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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

PageRank Leak

Introduction to PageRank Leak

When it comes to Google Page Rank, there is only so much information that we, as Web masters and bloggers know is absolutely true. A lot of specific details and the ins and outs of Page Rank are still very much part of the Google room of secrets, but that doesn't stop the hoards of hard-charging SEO experts from speculating and making educated guesses. One of these subjects, which most of the time is controversial at best, is the issue of the possibility of your precious Page Rank "leaking" out to sites that you might not necessarily want it to "leak" to.

You see, this is a very debatable and much talked about issue (the leakage), and when I talk about your Page Rank leaking, what I mean is that when your outbound links "leak" out Page Rank to redundant external links which would normally be distributed to your internal pages, so it reduces your sites/blogs overall Page Rank. For some people, this doesn't concern them because they aren't aware of this possibility, but for others that are aware of this leak that can take place, it gives them chills thinking about it. Think about it - it takes some damned hard work, effort, and time to obtain a respectable Page Rank, and when you finally get that magical number assigned, the last thing you want happening is it "leaking" out needlessly. You earned it and you want to keep it, which is very understandable. What you're about to read are general ways to make sure that you aren't a victim of leaking Page Rank, and these tips are something you should get into a habit of anyway with a blog or a website. These tips are meant as a very basic and hassle free outline of how to help combat Page Rank. I'm no SEO expert, and I don't claim to be, but I know that utilizing this knowledge will help you out quite a bit.

Increase Internal Linking
This is a tip that will help many different aspects of your overall campaign. Increasing the amount of internal linking should be something that you do without even thinking about it. Every time you write that great article, there is almost no reason why you can't link to an older article within it (as a reference). Not only does a hearty amount of internal linking help counter-act Page Rank leaking, but it will also help increase your individual pages PageRank, bring visitors to articles they might not have otherwise been aware of, and overall breathe some life back into those great older articles that you have from the past. Remember to make sure that when you link to an older article that it's relevant to the one you just wrote.

To build further on internal linking, another great way to step it up is to install and use the "related posts" plug-in, which you can find over at WASABI WP PluginsWiki. This is a fantastic and automatic way to increase internal linking on your site without having to even think about it. Also be sure to tag all of your posts, and there are plenty of plug-ins available out there that will automatically do this for you and make it a lot easier.

Something that you probably already have in place (if you don't, then you should!) is having the recent posts and/or popular posts in your sidebar. Again, most people have this, but it's also another easy way to increase internal linking. Reason being, is that since it's in your sidebar, it's being displayed on every page of your site, which if you have an old enough blog or site could mean hundreds or even thousands of pages. I'm glad I just said that because it brings me to my next point....

What you need to get rid of right away is redundant outbound links, as this is the real killer. I just mentioned the fact that links displayed in your sidebar are shown on every page you have. For your most recent or popular posts, this is great, but think of your "blogroll", or that list of top/recent commenters. While it's great to have those available, I highly suggest modifying your code so that it only shows those kinds of links exclusively on your homepage. If not, then you are linking to all of these different sites on every single page you have on your blog. When added up, this could be quite a significant "leak". The best thing to do is to do a quick Google search to find out how to limit your blogroll and other outbound links to your homepage. There are plenty of folks out there who can guide you through this surprisingly easy process. Some people actually add the "nofollow" attribute to these kinds of links, but it kind of defeats the purpose - especially for a blogroll, but technically it would help although you might piss a few people off. However, adding "nofollow" to things like your Feedburner link, Technorati button, and similar items will help cut down any PR that you leak to them.
So the short version of some ways to counter-act (or limit) the effect of PR leaking:
  1. Increase internal linking within the actual post, when possible.
  2. Use the "related posts" plug-in
  3. Tag your posts, always.
  4. Show your recent and popular posts in the sidebar.
  5. Limit Blogroll and Top/Recent Commenters to your homepage.
  6. Include the "nofollow" attribute when necessary.

Don't Be Greedy!

Just keep in mind that while you should be a little more watchful over your outbound linking, it's not in your best interest to be too greedy with it. The reason being is that if you start to become known as a webmaster that doesn't link out much, then karma will definitely pay you back in the same way! If you stop linking to people, they'll eventually stop linking to you, and we all know the consequences that could bring. Just use your best judgment, give credit where credit is due, and you'll be fine. Especially in the blogging community, "link love" is what keeps us all going, and 99% of bloggers will eventually link to you if you link to them, so it's a nice balance. Once again, the "leaking" Page Rank topic can be very complex, especially once you start talking about the algorithms and technical jargon involved, but this article is meant for those that just want the basics without all the fuss.

Following the above tips will no doubt help you in the long run, and it's just overall good practice for your blog/site.