It appears that ChicagoNow.com is off to a great start in regards to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The first indication as to how well Google 'likes' the new site was shown yesterday morning when the Google Toolbar PageRank was assigned for the first time to ChicagoNow.
What was ChicagoNow's score? A PageRank 7 out of 10.
But let's step back a little and explain what this means.
Google ranks pages via a very complex (and secret) algorithm which takes into consideration hundreds of factors. These factors collectively create an overall PageRank score.
This score is only shared with the public via the Google Toolbar and only shared on a scale of 1 to 10 (despite there being considerably greater levels of granularity within the scale). While it is far from the most important SEO metric such as revenue, goal conversion, traffic or even specific keyphrase rankings, it does provide an overall SEO health indicator for a site, and we discovered this morning that ChicagoNow is quite healthy in regards to SEO!
Why is a PageRank score of 7 out of 10 impressive?
Well, first off, it's the highest initial PageRank score in the history of Tribune Company. Keep in mind this includes such sites as latimes.com, chicagotribune.com, KTLA.com and other major online destinations.
Secondly, it would normally take years for a site to gain a PageRank score this high and we've managed to accomplish it in a matter of weeks on ChicagoNow.
To help exemplify, take a look at the PageRank score of some other well known Chicago and national media sites:
So why is ChicagoNow.com a PageRank 7 in just a few weeks?
I've always mentioned to bloggers (and potential bloggers) that the power of the Tribune network should not be underestimated. Why? Because when quality content is created on ChicagoNow and that content is then linked to from other sites within the Tribune network it creates a significant vote of confidence for the ChicagoNow content.
Furthermore, I've been working with a handful of blogs who have a strong grasp on SEO to import their old blog posts to ChicagoNow. These blogs then redirected the traffic from the old URL to the new URL on ChicagoNow.
This creates a synergy between the PageRank of the old site with that of ChicagoNow. This helps not only the blog post and individual blog on ChicagoNow to garner more PageRank, but also ChicagoNow itself.
The blogger receives a benefit also because it helps create additional traffic to the post from search engines as well as additional traffic from natural users of the ChicagoNow site. Most importantly, the users have a single destination to enjoy the quality content of the blogger.
Bluntly, everybody wins!
So how do we get to a PageRank 10 like CNN?
We need to keep doing what we are doing. Keep creating quality content that the public wants to read and link to from throughout the internet.
These links are the 'votes' that Google looks for to help determine the popularity, authority and relevance of a site. Plus these links are a powerful factor in creating PageRank strength for a website.
We need to continue to harness the strength of the blogs within the network. Each blog on ChicagoNow that had a destination previously should continue to work with us to couple the PageRank strength the blog gained before ChicagoNow with the strength of the Tribune network and the strength of the other blogs on ChicagoNow.
Keep up the great work! We are clearly off to a strong start.