We humans love to keep score. PageRank and Alexa Rank are ways of keeping score when it comes to your web site.
As a freelance writer, I occasionally get questions from potential about how well my articles can expect to rank in terms of PageRank. I tell them that I'm really a writer, and that the content I provide is just that — content. I'm not an expert at SEO, and I'm not someone who goes in for trying to boost a web site's PageRank.
However, I do understand why people care about things like PageRank and Alexa Rank. Humans like to keep score, and we also want to know what something is “worth.” PageRank and Alexa Rank, along with other metrics that are sure to be developed in the future, are ways of keeping score and assigning value.
Advertising Dollars and Ranking
Before people advertise on your web site, they want to know how much reach you have. While this information can be discovered by sharing information about subscribers, or unique visitors, or Twitter followers, it's much easier for advertisers if it can be broken down into a simple number. PageRank and Alexa Rank provide you with something you can show others, providing an idea of where your site sits compared to others.
With PageRank, you are ranked from 1 to 10, depending on how much “authority” your site has, or how “important” Google thinks you are. PageRank has a lot to do with links to your web site, and the “quality” of those links. Many advertisers are willing to pay a little more for an ad placed on a site that has a PR 4 or 5. If you have an even higher PageRank, you might be able to charge even more.
Alexa Rank is a little different, in that your ranking depends on how many people are visiting your web site. However, only those who have the Alexa toolbar, or widgets on their sites, will register as visitors. (One blogger group, Yakezie, focuses a great deal on improving Alexa rank.) With Alexa, the lower your score, the better. You can receive more money for ads placed on your site if you have a better Alexa Rank.
In either case, it's possible to game the system to improve your ranking. However, that is the case with just about any system, especially ranking systems online. The fact remains, though, that these are some of the systems in use to determine what rates you can charge for advertising — as well as numbers that help you figure out where your blog might rank.
While I don't think that PageRank or Alexa Rank should be the final word in the “value” a web site provides, it's worth it to consider the effect that these systems can have on your ability to charge for the ads you place on your site. Additionally, these systems can give you some idea of where you stand, and whether you are improving in terms of how the search engines and other web analytic companies view you.
Image source: Felipe Micaroni Lalli via Wikimedia Commons