Why should I link to pages with low Google Page Rank?
Poor question. A better one is why not link to pages with low PR if they offer a relevant and easy path to your website for people who might be interested in what you have to offer.
Let’s consider both these questions by filtering them through five realities.
1. About 99 million of the internet’s approximately 110 million websites never appear high enough in Google’s returns to really matter. (“Not high enough to matter” being defined, in this case, as returning in the top ten pages.)
2. Page Rank is largely irrelevant to return position and return position is the only thing that determines if you will get any business via Google’s natural search results.
A lot of people still don’t believe this but it’s true, Google’s algorithms pay precious little attention to PR when assigning return positions.
Let’s turn that around and make it a question: True or false, Google’s algorithms pay precious little attention to PR when assigning return positions?
Dateline: Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008
Browser: Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2
Search Term: Car dealers Los Angeles
Search Engine: Google
Page Rank Reporting Agent: Google Toolbar 5 Beta
Page Ranks Of Natural Returns From Position One To Position Ten: 0,2,4,4,3,2,2,4,2,4
Alrighty, then. Let’s ask that question one more time. True or false, Google’s algorithms pay precious little attention to PR when assigning return positions?
Based on the evidence, what do you think?
3. Good, relevant links may positively affect your PR and/or return position regardless of their PR and bogus/irrelevant/automatically harvested links may negatively affect your PR regardless of their PR.
Well, yes, of course, if you have 500 organic, progressively added, properly positioned (no more than 100 per page), relevant links with a PR of eight, nine or ten it will probably — but not necessarily — make your site look more impressive to Googlebot than if you have 500 similar links with PRs of three or four. But that does not mean that all those lower PR sites can’t improve your site’s status at all.
Google, as it has said repeatedly in its official pronouncements, considers links an essential part of the web experience and uses them as a factor in its rankings. Good links are good links and can be beneficial, bad links are bad links and often are harmful. The difference between how a link to a so-called “popular” website with a high PR and a less “popular” one with a lower PR impacts a site’s ranking is usually just a matter of degree.
4. Links to quality, compatible sites with low or even no PR cannot hurt your ranking and can drive traffic and customers to your site.
There is nothing in the Google Guidelines that says they penalize sites for having good but not highly PR’d links. In fact, the guidelines clearly spell out the type of black-hat linking practices that may affect a site’s ranking adversely: link schemes designed to increase ranking or PageRank (and) links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web. The guidelines say nothing about downgrading anyone for a good link from a relatively new or otherwise under-ranked site.
Since there’s nothing there about penalizing good links to low-ranked sites, it is illogical and a bad business practice to refuse a link that would provide valuable information to your end users and/or a portal for new prospects to discover your site just because that link might not also give you a bit of SE boost.
Once again, we can explore this concept a bit by referencing Los Angeles-area car dealers in Google’s terribly useful little toolbar.
Here are ten major-brand L.A. area car dealerships and their home page Page Ranks.
Cerritos Ford: 3
Felix Chevrolet and Cadillac: 2
Honda of Hollywood: 3
Universal City Nissan: 0
Toyota of Hollywood: 3
Mercedes-Benz of Beverly Hills: 0
Bob Smith BMW: 3
Midway Ford: 3
Vista Lexus: 3
South Bay Chrysler Jeep Dodge: 2
Hhhmmm … all those bully boys who clog the SEO forums with their uninformed or deliberately biased bilge would almost certainly say you better watch out, you better not cry and, most of all, you better not link to sites with such pathetically low Page Ranks. (Sorry about the “Santa Claus is Coming To Town” bit, but it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas except at Circuit City and the other big box stores.)
Yes, that’s what most self-anointed SEO gurus would say. But what about you?
What if you owned a car insurance agency, a detail shop, a limo service, a seat cover and window-tinting service?
Would you refuse to trade a link with the Beverly Hills Mercedes dealer because Google considers a luxury car shop in one of the world’s richest communities unimportant and worthy only of a zero rating?
Are you crazy?
Would you tell Midway Ford to go to hell with their link because their PR is 3?
Are you stupid? Midway’s one of the biggest Ford dealers in the country.
How about Universal City Nissan, which has been Hollywood’s premier vendor of that marquee since it was called Datsun? Would Google’s bestowing a zero PR on them make them an inappropriate link partner for your business?
Of course, not. Linking is all about marketing, not statistics. Car dealerships are a great place to market car insurance, auto detailing, limo services, seat covers, etc.
Both those definitions are accurate as far they go, but they stop far short of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Because the truth about these kind of links is that they can significantly contribute to your bottom line despite their hosts’ low PR. The truth is that these links are extremely likely to be seen and clicked by precisely the people most likely to be in the market to buy what you are selling.
The truth is that connections like this are not just links, they’re golden links. Free links at least as good and in many cases better than the best links money can buy.