December 22, 2008

New Google Toolbar plays down PageRank

by Brian Turner

The Google Toolbar on my IE install has just updated – and the PageRank bar has been really shrunk down.

As you can see, that’s a radical shrinkage, and almost certainly is a continuation of Google’s policy to try and diminish how PageRank is used and abused by webmasters.

Interestingly enough, most commercial SEO’s see little importance in PageRank anyway – with the Toolbar PageRank indicator serving no real purpose other than to indicate with a simple graphic an idea of the domain’s link profile.

While a number of people have made a point of chasing “high PageRank” links, as I advised at SMX London in November, an page on an old domain with a low PageRank score will probably pass more link benefit than a new domain with a high PageRank score showing in the toolbar.

Even still, a lot of people remain confused about PageRank – I still read posts on forums where people think the only way to rank for anything is to increase their PageRank score. In fact, I’ve even had people calling themselves SEO’s who claim that PageRank is a major ranking factor.

When it comes to SEO, PageRank scores on the toolbar are not significant, and actually tell you very little about a webpage – as the scoring is often more indicative of the domain than the page. Additionally, the score is usually out of date by around 3 months. Plus PageRank just isn’t a significant factor for ranking purposes these days – maybe 10 years ago, but not now.

Hopefully Google reducing the visibility of the PR bar on the toolbar will help diminish perception of PageRank, as part of a process Google has had on-going for a few years.

Perhaps soon webmasters will focus more on building great sites, and looking at other webpages on their own merits, instead of chasing little green bars which communicate very little if anything of use about a page.

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Story link: New Google Toolbar plays down PageRank


4 Responses to “New Google Toolbar plays down PageRank”

  1. Nirmal on December 23rd, 2008 3:18 pm

    Yes, i also noticed this. One of sites page rank went down to 0 from 6 ;

  2. Matt Inertia on March 30th, 2009 12:53 pm

    Pagerank is still a ranking factor to be concerned about and increasingly so for sites which are targeting competitive keywords. What about the fact that with X amount of pagerank you will only ever have Y amount of pages in the main index?

    “Plus PageRank just isn’t a significant factor for ranking purposes these days – maybe 10 years ago, but not now.”

    - 10 years ago google was still operating out of garage and what made them grow so quickly is their invention – pagerank. It formed the basis of google serps then and is still a big factor in ranking. By playing down pagerank you are playing down links and no-one would argue that links arent important right?

    Of course there are many ranking factors so it is wrong for webmasters to focus purely on the green bar and some of them do this too much. But how about this… you can have a link on my PR9 site (which is totally unrelated to your site) or ill give you a link on my related PR1? Which do you want?

  3. Brian Turner on April 1st, 2009 7:36 pm

    10 years ago Google were already live and running – but they quickly saw how links could be gamed, and had a string of patents filed around that time showing how Google planned to get around the limitations of using only PageRank.

    Also, PageRank really isn’t a factor for competitive keywords – seriously. If you’ve ever worked on major competitive keywords, gaining PageRank isn’t the problem – it’s shaping the page link profile so that the keywords relating to the page are more properly expressed.

    “you can have a link on my PR9 site (which is totally unrelated to your site) or ill give you a link on my related PR1? Which do you want?”

    Good example – chances are your PR9 page is already incapable of passing on PageRank (Google has done this to a swathe of PR9/8 pages already), so only the PR1 had a hope of passing any traditional link benefit.

    The key advantage of the PR9 homepage link would actually be the traffic signature it created that Google could measure from the users clicking through it, and therefore providing a strong enough human user signal that Google could use.

    We’ve seen these PageRank arguments come up for years, but take any reasonably competitive keyword search, use the Googlebar to check the PR values of the pages, and you will never get a consistent drop in PR from the top to bottom position on page 1.

  4. Matt Inertia on April 1st, 2009 8:40 pm

    The difference between a low pagerank link and a high pagerank link is, from my experience, a big one. I’ve work with highly competitive keywords and I understand that pagerank isnt the be all and end all but we both agree that links are important and the page rank of those links is also important?

    It is still highly important in terms of how many pages hit the supplemental as well.

    Interesting point about the traffic signature. Are you saying that clickthroughs are used and are a big factor in rankings?

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