Semalt: Does Google Rank WebPages Or Websites?
This is a question that gets thrown around a lot in the world of SEO. Many discuss and debate the answer to this question, and knowing the answer to this question answers many other questions about SEO.
The answer is that Google ranks web pages and not websites.
In this article, we will tell you an SEO fact that will change the way you approach SEO. This fact will answer so many questions you have that this article alone wouldn't be enough to give you the full content.
We are certain that not everyone agrees with our answer above. Even in our team, we have experts that are still in limbo when it comes to answering the question that brought you here. However, this article is written to help make up your mind.
Google Ranks Webpages
Do not take just our word for it; even John Muller of Google agrees with us on this. And there are several other SEO influencers who have agreed on this subject. Once you understand and agree with this, it becomes significantly simpler to manage SEO strategies and implementation. One thing we've noticed is that when generalizing, SEO experts do not often give their all to every webpage. After all, it's easy to say that a very good webpage covers up for the bad ones. However, when we treat each page as a unique and important entity, we give our best to every page, which ensures that every webpage ranks high.
Answering the question is also important as it puts an end to many of the debates we've faced both in-house and externally for years.
What does it really mean?
There is really no need to give long sentences and overcomplicate our answer. Instead, let's dive into how this answer ruffles some feathers and get some SEO professionals on their feet.
By the statement " Google ranks web pages and not websites," what we mean is that Google's bots crawl and index each webpage like an independent entity, a self-contained ecosystem of content, links, and lines of code.
While other pages may influence that ecosystem, Google isn't bothered about the position of any webpage on the website. Therefore, as long as ranking and indexing are concerned, a webpage can exist on any domain and still be treated the same way by Google.
So why do some SEO pros disagree with this chain of thought?
Many SEO pros find this hard to swallow because it challenges many concepts that govern their service. It is important for people to believe in the validity of such concepts as their entire businesses have been built on said concepts. But we won't be focusing on this aspect of the story.
Instead, we will focus on how this knowledge explains so much on how we understand how Google ranking works. As experts, we've had to use the phrases "on-page" and "off-page" SEO or "Technical SEO" so many times. So let's break these phrases down into the three areas we use in our SEO audits, Content webpage design and Link building (Authority).
While we were brainstorming this article and the answer to the elephant in the room, we were forced to ask another critical question "since Google ranks webpages, does the same apply to the content area of SEO?" for example, will blogging about different topics on individual pages of a blog harm its ranking. Even the best SEO professionals in the world ask similar questions.
Quite often, you come across some of the best examples of why blogging or creating content about different articles won't damage your Google ranking. Some of our clients have come with concerns as to why or if it is even possible for dozens of topics to exist on the same domain living in harmony without damaging each other.
This is where we point out that Google ranks webpages and not websites.
If you consider it for a moment, we wouldn't want the fate of our webpages to be determined by a single topic for the entire website.
Ahrefs Joshua Hardwick once explained that just because a business is known to make stained window glasses doesn't mean that every webpage on its website must rank for "stained window glasses."
As professionals who have been in the SEO game for a good length of time, we've gotten familiar with the term "subdomain versus subfolder" we've debated this over and over again. These debates is one of the reasons why Semalt is so effective; different well thought out opinions that contribute to making our firm not only effective but fun. Back to business, the "subdomain versus subfolder" argument always bubbles to the top of SEO discussions once every few years. And whenever it does, Google clarifies that it doesn't matter.
Why doesn't it matter?
That is because Google ranks webpages and not websites. That enables webpages to exist on either a subdomain or a subfolder, and Google will crawl and index them the same way. Best believe that you do not want to live in a world where a mistake or error on one page "deranks" your entire website.
For instance, you must have experienced a slow loading page or a 404 error on one of your pages. If you notice that problem is isolated to just that page and doesn't drag down the entire website.
Content Hubs is a popular and one of the most effective SEO strategies around today. It is also known as the Pullar Cluster Model, which is based on the idea of creating a "pillar" or "hub" topic that links to other subpages or "cluster" of other subtopics that provide more details on the pillar content.
One of the reasons why this strategy is so effective is because it is an easy method of passing the acquired authority from inbound links on the main topic hubs to the subtopics or vice versa.
And guess why this works so well your right, webpages not website.
Although internal links do not always carry as much authority as external links, they can carry a significant amount of authority especially because Google sees them all as individual pages with authority. Occasionally we see someone claim that using this content strategy also helps create "Topical authority" for the entire website; however, since we understand webpage, not the website, it's difficult to say that such a claim is true.
This leads on to discuss the overall authority of a website or domain. While a number of SEO tool companies have made a name for themselves pushing the concept, Google itself stands to say that it isn't true. You may be wondering: if the website wide metric is nonexistent, why do spammy link building sites work so well? Well, the answer is: they do not work.
Parasite hosting, as we call it, is when link builders sell a link from content that is buried in a well-known and mostly educational website. However, the only way to measure if this hack is effective is with domain-level authority metrics, which is influenced by other domains that already have a high domain level metric. So the result seen isn't actually ranking changes.
Our concept of webpages and not websites reveals the entire sub-economy of the SEO trade, which debunks the utterly untrue concept which other SEO experts use to give substandard results. We encourage you not to waste your hard-earned money by investing in trying to change a metric that is valuable only to people trying to sell false metrics to others.
Occam's Razor is often quoted by many SEO communities in an attempt to defend why their unsubstantiated theory based on insufficient data and less than excellent statistics proves the existence of a ranking signal which is based on the collective behaviors of webpages in a website. The simplest explanation isn't always the right one.
And to defend their allegations that "the simplest explanation is usually the right one," there is also a simpler explanation as to why SEO experts as Semalt should focus on webpages, not websites. We are not the first to say that webpages are what get ranked and not websites, and we are certain that we wouldn't be the last.
Hopefully, now you understand why we agree with Google on this topic. And even if you don't, there is really no harm in focusing on the webpage, not the website. Like we like to say, the best website is as a result of paying attention to the granular details. Websites are made from webpages, so to have a great website, you need excellent webpages. So either way, focusing on your webpages is a win, whether you believe it or not.