One of the reasons why Google pulled quickly ahead of the competition soon after it was launched in 1997 is that it used a revolutionary new method for ranking websites in its search results page. This method was the so-called "PageRank" system, which takes into account not just a website's on-site content, but also its popularity. Using advanced link analysis algorithms, Google can more accurately rate the relevance and popularity of a web page for the targeted keywords and phrases.

The End of Keyword Spamming

Before PageRank and similar link analysis ranking methods became the norm, search engines ranked sites bases solely on their "on-site" content. This essentially meant that as long as the website prominently contained the targeted keywords, it could rank highly on the search result's page. Meta tags and descriptions were used to determine a site's primary keywords. The problem with this was that it led to a lot of keyword spamming. Websites were just inserting popular keywords into their content, whether the keywords were relevant or not, just so they could obtain a higher visibility. PageRank link analysis algorithms put a lot less emphasis on the number of times a keyword shows up on a page, however, and much more emphasis on the web page's perceived popularity and usefulness in the online community. Thus, keyword spamming has become a lot less effective.

PageRank and Link Analysis

The PageRank concept makes use of the internet's uniquely democratic structure of interconnected links. The more links a page receives, the higher its relevance becomes in the eyes of search engines. When website A links to website B, it is taken as a sign that website A finds website B highly useful/relevant enough, in terms of whatever the central topic of website B is, to promote it. So basically, a link from site A to site B is a vote for site B's importance. The more votes a website has, the higher its ranking will be.

But it's not just the number of votes that PageRank takes into consideration. It's also the quality of votes that gets measured, this is where a good search engine marketing agency comes into play. If a website that is itself highly rank votes for you, its vote will be given more weight than a website that is not very well ranked. Because links are usually given out by third parties that have no monetary or otherwise vested interest in the commercial success of the site they're "voting" for, it's a lot harder to manipulate your PageRank "score".