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The death of PageRank?

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Friday October 16, 2009 )

The PageRank feature in Google Webmaster tools was recently removed. It seems that Google wants webmasters focusing more on other issues rather than being fixated on PageRank scores. Whether it will be removed from the Google toolbar and when is unknown.

Nowadays Google is only updating the PageRank displayed in Google Toolbar a few times a year. According to this FAQ, it’s Google’s way of telling us to worry less about PageRank, which the company says is just one of hundreds of flags that affect site ranking.

But if it is removed from public view, it doesn’t mean it won’t still play a role a ranking.

The problem (and great thing) about PageRank is it is a useful tool for SEO folks; not just for gauging how a site you’re working on is doing, but who to target for inbound links. Much to Google’s frustration, a whole industry was built up around selling links based on PageRank scores.

The display of PageRank has also been little unfair in other ways.

Let’s say that site X and Y cover the same topic; but site Y does it better – yet site X, for whatever reason, has the higher PageRank. Site X is then the more coveted site in the eyes of some advertisers, particularly for straight-through text links. Site X would also get more approaches from merchants offering free goodies and such in the hope of getting a review. I know this to be a fact as it happened to me when TTB went to PR7 a few years back (nowadays it’s a PR5). It was like a tap was switched on.

A part of optimization is also linking *out* to quality sites. While I’m not saying the following is necessarily correct, using the above example of site X and Y, some site owners would consider that site X would be the better site to link to for PR reasons; and also in the hope of getting site X to link back to them. This then underpins and perpetuates site X’s PageRank, while the site that is of better quality languishes.

I certainly don’t watch PageRank like I used to, but I still look at it when visiting sites as one indicator among many. I will have mixed feelings about it PageRank being removed from the toolbar if it should occur, but it would probably make for a more level playing field.


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