How PageRank Differs From “Page Rank” or SERP Position

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Page Rank - A picture depicting how social and websites are interconnected to develop higher PageRank and SERP Position.

Some People Erroneously Equate “Page Rank” with SERP Placement

It is easy to get confused by the abbreviations and acronyms used in today’s SEO and online marketing world. While trying to optimize your site for visibility in search engine results, you are often faced with deciphering jargon like EMD, SERP, PPC, SEM, and UXO, just to name a few. While all the acronyms and abbreviations do have some meaning, none are quite as important to a website designer, marketing professional, or content creator as the SERP. The search engine results page (SERP) is where your content can be found by searchers entering queries into their favorite search engines, if that search engine has deemed your content worthy of optimal SERP placement.

Often confused with “page rank,” or PageRank as it is officially known, SERP placement is actually quite different. While PageRank is a value assigned to your web page based on a set of factors built in to the search engine’s algorithm, SERP placement is the actual location where your content gets listed when someone searches for it. Some people erroneously equate “page rank” with SERP placement, and assume that your page’s “page rank” means its position in search results. In actuality, PageRank is just one of over 200 different factors used by Google to determine where on the search engine results pages your web page will appear.

Most people aspire to having their content appear on the first SERP because several different studies have revealed that most searchers do not look beyond it when searching online. Just how important is the first page?

  • 94% of searchers selected a first page result
  • 33% of all SERP clicks were for the first result on the first page (the second result on page one gets 18%, and the numbers keep sliding downward quickly)
  • 50% of searchers do not look beyond the first three results on the first page

While Google Instant has slightly changed the SERP selection landscape, it has not done so to the point where aspiring to attain first page (or first position on the first page) placement has fallen to the wayside. For those who aren’t familiar with it, Google Instant is a feature implemented by the search engine juggernaut that begins providing search results before you have even finished typing your query. Depending on what your query may be, the final results on the SERPs may be identical to the Google Instant results, but they can also differ dramatically if you are actually looking for something that the intuitive algorithm isn’t anticipating.

An interesting thing to note is that the statistics listed here do not take into account more conversational search queries versus very specifically worded ones. For example, if someone types “weather” they will almost always have weather.com appear in the first position of their SERPs. This is true even if they add a location (“weather new york”). This type of search result is based on historical data that shows that most people, when looking for weather information, choose weather.com as their preferred source. You would think, since “weather” is an extremely general term, that the SERPs would provide a more diverse variety of results, but the search engine algorithm has determined that most people want a particular website when searching for particular words or phrases.

More conversationally phrased searches, however, often see searchers sifting through multiple SERPs rather than sticking to the first few results on the first page. For example, if someone uses the phrase “why does my cat eat plastic bags,” they might spend quite some time selecting a variety of links from several different SERPs instead of just the first one or two on the first page. The difference between the two is the search engine’s estimation of whether the searcher is looking for a variety of information versus one specific piece of information.

Regardless of whether you are attempting to position your content based on hyper-specific keywords or more conversationally worded queries, you should still ensure that you are applying the basic principles of SEO and content marketing to your websites and pages. Both on-page and off-page optimization play important roles in the overall ranking of your online content in search engine results pages, and there are many things you can do to improve your site’s “attractiveness” to search engines.

Now that you know your “page rank” (SERP position) is actually a result of your PageRank and many other factors, you can start digging deeper into the many other components that actually determine where content appears in SERPs. Some have significant weight in determining SERP placement – like RankBrain, content quality, and inbound links – while others have a very small role. When you more fully understand the factors involved, it makes it easier for you to develop and implement your SEO and content marketing strategies more effectively and successfully. ∼The Cleveland SEO Guy

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Picture of the Cleveland Seo Guy - Danny ToddThe Cleveland SEO Guy, Danny Todd says 'It’s not what you sell; it’s how you sell it. He understands that sometimes the best brands get left behind because their web design and SEO has become outdated. The Internet is always changing! Google and the other search engines are always adapting! Keep your brand current and reach Google’s #1 spot.

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