Balance Returns to PageRank Force. Avoid The Dark Side.
Strong am I with the force. – The dark side are they. 

① A G+edi's strength flows from the Force.
② When you look at the dark side, careful you must be.
③ For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.
④ Is PageRank only one of 200+ ranking factors?
⑤ There are many other important search ranking factors.
⑥ PageRank even has other applications in science.
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Part 6, of +Joshua Berg's Google+ PageRank Series.
If new to this series I suggest you read Part 1-5 at the bottom.
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If this series helps you please share it! As I explain why teaching your network about quality content improves yours.
Also welcome to follow real estate marketing at +HousesFast 
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① A G+edi's strength flows from the Force.
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But beware of the dark side… consume you it will.

    While the positive force of PageRank is very powerful, I want to caution you against some of the gaming that has plagued PR in the past which you can be sure Google will continue to be wary of. Falling to such temptations could potentially consume the PageRank you’ve worked so hard to get.

    So far we have been talking mostly about PageRank, but it is not alone & certainly not the only important algorithm Google considers. There are many other important factors involved in deciding Search Engine Ranking Positions (SERP) as well. Specifically there are several active algorithms which penalize websites that may be over optimizing, or not following best practices.

    PageRank worked very well for a long time, but people figured out how to game it to increase their PR artificially. Link farms, link circles, buying and selling links, automated submission software to newsgroups & forums, sprang up everywhere. Keyword only links became epidemic and a tangled World Wide Web was weaved.

    As the web evolved into a keyword obstacle course the corruption of PR became inevitable. The PR Toolbar as an indicator came to be regarded as more of a parody than a useful tool. For this reason many seasoned web developers still cringe when talking about PR. It wasn't long before more drastic measures were needed.

    Then, a child was born, the force was strong with this one. Much training given he was, by his Master who understood the ways of the force - for he was there “in the beginning”, before the garden was corrupted through temptation – and believed that this young warrior could once again bring balance to the force. Faced with this challenge the young warrior said, “I’ll give it a try.” Master firmly replied, “No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”

    The young warrior lead a team of fearsome rebels who came to be known as the Webspam team. [mattcutts.com] Tasked with this overwhelming challenge against the dark side (aka. the black hats), they conceived of a beast so terrible it could at will, lower the rank of "low-quality sites" and return higher-quality sites to the top of search results. It was unleashed on February 23, 2011, [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Panda] and was just the first of several apocalyptic beasts and their descendants that followed, including Penguin on April 24, 2012 [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Penguin].

    From the power of these beasts and the fearsome rebel warriors, much evil purged there was. The force once again returned to balance and a powerful positive influence throughout the universe (web). ;-)


② When you look at the dark side, careful you must be.
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Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will.

    Black Hat SEO refers to the use of aggressive SEO strategies, techniques and tactics that focus only on search engines and not a human audience, and usually do not obey search engine rules. Some examples of black hat SEO techniques include keyword stuffing, invisible text, redirects, spoofing, doorway pages & cloaking.  For more read [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization#White_hat_versus_black_hat_techniques]

    With the Panda, Penguin & related Google algorithms, many of these techniques are no longer successful as sites will quickly get banned, or penalized by Google. As we are talking more about Google+, we will not go further in depth on black hat history and techniques, but there are other problems rising in social media which we should discuss.

    Other dark forces have developed, which although they do not fit the traditional model of black hat, they certainly do not provide a good user experience. Google has gone after some of these and others may yet follow. In fact compared with some social networks that have tightened up a great deal, G+ has been a pretty wide open field for promoting ones business & finding lots of people to easily follow, but you can bet your bottom dollar we will see more limits in the near future.

    These include plain spamming, but some just bad habits:

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Trolling: is a common and nasty problem, which involves users posting inflammatory, or off topic posts, with the intent of provoking users to a strong emotional response that often ends up receiving long comment threads & high activity. That in turn fools search engines into thinking those are content rich & relevant threads related to that topic & they may get high ranking for exactly the wrong reason. [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_%28Internet%29] Being that this corrupts search & the user experience, you can imagine that Google will be working on this one. Maybe they will start using some negative word pattern recognition algos, which are already in use for some purposes these days, if they are not already.

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Hoaxes: can be a big problem & we’ve started seeing more of it in G+, but not epidemic as it is in Facebook. In fact there are several websites devoted solely to discrediting hoaxes [snopes.com] and I sincerely hope more people will use them before filling our networks and bandwidth with such garbage.

They often involve promising a dollar will be given to charity, or some sick baby type of ideas for every share, or like. They claim all manner of outlandish tales, abuses and discoveries, but always something that targets a readers good nature to spread the falsity.

Sometimes these hoaxes are perpetrated to artificially increase PR, but other times people just do it for kicks. Within G+ we’ve already seen some profiles, or pages getting very high results & shares, by introducing some “incredible facts” that when researched a little sometimes turn out to be quite false.

Bottom line, please take a minute to verify outlandish claims before sharing.

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Junk content: Link dropping in communities, where people do not even bother to write an introduction & explain why they want to share this. I think FarmVille cash is more valuable than most of the content spread like this. In general people do not comment, or engage this content. If it’s not worth talking about, it’s probably not worth sharing.

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G+ Community vulnerabilities: which there are some (as the system is still developing), is one of the areas that we see more spam problems happening. [Note: Google is doing very well with introducing excellent spam filters that are getting better all the time.]

People have also figured out that there can be some SEO value & quick return in developing certain kinds of junk G+ Communities to get in and out of there high SERPs.

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Excessive invitations & notifications to worthless content, or empty communities. By the way, Googlers do not take kindly to getting personal notifications to non notable posts, most will just mute, which means they won’t hear you again either. Getting blocked, or muted by too many people will certainly be a red flag.

Excessive  random circle sharing solely for the purpose of getting many (though irrelevant) followers, following many irrelevant profiles. These will not help your PR, or SERP’s anyway & you can expect to see your daily following limits squeezed.

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    There are other things I've left out, but that's the main ones. Some research on social media netiquette is a good place to continue on this subject & this excellent post I read the other day, by Ahmed Zeeshan:  [plus.google.com/+AhmedZeeshan/posts/d8xzaADQpv8]. Also another good one: [www.albion.com/netiquette/corerules.html]


③ For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.
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Quality and engaging content create a good user experience.

"Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you?  Hmm?  Hmm.  And well you should not.  For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is".

    Now let’s talk about how we get good PR and remember, high PR is a result of good quality networking, not the other way around. If you follow the core Google principles, you will achieve good ranking. [google.com/about/company/philosophy] I talk about this more later, #1 Focus on the user and all else will follow.

    Building thought leadership is at the highest level of these positive forces. Within G+ you will see most of the high PR & highly followed profiles, fall into this category. The term was first coined by Joel Kurtzman in 1994 [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_leader] ”Typically thought leaders have proven themselves in the business, academic or political sphere through successful implementation of their ideas. Thought leaders often publish articles and blog posts on trends and topics influencing an industry or directed internal to an organisation. Through effective communication and clarity of purpose, they effect change and are considered exemplary leaders.” I also highly recommend this presentation which I believe is by Kunle T Campbell on Apr 03, 2013: [slideshare.net/AnthonyCampbell/building-thought-leadership-beyond-seo]

    Another one has been called Opinion Leadership, which also includes some of the ideas above. [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_leadership] ”Leadership by an active media user who interprets the meaning of media messages or content for lower-end media users. Typically the opinion leader is held in high esteem by those who accept his or her opinions."

    Oh, in case you were wondering, +1’s and number of followers do not directly improve your PR. There, said it! PR is a link based metric, so you naturally have to have a cross link engagement, which occurs when someone shares your post, tags (+mentions) you in a post (especially above the fold), or even mentions your +profile in an external blog, or forum. Anywhere your G+ profile is mentioned publicly throughout the web & (currently presuming) also your G+ authorship snippets on your own articles wherever they may be written.

    How do you write engaging content, something that will likely get shared? Martin Shervington wrote an excellent article about this recently, [martinshervington.com/applying-the-psychology-of-sharing-on-google-plus-video] and here’s a brief excerpt:

"Let’s consider the process that occurs in mind when someone shares… 1. The notification box lights up. 2. You click. 3. You see someone has ‘shared’ your post. 4. Assuming your attention is present during the action, you experience ‘something in mind’ e.g. you re-cognize their name, or it could be someone new. 5. This could trigger an emotion e.g. a positive lift as you enjoy seeing the share; if you know them, it could be visual image of the person, leading to a string of related thoughts about them specifically; or it could lead to a string of connections across several posts that connect up dots in the relationship story etc." Also see his excellent series on “Commoogling:” [martinshervington.com/google-plus-commoogling-video-series-overview]

    This topic would not be complete without mentioning GPC’s (G+ Communities), which can be a tremendous source (and force) to find and network with like minded and engaging individuals within your own field & localities. Let me caution you though, if you’re going there just for link dumping they’re probably not going to allow it (sorry, I already let the cat out of the bag on that one), but it just gives you a bad reputation to start with, which is never good. Ask what people there want, what you can contribute (no soapbox posting please), ask questions, give answers. You can start by commenting applicably on other people’s posts, you won’t go wrong with that.


④ Is PageRank only one of 200+ ranking factors?
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    Some feel that PR is not that important considering comments Google has made including the following: 

    We only update the PageRank displayed in Google Toolbar a few times a year; this is our respectful hint for you to worry less about PageRank, which is just one of over 200 signals that can affect how your site is crawled, indexed and ranked.

    The whole idea of PageRank, is that it’s supposed to work naturally. So the concept of “worrying about it” as though it were something to be fixed is anathema to its legitimacy. Over and over again, Google representatives stress that it’s about “user experience,” If you don’t get that, read the company philosophy #1 Focus on the user and all else will follow. Since the beginning, we’ve focused on providing the best user experience possible. [google.com/about/company/philosophy/]

    High PR properly earned, should be an award that shows you are providing that “user experience”. We’re talking about it so you can learn how to give users what they are looking for & avoid those who are not. 

    That said, let’s look at that statement a little closer… It is talking about the “Google Toolbar” (aka. PR Toolbar) itself, but also the concept of it as a metric which you need to worry about fixing, or improving. Back to rule #1 Focus on the user and all else will follow. In the broader discussion, which is what this series is all about, we are talking about the active PR algorithm which is only sampled for the PR Toolbar, but is far more complex than you can imagine.

    Back to the 200+ factors. While Google's algorithms are highly confidential and they will not say what those 200+ factors are, SEOMOZ once put together a long list of many of the factors polled from SEO experts across the web. You can read them here: [performancemediaplacement.com/Google-Ranking-Factors.asp]

Most of these can be broken down into the following:
    1. Positive on-page SEO factors.
    2. Negative on-page SEO factors.
    3. Positive off-page SEO factors.
    4. Negative off-page SEO factors.

    Most of the factors external to one's own site have something to do with PageRank, namely all of the factors relating to external links, but also all internal, as well as all outbound links. The quality (authority) of those links, the hierarchy, the quantity, the diversity, the similarity, dissimilarity, the hyperlinked keywords, the surrounding content and the list goes on to a good hundred points.

    So PageRank involves many algorithms & is also affected by many. It is not a single stand along factor, or just another Google update. It is the foundational concept of link authority distribution based on the principle of citations, upon which the original Google Search was built.

    Now specifically on the topic of PR in G+, which I have been writing a lot about, let's consider that list of 200 factors one more time and then ask, how important are the PageRank related factors with “all other things being equal?” In Google+, most of the other factors relating to the sites structure, speed, location, coding, etc. are all removed, because all profiles and pages are uniformly created. Then how will G+ automate the ranking of authors content (at least that content for which there are not other clear indicators)? And while it is not the only answer, I will say it proportionately (if not by default) becomes the biggest factor.

    Having said that and IMHO, I personally believe PR in Google+ is the highest evolved & perfected development of it ever. If you look at the recent history, you will see Google is hard at work cleaning up PR, with Penguin (Panda somewhat) among others & is absolutely not phasing it out.

    Anyone wishing to know more about PR and its significance, or insignificance, should start by reading here: [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank].


⑤ There are many other important search ranking factors.
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    I’ve said this earlier, but wish to emphasize it again… PageRank is not the only and sometimes not even the most important factor of search ranking. There are numerous other algorithms involved and important SEO factors which we have not yet discussed. But just so you know & I know that you know, we are all aware that they are there and I will pick up on other factors & algos in articles following.


⑥ PageRank even has other applications in science.
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    Interestingly PR is now also being applied in other scientific fields. Some new articles about it include:

Internet, Mobile Phone Models Provide Insight on Cancer's Progression.

For the study, researchers adapted models created by Google and Qualcomm co-founder Andrew Viterbi:

Google's PageRank algorithm examines the density of website links to predict which sites are most likely to contain pertinent information.
[ihealthbeat.org/articles/2013/3/28/internet-mobile-phone-models-provide-insight-on-cancers-progression.aspx]

Google PageRank algorithm used in tool to model interactions between molecules.
[theverge.com/2012/2/15/2800991/google-pagerank-chemistry-molecularnetworks]


★★★★★ Lastly & importantly, please SHARE this post!
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There's just too much good stuff here to keep to yourself.

Those that share this series, will also be added to my top circle that I fondly call, My Favorite Sharers & Engagers. From time to time I'll be sharing & promoting this circle of my favorite engaging users as well.


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Pt 1: Is Google+ Page Rank the culprit behind the current ... http://goo.gl/R4TZM

Pt 2: How PageRank in Google+ is Earned. G+ Link Myths...
http://goo.gl/0YcDp

Pt 3: Why PR in G+ Matters To You & Your Connections.
http://goo.gl/zHKhx

Pt 4: PR in G+ - PageRank is Still Guts of Google Search.
http://goo.gl/uMcuo

Pt 5: PageRank, Link Juice & SEO for Google+ Communities.
http://goo.gl/ViToc

Pt 6: Balance Returns to PageRank. Avoid The Dark Side.
http://goo.gl/N0xhD

[Update: HOA PageRank - Executive Summary video.]
http://goo.gl/vOUhE (with Mark Traphagen & Ronnie Bincer)

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My disclaimers...
Some things I write (ie. PR) are facts well known among SEO experts, others are just ideas & opposing theories are all welcome below.
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#pagerank #googlepagerank #Gplusseo #seotips     #googleplusseo #searchengineoptimization #searchrankings  
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