SEO

Google PageRank Update: What it Really Means

It’s confirmed, Google just launched a new PageRank update. We’ve been expecting one in January and now virtually everyone is excited about their improvements or fretting their losses.

There are many misconceptions about PageRank updates, so here’s the skinny on the updates:

  1. This is actually old data. It’s reflective of what Google gave your site at a given moment in time a while ago. It’s basically a ‘snapshot’, as Adam Lasnik from Google once described it to me. We know these updates typically contain data that has already been incorporated into scoring “a while ago”, according to Matt’s post, “What’s an update?”.
  2. Your PageRank probably won’t change again until the next update comes out. It will take a few days for the updates to populate across all the Google servers and stabilize, and once that happens, your PageRank won’t change until the next update comes out. Remember, it’s a ‘snapshot’, not real-time. We’ll probably see another update next quarter. So, instead of checking your PageRank everyday, spend that time getting quality links and writing great content for your website.
  3. You won’t see an instant lift/drop in traffic as a result of your new PageRank score. When this update came out I had clients thinking maybe we’ll see a lift in traffic. Nope. Not happening, not as the result of this data. Remember, it’s not really new data. This means you’ve already been reaping the rewards of this new lift, or already suffering from your PR drops. Need proof? Read the first line, second paragraph of Matt’s post
  4. This is not reflective of anything that has happened since this “snapshot” was taken. If you had a link building campaign that started in late November/December and has been wildly successful, it’s likely not reflected in this update, no matter how successful the campaign. Most likely the ‘snapshot’ was taken prior to your links being added. So manage expectations of your boss and clients.

There are very good uses for PageRank, but it’s not something to check on a daily basis; unless an update is coming, which happens about once a quarter.

Here’s a few of the things you can you do with Google’s PageRank:

  1. Use it as a trend line. It’s an essence a signpost, indicating if you’re on the right track in the eyes of Google.
  2. Compare your site to others. I use it as an apples-to-apples trust/authority measurement, and compare my site/page with another site/page. However, just because one site’s PageRank is higher than another, doesn’t mean the higher one will outrank the other. PageRank is just one element of Google’s ranking algorithm, so it’s just one of the elements I consider.
  3. Use it to prioritize your link requests. I use it as an indicator of which site’s link may give a bigger bang. Again, it’s just one of the elements I consider.
  4. Turn it off, meaning ignore it. I definitely subscribe to the ignore it and will go up methodology. Your PageRank will go up as long as you build a fabulous site that is search engine friendly, user friendly, well optimized, gets links consistently and is useful enough for people to recommend on their own.

What I personally think about PageRank: Forgetaboutit.
Don’t worry about it. Just build a great site and do great SEO. When I started SEO I was working on a site that had a 0/10 PageRank. We quickly went to a 2/10 and sat there for a while. Then, the company made me delete the Google Toolbar; something about it not being ‘standard’ and ‘compliant’. So, I couldn’t see our PageRank and forgot about it. Two years later at a conference someone said, “You have a PageRank 9/10. That’s unheard of.” I just smiled and said ‘I know’, then made a mad dash for the nearest computer to see for myself! The point isn’t that our site had a PR 9/10, it’s that I paid no attention to PageRank for two years, we just made the best site we could and did massive SEO, without thinking about our PageRank score. Our rankings were awesome, traffic was up and in time our Google PageRank increased as a result. All of the time that our competition probably spent chatting about PageRank, we spent doing SEO. Imagine the hours ahead that made us.

By the end of next week, be sure to log your new PageRank for trending purposes. Then, don’t worry about it until the next one comes out. Forget about how to boost your PageRank, it will happen when you do great SEO.

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Jessica Bowman is the Director of SEO for Business.com and an independent consultant. Her background includes managing nine websites, in four languages across North America and Europe, in the competitive travel industry. Most known for being an in-house search marketer, Jessica relishes in the human side of SEO; the art of getting things done within an organization, a challenge for most search marketers.

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10 thoughts on “Google PageRank Update: What it Really Means

  1. Hmm. Never thought about that before. I suppose some people once reaching a certain page rank will “ease off” because they’ve accomplished the rank they want. Without checking it though, you’d continuously work on it and wouldn’t waste time checking all your pages =P

  2. That’s a great post Jessica. Love the part about taking your eye off the PR — for two years! Sure wish PR was a metric all us SEOs could count on… I get a little tired of having to give the same explanations (all the ones you cited) over and over again to people.

  3. I realised the unimportance of PageRank when I realised that I had PageRank 4 for my blog…
    Now, I like to think that it is a good blog, but it has very few incoming links and still very little content.

    I am still not sure how I ended up with my PageRank, not that I am complaining.

  4. It is a thumb rule for most of us in our day to day life that if you run behind a particular thing then you lose. I f you stop thinking of that thing and keep your focus on other important and beneficial things you will et what you have not even thought of.

  5. Really what matters most in the end is the actual visitors to your site. How many do you have? Are they human? What do they do when they get there?

    However, when you have a high pagerank site, people take notice. There is no doubt about it.