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All in all, I think PR and IBL are a way for google to show how important your site is, and taking measures to inhance these things doesn't help your rankings alone. There is just a lot more to it than that. Does anyone want to comment on some other possibilities as to what should be done in addition to link building?
[edited by: lawman at 9:04 am (utc) on Mar. 11, 2006]
One other thing they do is what Matt Cutts has referred to as "nearly hidden" text and Google has not done a thing about it. They are enjoying top placement.
So yes, links, anchor text and related link factors do figure in prominently -- both links from other sites and links within a site. Also many factors on the page itself play in. Other possible elements have been mentioned in their nearly infamous patent applications -- things like age of the domain and even traffic.
I wouldn't be surprised if the presence of a mail server on the domain mattered a little bit, as well as the presence of an SPF record. If I were Google, I'd be looking at every sign of quality and legitimacy I could think of to combat "search engine persuasion" -- and I wouldn't publicize anything but the very top of that pile.
PR6 and 37 reported links
I assume you know this, but it's worth mentioning again for all readers -- Google only ever reports on a sampling of links, and not nearly everything they have in their index. For research, check actual links on another search engine to get a clearer idea.
Yes, I'm well aware of that. I'm only pointing out that it's unusual to see a PR6 with only 37 reported links. Their link count in MSN for example is just under 5000. We have a PR5 site with 95 reported links in Google and only a few hundred less than this competitor in MSN.
The quality of their links doesn't appear to be anything special either. That's why I too think that Google is placing less weight on links and more on other factors.
it's unusual to see a PR6 with only 37 reported links.
Sanity check. Let's see what low-link count samples I can find within 10 minutes. The hard part is finding lots of stuff with a given PR.
PR Google-reported back links
So, is it "unusual"? Well, it's probably not the norm for PR6, but it's not that hard to locate (I figure 68 and 45 are pretty much in the same ballpark, and I only spent a few minutes looking).
This is actually a fun little game. I quickly decided that the trick was to find search terms representing niches that had a fair # of followers, but not much computer savvy. That seemed to raise the odds of finding a website that's popular, but not likely to have many inbound links. That, in turn, raises the odds of finding a low link count, where one of them happened to be from a high-PR source.
I'm only pointing out that it's unusual to see a PR6 with only 37 reported links.
Additionally to the points made above about google only showing a sample of links and the fact that one single link alone can create a PR<x> page (where x is equal to or less than the linking pages own PR), it's worth re-iterating that google's PageRank algo is about page rank and not site rank.
When you check backlinks, you are checking backlinks to a page and not a domain.
The effect of PageRank distribution throughout a site via its navigation links, especially where many deep links are involved, can often be a complicated thing to unravel.
Ideally, to get a more accurate view, you would need to look for backlinks to every single page on a domain.
That's why I too think that Google is placing less weight on links and more on other factors.
That's a widely held view, but not one that actually has any effect on pagerank, only SERPS rankings.
PageRank (PR "value" on a scale of 1-10) is a system based entirely and solely on links.