First of all, there is no direct correlation between Google's ranking
and the number of hits a webpage receives. The best known service for
ranking websites based on hits is Alexa:
A web search at Alexa returns Google search results, with some
additional Alexa data. If you move your mouse over where it says "Site
info", you can see the site's traffic rank. This is not the number of
hits it receives, but a ranking based on the number of visitors the
site receives from people who have the Alexa toolbar installed.
A search for "search engine" has the following results:
1. Altavista - traffic rank 57 - PageRank 9
2. Lycos - traffic rank 40 - PageRank 9
3. Yahoo - traffic rank 1 - PageRank 10
4. Google - - traffic rank 2 - PageRank 10
5. Search Engine Watch - - traffic rank 1587 - PageRank 8
So obviously there is more going on than just the number of hits a site receives.
Google search results are ordered according to two factors:
2) How well the page matches the query
PageRank is determined by how many quality web pages link to the page in question.
This is how Google describes PageRank:
"PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using
its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value.
In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote,
by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume
of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that
casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important"
weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important."
Important, high-quality sites receive a higher PageRank, which Google
remembers each time it conducts a search. Of course, important pages
mean nothing to you if they don't match your query. So, Google
combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find
pages that are both important and relevant to your search. Google goes
far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines
all aspects of the page's content (and the content of the pages
linking to it) to determine if it's a good match for your query."
Basically, the more sites with high PageRank that link to your page,
the higher your page's PageRank will be.
A good example is when your page gains a listing within Open Directory
or Yahoo. These are quality sites, and getting a listing usually gets
your page a PageRank of 4 or thereabouts.
The concept is simple but the mathematics involved are complex.
PageRank appears to operate on an logarithmic scale.
"Whether or not the overall range is divided into 10 equal parts is a
matter for debate - Google aren't saying. But because it is much
harder to move up a toolbar point at the higher end than it is at the
lower end, many people (including me) believe that the divisions are
based on a logarithmic scale, or something very similar, rather than
the equal divisions of a linear scale.
Let's assume that it is a logarithmic, base 10 scale, and that it
takes 10 properly linked new pages to move a site's important page up
1 toolbar point. It will take 100 new pages to move it up another
point, 1000 new pages to move it up one more, 10,000 to the next, and
so on. That's why moving up at the lower end is much easier that at
the higher end.
In reality, the base is unlikely to be 10. Some people think it is
around the 5 or 6 mark, and maybe even less. Even so, it still gets
progressively harder to move up a toolbar point at the higher end of
the scale. "
The above excerpt is from this excellent article, well worth a read if
you want to fully understand PageRank:
Pagerank Explained. Google's PageRank and how to make the most of it
Original Stanford paper by the Google founders:
Google stresses that the PageRank displayed by the toolbar is an
estimate. It only shows numbers from zero to ten. Two sites showing
PR5 could really be one with 5.1 and one with 5.9. The difference
between the two rankings could be substantial.
How well the page matches the query
Before Google invented PageRank, search engines relied on this aspect
alone. When you search for keywords, Google looks within its index for
pages that contain all the keywords. Google then looks at where those
Title - The best indicator of the page's topic
Heading Tags - Like <H1>
ALT tags - The description of an image
Regular Text - The ratio of keywords to all the text is important.
Keywords appearing in the URL and the text within links pointing to
the page are also looked at. META keyword tags are pretty much ignored
If there is more than one keyword, then a page will rank higher if
those words are found near to each other, and even higher if they
appear as a phrase.
How a site can improve rank
1) Optimize your pages for the keywords you are targeting. This means
Place the keywords in the title, filename, domain name, in or near the
text of links pointing to the page, a H1 tag, image ALT tags, and
roughly once per paragraph of regular text.
Try to focus on a single keyword or phrase per page. Try to optimize
each page for different keywords.
Appreciate that good keyword optimizing is not necessarily what will
look or read well for your visitors - usually a compromise must be
2) Get other sites to link to your page. The higher the PageRank of
the page that provides the link, the more your PageRank will rise. Try
to concentrate on sites that have at least a PageRank of 4.
Appreciate that getting a PR4 is quite easily if your site is good
enough to be listed in Open Directory, or if you pay Yahoo $299 per
year to be listed.
Appreciate that a PR6 is pretty good, and getting a PR7 is amazing. It
would be rather rare to reach PR7 just by asking other sites to link
to yours. For PR7 or higher you need your site to be so good that
visitors choose to link to it.
Some real life examples of PR vs Hits
I run a few sites, here are their stats:
Search Engine site: PR6 - 8,000 a day
Search Engine site: PR5 - 300 a day
News about Google: PR3 - 300 a day
Book about science: PR5 - 300 a day
Science news: PR5 - 120 a day
It's not just PR and search ranking, it's also the popularity of the
topic. You could have a PR9 and #1 ranking for "green furry widgets",
but if no-one ever searches for "green furry widgets", you won't get
If any of the above is unclear, or if you have further question on
this topic, don't hesitate to ask for a clarification and I'll get
back to you.