet’s Google Wave Extension =-.

  3. James Hills
    Twitter:
    says:

    Page Rank / PR is a cool ego thing, but really has nothing to do with search engine positioning or traffic generated by search engines … I would recommend that people focus on generating good copy and organizing it with search engines in mind than to worry about a site being PR 1 or PR 5.

    That being said, a PR increase is a cool thing for no other reason than the fact that advertisers and PR (Public Relations) people tend to rank sites that way and you get access to more “stuff” and “advertising revenue”.

    My site is a PR2 (Man Tripping), but dramatically out performs other sites that are a PR 4 in terms of search traffic.
    .-= James Hills´s last blog post: The Traveling Spirits – Men’s Gift Guide II =-.

    • Google PR does come into play with respect to SERPs in a situation where all other SEO factors being equal between two sites in the same niche, one has a higher PR than the other. In nearly every case Google will list the site with the higher PR before the second, lower PR site in a search engine results. But again, that assumes all other factors being equal, which is rare. Search Results are more about keywords than PR.

      So you have a good point that when it comes to purely looking to increase your sites search engine results, a blogger is way better off to focus on good content, lots of it, good organization, and a focus on keywords than to worry about PR not climbing fast enough. PR increases will come in time.

      But it still is a metric that travel bloggers should be aware of, and pay attention to, and take a few easy steps to increase it when they can.

  4. Good article about the pagerank for your website. It is not easy to get a higher pagerank.

  5. Jonathan
    Twitter:
    says:

    Good article, gives a clearer picture of what’s needed – quality over quantity. Thanks!

  6. Daniel McBane
    Twitter:
    says:

    The list of high PR travel sites is pretty useful, although I noticed that some of them are pretty inundated with spam. I guess once your site gets popular, it becomes harder and harder to stay on top of little details like that. When you have a few visitors a day like I do, it’s pretty easy. That said, I’d gladly trade with them.

    • Quite true, but I do find it annoying when a site owner doesn’t take time to stay on top of comments, cull the spam and respond to those that should be responded to. That said, I do agree that it would be a nice problem to have. :-)

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