PageRank Sculpting: Why Your Home Page has Low PR
I’ve seen this a bunch recently, so when I saw this on Twitter tonight, I was curious what was up:
I have a great new tool that spiders sites and helps understand what’s up with on-site PageRank flow. It’s A1 Website Analyzer (free full-featured 30-day trial download), from Microsys Tools. I’ve used Xenu and other spider tools in the past, but what sets this tool apart is their on-site PageRank simulator. This is a GREAT asset for understanding where PageRank is going and how to make it flow better.
So I clicked through to the Twitter user’s profile, then to his web site, and ran A1 Website Analyzer on it. Took about 6 minutes, just long enough to fetch a tasty beverage.
If we click over to the results, we can see an “Importance” column and an “I. Scaled” column, which is like on-site PageRank (max=10). Here’s what we see for this site:
Sure enough, a sub-page (the blog) is higher than the home page in “PageRank”. No good. What’s causing this? Normally, the home page of a site is extensively linked, and gets more PageRank than other pages on the site.
The site analyzer provides a “linked by” tab, showing that the home page is only linked by 4 pages on the site. This is clearly a problem! I checked other pages for rel=”nofollow”, and that wasn’t the problem, then checked robots.txt to see if it was set up wrong, but it wasn’t there at all. So, what was up?
It turned out to be the classic “www.sitename.com” vs. “sitename.com”. Most links to this homepage were to “sitename.com”, but the blog template had it as “www.sitename.com”.
This usually has the effect of splitting PageRank between two pages, which is almost never what site owners want. There are a few solutions:
- (best) Only use one version of the home page link, either with or without “www.”
- (good) Use .htaccess to redirect to the correct URL
- (not really ideal) Tell Google (and other search engines, ideally) that you have a preferred domain. If you set up Webmaster Tools, you can do this
In this case, looking at www.sitename.com actually redirected to sitename.com, but PageRank wasn’t flowing right according to the site analyzer. What was causing that? A 302 redirect. Looking at the output of this command:
get -edS http://www.sitename.com/
I got these headers back:
GET http://www.sitename.com/ --> 302 Moved Temporarily GET http://sitename.com/ --> 200 OK
This kind of redirect is “weak” and doesn’t cause PageRank to accumulate on the destination URL, causing problems. This site needs to do both solutions 1 and 2 above to make sure things work out right.
I hope this helps you with your own site and making sure your most important pages get the highest on-site PageRank!