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.