(A disclaimer: I have no special knowledge of Google's search
technologies, most of what I will say is based on personal experince,
understanding of the web as a whole, and reading other peoples views
on Google's technology)
Google is a pretty secretive about the specifics of it's PageRank
system. In general we know it works by counting links to your site,
and pages within your site, as a 'vote' - the more votes a site has,
the better it is, or that's the theory. So obviously the fact your
site appears to have no indexed links pointing towards may account for
some part of your low page ranking.
There are other things that seem to be taken into account when
indexing and scoring pages for a search result. These include the URL
of your site (sites with a keyword in the URL do seem to garner extra
points) and also the words used in and around the hyperlink (so a
hyperlink to your site with the link text "Pottery Painting in
Phoenix" will give you a slightly higher score than a link that says
"Painting in the Park" for a search on "pottery painting".
Also taken into account for scoring a link seems to the other keywords
within a document. So the fact that one of the links to your
competitor's site occurs in a news story means that it is surrounded
by a high concentration of keywords, which possible give that
perticular link more weight.
I was unable to find a link to your site on any of the 10 pages Google
showed me (of the 'About 20' it found) that were linking to your
I didn't think that Google cleared data from it's record regularly, I
thought it simply updated it, but if the link: query has returned
pages linking to your site in the past, and doesn't anymore then it
seems that either they have been removed from it's index, or perhaps
don't exist any more. In the case of sites that do link to your page
but do not show up in a link: search, I assume those specific pages
simply have not been indexed yet. In my experience from sites I
maintain and logs I have examined, Google bots seem to pass every
month or so, and don't seem to request more than 10-20 pages in a
session - therefore, it may take sometime for a new link to be
noticed. You can always see how a page looked when the Google bot saw
it by looking at the cached version.
For what it's worth, it seems that most of the links to your
competitor's site that show up in a link: search are internal links
from within their own site.
My suggestion overall is to try and be linked to. As far as I can tell
you are doing all the right things on your site, so there shouldn't be
too much to do there. However, it may be worth asking people to link
to you as "Painting in the Park pottery painting studio" or something
similat, as the term pottery, which is obviously key to your
visibility is not it your name or URL and may not be getting the
exposure it deserves.
Here are some links that may be a help:
Google's information for webmasters.
(this may be helpfule) ://www.google.co.nz/webmasters/2.html
Google's offical (although slightly brief) explanition of it's
Another possibilty (possibly less likely)
Anchor Votes (a disucssion about Google's ranking system and
An explanation of PageRank and it's implementation
Google ranking tips from thesitewizard.com
There is no clear answer as to why your competitor's site should rate
a great deal better than yours, but hopefully I have pointed out
somethings that are taken into consideration when dishing up results,
and this may help you imporve your ranking further.