PageRank isn’t as important a metric as it used to be and certainly not something to obsess over. However, it is still a decent indicator of the authority of a website, and should be taken into consideration when conduction an off-page SEO audit.
There are two kinds of PageRank: one that you see on Google’s Toolbar that isn’t updated very frequently (if ever) and the other PageRank that Google assigns to every page. Even though the toolbar PageRank is kind of randomly updated by Google it is still the only way you can look at any given site’s PageRank. It is a rough indicator of the authority of a site especially when you’re doing a link or site audit.
As an example, all things being equal, a site with a PageRank 7 will generally rank better than site with PageRank of 5 for almost all queries (though PageRank is only one of hundreds of signals Google looks at to determine where sites rank). The easiest way to do that is download Google’s Toolbar and check the PageRank option.
Number of Links
Number of links from other sites pointing to a site (inbound links) is an important metric. Along with the quantity of links pointing to a site you should also look at other variables like sites linking to a website in it’s industry, sites with high PageRank, and the relevance of the link.
With all the recent algorithmic updates it is critical that you look for quality of links as opposed to quantity of links. There are a couple of ways to check this metric: manual and using tools. If doing a manual check then use link:www.yourdomain.com –yourdomain.com; or use tools like MajesticSEO or Open Site Explorer.
Anchor Text Distribution
Anchor text basically means the clickable words that send users to a linked page or website. There are number of ways you can optimize it and make it more descriptive.
So instead of linking the word “Click here”, for example, you can use a more descriptive way to describe to users where the link will take them. Bots also use anchor text to help determine relevancy and have over the years placed importance to it. That would not be the only way for you to rank better but definitely helps in the grand scheme of optimization.
While conducting the link audit you can use tools like MajesticSEO and Open Site Explorer, another good one is Advanced Web Ranking – but this is paid. One I like to use for this is Link Detective which gives you nice charts and %.
It is however important to not over-optimise the anchor text by using only the ‘money’ keywords, and instead have a mix of branded, target, and natural anchor text.
If questionable websites are linking to a site, then that site may also come under scrutiny.
Links coming from questionable sites including paid links, article directory sites are now devalued as well. While conducting the audit it is important you run a report by using tools like Bad Neighborhood link checker or Majestic SEO tool.
Competitive Link Analysis
It is recommended to look at the competitor’s link acquisition strategy over time and also who links to them.
This is not only a great way to find potential link targets, but also tells you how you quickly you need to ramp up the link building. There is apparently a good chart on Majestic SEO where they plot out cumulative link acquisition of your competitor over time.