This is Part 4 of Web page ranking and search engine optimization : SEO
2019 03 31: to provide information and links to source of information on numbers of backlinks linking to fathersforlife.org.
2019 04 18: to add link to Part 5.
Web pages, page rank, page reach, web rank, canonical tags, organic search returns and more strange expressions are becoming ever more important in the billion-dollar SEO industry, and an industry the SEO business grew into. Web page popularity, more commonly called page reach, is deemed of lesser importance and not stressed that much. For example,
What Is a Canonical Tag and How Can It Help Your SEO?
Do you know why your website ranks where it does on a search engine results page? Would you like to improve your site’s ranking?
It would be nice if Google provided a full report as to why a website ranks where it does. Unfortunately, even the most experienced SEO professionals don’t have the full answer sheet. Over time, however, Google and the other search engines provide the public with information on how they can improve their search ranking by implementing technical changes to their website. One of the biggest evolutions to come out of these releases, and still one of the most misunderstood, is the development of the canonical tag….
— What Is a Canonical Tag and How Can It Help Your SEO?
By Andrew Epperson, for Lieberman Technologies
That article contains a concise summary of what canonical tags are and how good judgment in using them impacts web rank of web pages and websites. No doubt, canonical tags are important for achieving high web ranks. The received wisdom is that, therefore, web rank is important for the popularity of a website. That is not quite true, better, it is neither all of the truth nor the main reason why web pages and their websites become popular.
Web rank is important for the ranking of web pages on SERP (Search Engine Results Pages). The SERP for a single search may comprise many pages that contain a list of many hundreds of links and their descriptions that a given search found. Web rank determines whether a web page containing the given search term will be found and where is will be placed on that list (at the top of the first page, farther down, towards the end of the pages or on none of them). That is all that web rank or page rank is being used for. It does not determine whether a web page and its related website will be popular.
Far too many writers who address SEO (Search Engine Optimization) obsess about doing SEO to achieve a high page rank (PR). That is, they mention all sort of tips and offer advice on how to make a web page obtain a high page rank but tell very little or often nothing on what makes a web page popular. Page rank and page popularity are not synonymous. Page rank is no the primary factor that determines how popular a web page gets to be. The popularity of a web page decides how much traffic a web page with good information will enjoy.
Page rank is arguably a function of page popularity, but popularity is only one of the factors that determine page rank. Popularity is a consequence of the appeal a web page and its contents have with people, while page rank serves primarily the interest of search engine providers who make their living from web pages that were made to carry advertisements.
After all, how would any web page ever acquire great popularity or even go viral, if popularity were not the determining factor in a web page becoming popular? Few examples other than web pages prove the truth of the maxim “nothing succeeds like success” as well as the popularity of web pages does. Furthermore, as explained in Part 2 of this article series, what is one to think of the fact that doing hard work to achieve the best-possible SEO can cause web rank to decline steadily, even precipitously, while it also causes web traffic to increase enormously?
That dilemma is described in more depth in the third part (appropriately called “Conundrum : SEO rising Traffic falling Web Rank“) of this article series. The following graph illustrates the conundrum. It shows the portion of traffic received by dads&things that is used by Google to determine web rank and the much larger portion of the traffic that plays a small role in that and is not even brought to the attention of the webmaster for dads&things. Host servers track all and not just a minuscule portion of such data and do so for very good reasons, with the tracking in this case also being done with the use of Google Analytics.
It stands for:
Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress
Use the latest Google Analytics tracking to get in-depth website stats right inside your WordPress Dashboard.
Yes it does that, and it can be downloaded for free. The statement from the promotion is true, but notice what you get. Look at the difference in accuracy and precision, by comparing what I got to reality, as I did in the preceding graph.
The statement in the promotion is not false advertising. It is misleading, without a doubt, but accuracy and precision are not mentioned anywhere in the promotion for the plug-in. Omitting that more than 90 percent of a website’s traffic is not shown in the clever reports that the user gets to see is not a lie, right?
No doubt, Google rose to prominence. It controls web ranks. Web ranks are important for generating advertising revenues. The latter enable Google to make a lucrative living and may even motivate Google to engage in what it tries to discourage all others from doing: rank sculpting. That is, the playing of games with SEO to drive more traffic to a given web page. While Google loves making money from advertising displayed on web pages, a portion of the ad-revenue generated from each click on an ad gets allotted the owner of a web page on which ads are being displayed.
That does not always work as intended. Many games are being played with displaying ads. For instance, web page owners may find that they are tricked into displaying ads for which they get no revenues. Some large software companies engage in those games, and Google is one of the largest. That does not mean that Google plays those games. Why then is Google so concerned about having webmasters do things in a prim and proper manner, while undoubtedly there is the “Conundrum : SEO rising Traffic falling Web Rank“?
What happens when a website owner has no interest in any of those games? Good or bad, those games don’t matter when a website owner has no interest in ad-revenues. They don’t matter when a website owner only wishes to bring information that he deems interesting and important to the attention of anyone who looks for such information, when neither a website owner nor his prospective clients having the slightest interest in the corporate welfare of Google.
Is it possible that web ranking that promotes the spread of ads is not at all conducive to the spread of good, objective, non-mercenary information? Could that lead to the “Conundrum : SEO rising Traffic falling Web Rank“?
That, without hard and cold evidence to the contrary, is only a hypothesis. The hypothesis leads to speculation. Still, although fathersforlife.org and its blog are only two of many millions, of more than a billion Websites in the world, and while the domain fathersforlife.org has a low web rank, and its blog no rank at all (it recently acquired the dubious distinction of containing a thousand web pages with a page rank of 0 (zero), their traffic is growing at substantial rates. It stands to reason that a fraction of the more than a billion websites in the world (only 200 million of them are active) experiences down-ranking. Some of those websites experience as well rising volumes of traffic accessing them, in spite of them having low page ranks.
The high growth rate for the traffic that goes to the domain fathersforlife.org came about while the web rank of the domain not only declined but is now in free fall. Correlation does not prove causation, not even negative correlation does, but it makes a hypothesis more interesting.
Whatever the reasons may be that motivate Google to down-rank websites, even if Google justifies doing so by rationalizing that it will serve the proper aims it is after, Google achieves that less and less traffic is “directed through search engines” to down-ranked websites. Still, for at least some of those down-ranked websites, something is at work that causes them to experience growing traffic volumes. What is that?
In the case of fathersforlife.org and its blog, a large volume of traffic is received through direct links (a.k.a. backlinks, “About 110,000 results” on a search for links linking-in to dads&things and “About 41,200 results” for the website – those results vary daily). A minuscule fraction of traffic is “directed through search engines” (about 2% of all traffic) to both websites. Backlinks are links contained in the text of web pages, in shared links, in web directories, in bookmarks, e-mails, etc.. In short, the links are being made known through word-of-mouth advertising. Anyone finding them of value is inclined to bookmark them and to contribute to the good work of making them ever more popular through discussing the information the web pages contain that they lead to. That has an inescapable consequence.
Interesting web pages will be discussed. The more interesting they are, the more they will be discussed. The more they are being discussed, the more often they will be visited. That takes place without any help by search engines, regardless of whether interesting web pages have high, low or no page rank at all. Speaking of no page rank at all,
“Dads&Things: Page Rank 0 (that is, zero!)” How does it matter? Let’s see:
- A page rank of zero causes a very low volume of traffic to be directed to dads&things. That drives down the page rank (mind you, it already did that, it can’t go lower than zero). That drives down the traffic, which drives down the page rank, ad infinitum.
- Still, even Google states that there are “About 110,000 results” on a search for links linking-in to dads&things and “About 41,200 results” for the website (those results vary daily). Some may figure that the numbers are too high, and results vary with the tool one uses, but consider the next point.
- Dads&things has now close to 120,000 page views a month, with the volume of traffic growing at 93% per year. It is not due to a page rank of zero, because that brings only about 2% of daily traffic to the blog. It sure as heck makes a mockery of the concept of web rank, as far as the popularity of a website goes.
The snippet from easycounter.com states: “Blog.fathersforlife.org is not yet effective in its SEO tactics: it has Google PR 0. It may also be penalized or lacking valuable inbound links.” Yoast SEO results for dads&things disagree with the first part of that, and so do I, for the reasons discussed in this installment of the article series. The second part is true. A Google PR of 0 is a penalty! A blog that is not even open for commenting and has a page rank of zero is perhaps not affected at all by that penalty, when it has 120,000 page views a month. It is most certainly very popular, in spite of Google’s page rank assigning a penalty of ZERO.
How to make web traffic grow without advertising
That is how traffic to websites that have extremely low web ranks can nevertheless grow at very substantial rates. No matter whether that may or may not fit Google’s intentions and purposes, such web traffic growth fits in very well with the original intent of the World Wide Web (WWW). That was to aid the free spread of information, at no charge.
The WWW got launched in 1991. Google got launched years later, in 1998, when Google had the bright idea that the spread of advertising should aid and control the spread of information. The idea was that information was without a doubt often interesting, but what made it truly valuable to those inclined to cash in on the thought was to stick advertising to treasured information.
In other words, advertising gets attached to and hitches a free ride on free information, for which the advertising earns revenues. The owners of the web pages carrying the information that has ads attached may get some of that revenue, and Google most certainly gets revenues from all such advertising, and Google becomes unimaginably rich and powerful.
Advertising now is an influential factor that determines whether and what sort of information is conducive to promoting advertising and therefore worthy of being spread. That is quite the departure from the good intentions that resulted in the launching of the World Wide Web in 1991.
The good thing about that is, the spirit that drove the launching of the WWW is still very alive. So is a far more powerful driver for the spread of information than advertising is. It serves as a plausible explanation why Google would not be interested in promoting the knowledge of the important role of backlinks, let alone analyze backlink traffic and to report it accurately to everyone concerned.
Continued in Part 5:
Click-Through Rate vs Page Views per Visit – SEO and GSC