Discussions around Google’s PageRank update came about after SEO blogger Bill Slawski published an article noting that Google updated a patent related to PageRank; an algorithm within Google that influences how sites are ranked above or below one another.

PageRank works by counting both the number and the quality of links pointing to a page in order to determine how valuable that page is. A greater number of higher quality links would suggest that the page offers worth to the user.

So what has changed?

The new patent, in simple terms, effectively makes it easier for PageRank to determine niches within the search market. It means that it can reward sites that have links from high quality domains within that specialism, rather than just generically high authority terms.

For example, a leading photography site may have an overall lower level of authority than the BBC, but may actually be a more authoritative source of information on the subject of digital cameras. The update in the patent makes it easier for PageRank to reflect this.

The update also seems to make it easier for PageRank to calculate the ‘distance’ between sites. The means that those pages that link to the most authoritative domain via the shortest path may be seen as more trusted.

So what does this mean for SEO?

In truth, it doesn’t mean an awful lot to the way in which you go about organic search marketing. And there are a number of reasons why.

For starters, it is important to remember that this is a patent update, not an algorithm update. Google and it’s companies have frequently filed patents that they don’t then go on to use. There is little to suggest that, at the time of writing, there has been any fundamental change to the way in which Google’s algorithm is working in relation to this.

Secondly, this update still doesn’t change the fundamentals of good SEO. PageRank was perhaps at its most relevant during the “links = votes” era of search engine optimisation, where brands could easily game the system. When Panda and Penguin came along to respectively improve standards in content and link footprint, the game changed.

PageRank still plays a role in Google, although it is very different to the one it played several years ago. Google killed-off the Toolbar PageRank scores (which ranked a page from 0-10) in 2016, and its importance is largely downplayed.

Instead, it comes down to ensuring that you keep doing the core principles right. That means technical optimisation, good quality content that serves a need, and delivering the best possible user experience.

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In 2017 we saw a number of key developments in search that reshaped the way in which many brands are approach SEO in 2018. These developments and trends are dramatically influencing user behaviour, what they demand and expect from search engines and how they engage with brands.

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We’ll discuss:

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