Goodbye Google PageRank?

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There is currently a debate going on right now about Google removing the PageRank score from the Google Toolbar.

Why?

  • Toolbar PageRank numbers can be 3 months out of date or more.
  • Some “PR Updates” have been buggy enough to seriously misrepresent a page’s real PR.
  • Matt Cutts has blogged that PR Updates are considered pretty much a non-event around Google.
  • PageRank has started a flawed econonmy of link building and trading in an effort to raise or distribute these scores.

Unlike a lot of the rants which go on in forum threads, it seems that Google is keeping an eye on this one and taking it seriously.

Search Engine Roundtable notes that Adam Lasnk of Google has joined the discussion and is looking for feedback and alternative information which Google could serve.

PageRank is an important signal and remains one of many effective measures of quality, but admittedly it’s often viewed and used/abused in ways that run contrary to the interests of searchers and webmasters. Still, a lot of folks find the PR information useful; it provides a great incentive to try out our toolbar and explore its other features as well.

Given that many of you aren’t so fond of PR info in the toolbar, I’d love to know what feature you woudl like to see.

Mandatory criteria:

  • Would have to provide actionable info for webmasters
  • Would need to be useful and interesting for the ~99.9% of users who aren’t webmasters

Yep, a lot of search marketers & webmasters tend to forget that unlike Alexa, Google Toolbar was not made specifically for them.

Perhaps Google should release a toolbar only for Google Webmaster Tools users, or should the company leave such tweaking up to Greasemonkey? You be the judge!

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • http://www.ericlander.com Eric Lander

    This would be huge, both in saving SEO’s time for explaining things… as well as helping to remove one of the most overhyped aspects of rankings.

    I’m all for it disappearing.

  • http://www.derrich.com/ Derrich

    I suppose I’m indifferent on that decision. The only thing I really use my PR for is to qualify for paid reviews.

  • http://www.ginside.com/ Jonathan

    This would definitely shake up the industry quite a bit. Eric makes some very good points that I agree with. It would cause a lot less headache and “strength hoarding” in the industry of SEO.

    I know, at the end of the day, Google will make the right choice.

  • http://www.palatnikfactor.com Pablo Palatnik

    I think the pagerank in the tool bar would be great if it was actually effective in what is measured…I think it does give you an idea about certain sites or blogs in certain aspects but those first key points in this post are good points.

  • http://dllcity.com DLL Files Dude

    Nooooo…. I’ve been watching PR waiting for it to update for 1+month. Been reading everywhere? Currently new pages from Aug till now have been given a PR 0 that has replaced the Na/ PR I’ve got a site with 50+ Quality Inbound links that has a PR of Nada. However I think PR sucks. It is not a valid bar at which to measure quality of websites. Alexa Rank is much more valid. I see this site has Alexa Rank of 7,661 thats pretty near much at the top.

    I think they should keep Google PR just make it a realistic algorithms thats public and that will keep webmaster honest, forcing them to provide quality content and just inbound links.

    I’m sure most of you have heard that Google TrustRank was trademarked a few years back. Maybe thats what they are going to?

  • http://www.netpaths.net/blog CVOS SEO

    I would support removing pagerank in favor of 100% accurate backlink counts available in Webmaster Central.

  • http://www.infinitytechnology.com Dawn

    I think it would save alot of headaches if the pagerank was removed. I believe most people misunderstand the pagerank inside and outside the SEO field. If Google would create a webmaster tool bar that would very very nice. I think if they remove the pagerank they should consider keeping the shortcuts such as gmail and calendar for those who use them. Great article!

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/wordpress/ Michael Martinez

    They need to just get rid of it. The Toolbar has done nothing but blind many people to the real necessity of building relevant content for targeted query expressions.

  • David Eaves

    PageRank comes in handy all of the time, no PageRank would equal more work, also a PR5 or PR6 is a good indicator that a site is trustworthy.

  • http://www.articlesnatch.com/blog/ Matt Ellsworth

    We link to a lot of sites on our article directory and I spend a lot of time surfing the web looking for other great resources. While the page rank of a site is by no means the end all be all of quality – a page rank sure helps.

    If google wants to remove it from the toolbar – fine – so long as other plugins like searchstatus and other query tools still work.

  • http://www.snelleinformatie.nl/bedrijfsauto-mercedes SEO Noob

    I totally with Adam Lasnk. No need to add more arguments. Also I don’t matter if it’s being removed from the toolbar. If they don’t throw away the whole PR thing, and put it in some other tool(-bar), Im totally ok with that.

  • http://www.weboptimist.com Richard V. Burckhardt

    PR would be worth keeping if accurate, but as it is, it’s worthless. I’d say either make it up to date and accurate or remove it altogether from the toolbar and give us a similar (but accurate) tool in webmaster central. That way you don’t have clients looking at that PR2 in the toolbar and screaming at you. Doesn’t matter that their traffic is up 500%, they still see that PR2!

  • http://www.free-internet-media.com Will Spencer

    If Google removed PR completely from public display, some other company would build a replacement.

    We need some method to value link trades and purchases. If Google doesn’t give us that method, someone else will.

  • http://www.profesjonalna-reklama.pl Pozycjonowanie

    I agree they can remove it from toolbar but leave the PR for us that we can check when we want to buy some links.

  • David Eaves

    @Will Spencer & Pozycjonowanie , I don’t think that link buying needs are at the top of Google’s agenda to tell you the truth.

  • http://blog.cre8asite.net/bwelford/ Barry Welford

    This is beginning to look like a no-brainer decision for Google. No-one is strongly for the Toolbar PageRank indicator. Most are either ho-hum about it or very much against it. I’m in the ‘very much against it’ camp. So how many PhDs does it take to get a no-brainer decision right.

  • http://www.groundfloorseo.com GroundFloorSEO

    For me it doesn’t matter if Google removes the PR toolbar or not. I truly wish they would because I feel they should have never added PR to the toolbar if they didn’t want others to use for their advantage. Google should not be overly concerned if others sell links based on the PR, this is what they have put out their for others to measure site performance and popularity, why wouldn’t a true website owner use this data to their advantage, it’s ridiculous to think someone wouldn’t, especially someone who is only concerned with montenizing. This is not the 90’s anymore, many people build sites to make money not because they enjoy being a webmaster or have a true interest in the audience. This is just the reality and PR to most people means value and that value allows you to charge more to advertisers. If they remove PR then everyone would need to find another root cause for selling links and advertisement for hiked rates.

  • http://forum.vbulletinsetup.com Brandon

    It will certainly be interesting to see how this goes.

  • http://www.webtalkdirectory.com/ Colleen

    This is interesting to say the least, but I don’t really mind which way it goes as to me PageRank is over hyped to begin with.

  • http://blog.cre8asite.net Elizabeth Able

    Hmmm… a private pr available via Google Webmaster accounts? Since we’re talking private, show me a “suspicious practices” bar of recent and future doom, or a change vulnerability index, or some sort of quality score. Make it juicier and meatier than fairy dust and I’m sold.

    One problem with public tool bar PR is that it looks authoritative to the non-SEO/SEM, and can therefore be misconstrued by unethical marketers.

    What public PR-like thing would be useful and interesting for the 99.9% of users who aren’t webmasters, as well as the 20% who sort of wish they were? Invent a gizmo like that, and a whole raft of new problems and puzzles take the place of the old, but maybe a few of the new puzzles would be keepers.

    The PR bar is one place where I’d love to see the devil we know replaced by a new and improved version. Amazing things are possible! Look at what’s been happening in local search this year.

  • Mukesh

    PR is the main reason for spam. Stopping PR will certainly reduce a hell of a lot of spamming activities over the internet.

  • http://www.activewebdir.com Antonio

    Personally, I feel google would not disable pagerank. If it is to be true, something new would come out.

  • http://www.miraclestudios.in artisticindian

    I think if google removes the PR altogether…..then some other company will start providing free toolbar………

    This will distract a lot of attention from Google…………

    I think PR is the only measure of website’s growth and prosperity……..

  • Eli

    In the long run this would be better, quality-wise, in my opinion. But … yeah, since we were all expecting a pagerank update and it didn’t come, maybe it’s never coming?

  • http://www.search-engines-optimization.com Dhruv Mehta

    I do not think they will remove it from toolbar…. Lots of people / companies are working because of this G PR only.

  • http://www.uylog.com uylog

    I think they may just replace it with somthing else. They can not remove it completely.

  • http://www.aaronnimocks.com/ Aaron Nimocks

    I really dont get all these comments…

    If you want the Google toolbar gone because you dont care about it then dont install it or look at it. Problem solved.

    Displaying the pagerank in the toolbar has created a new way of making a living off the internet. The basis of this is the google pagerank. If you take away that then you kill of tons of people who rely on this to make money.

    I know blah blah blah you should focus on making good content blah blah blah.

    Well some people dont want to make money that way. They want to create a quality site that will pass on a good link to their buyers. This is how they decide to make their money so why not just leave them be. It doesnt effect you at all.

    Also who cares about the people that have mis perceptions on pagerank and it negatively effects them. Those people just need to spend 5 minutes and read and they will see what pagerank is.

    In short there are different ways to make money on the interenet, if yours isnt with pagerank then your opinion dont count and you should just close your mouth, remove the toolbar, and ignore it forever. Then go off and create your high quality, unique content, awsome, and amazing site that will draw natural links.

  • http://www.seoptimise.com KevGibbo

    I think some people worry far too much about PageRank but at the same time it’s still useful in some ways, such as assessing the quality of a link or quickly finding out if a website is new.

  • David Eaves

    Yep if you see PageRank you know a site is at least 2 0r 3 months old and if it is high, you can be pretty sure that the site is established. I really don’t see what anyones problem is with it, there is an option not to show PageRank in the Google toolbar, if you don’t like it don’t show it and don’t winge about it.

  • http://www.egorych.com egorych

    Toolbar PR removal is stupid. PR shows me a qualty of a site more than 6 months old, and gives a lot of info. There are no other signals for fast analyzing (do you analyze backlinks for each page you see?). It would be bad.

  • http://www.websight.org James

    It never ceases to amaze me the amount of hype that exists because of Google’s PR algorithm. From the beginning Google has been consistent in their message(s) regarding PR, it is nothing more than an indicator. If you have a P0 it indicates your site is more than likely new, or not well coded. If you have a PR 5 your site has (probably) been around for a while, has a number of quality links, and more often than not offers good content. Of course there are sites that cheat and yet still maintain a high PR, but these are usually short lived.

    If you have done your job properly as an “SEO expert” than you have explained this to your clients. At the end of the day would you rather have a PR5 and be on page 10, or a PR3 and be listed on page 1? Yes it’s an obvious answer, but once again I am amazed at how many people are caught up in chasing the elusive and every morphing PR.

  • Bernard

    This is lonnnnnnnnng overdue Google! Drop the green bar and make the internet a better place.

  • http://www.jaankanellis.com Jaan Kanellis

    Well if they can easily remove the Si indicator, why not the toolbar PR. It really tells us nothing about a page. Simply un-installing it doesnt help. Their are many “marketers” out there perpetuating that toolbar PR does in fact mean something when most of us know that it doesn’t. Getting rid of it can eliminate a lot of the scammers out there and REALLY hurt paid link brokers ability to price links. They will be then forced to sell links with real analytics and relevance. Sounds good to me.

  • http://onlinemarketingupdates.blogspot.com Prashant Kumar Pracheta

    Hi loren…………
    u r doing gr8 work. Its a very nice post.
    well Google Page rank is useful to find the page importance of a websites. it is very useful while doing link exchange…..

  • Mukesh

    Either kill the PR or stop fooling around, let the PR updates happen on time so webmasters don’t hav to sit in anticipation not able to concentrate on anything else.

  • http://www.dirfolder.com/ rakib

    without PR i cannot think web.

  • http://www.blahblahtech.com/ Wayne Smallman

    I think Eric Lander touches on a good point. It’s a hassle to explain Google PR to clients, some of whom often have an incorrect grasp of what it means.

    However, rather than scrap it, why doesn’t Google offer a break down of the numbers, such as th top 5-10 (simplified) criteria they’re using to measure a web page?

    That way, PR becomes a more visible, self-explanatory metric that’s not like some dark science…

  • http://success-4-u.blogspot.com han

    hmm…. i would not say anything. i am still newbie in SEO business. for me, your arguments, either pro or contra, are very interesting.

  • http://www.sellyourwinnipeghouse.com Kirk W. Nobbe

    It seems a foregone conclusion among the readers here , with their expertise and knowledge, that the google page rank tool is somewhat flawed and oversimplistic from a seo viewpoint
    Yet for many ordinary internet users , who are simply looking for credible sites in their research, the google page ranking service or tool or measurement serves as a most valuable indicator if the seriousness and credibility of information and its sources for them
    This is a quick way for them to asctertain at least if a website can be trusted for its information or if it some stand alone , non credible spam website
    It would not be a wise idea for google to eliminate this service without a well explained , more than intuitive replacement
    If google was to do it would serve to drive a lot of ordinary serious users to other search engines
    Just because a tool is used to benefit of some seo experts is no need to eliminate it from standard computer users – who read their ads

  • http://www.catdynamics.com Chris Taylor

    I don’t think it would worry me either way… I just concentrate my client on building a great site and getting quality links form themed sites, pr doesn’t come into it.

  • http://www.tech4dummies.net praveen

    Now-a-days people are interested in increasing the page rank rather than concentrating the content.

  • http://seo-ithut.blogspot.com/ Eu

    I agree. People give too much credit to PR, thinking that a high PR describes a good site, which is not always true. A good content, links from quality and trusted sites are what should matter.

    It’s true that PR from Google toolbar shows us 2-3 months old data. I could recheck the PR of a site if we doubt the button, but most of the time I trust it. The data do not change very fast – not in my sites case at least.

    But in the same time, PR tells me how important a page is for Google. So if I do not count PR… how I will realize what is important for Google?

  • http://directory.sootle.com/directory-weblog/ Darren McLaughlin

    It’s okay by me. I haven’t used the ToolBar since 2005.

  • http://www.multimedia.co.cr Chris C/

    The only and real problem with PR is his accuracy and out of date, but is so useful to know what site has a good history, backlinks and “content”…

    Maybe should be better not 0 to 10 PR measure, instead of that could be 0 to 100 PR measure, but rally updated every month at least…

  • http://www.seo4china.com SEO in China

    Just remove it. It would be one pain less for us SEOs. On the other hand, won’t all links equal if there were no PR to rank them?

  • http://NA Sukriti

    OOps! What will happen to Link Building Industry and link builders without PR.

  • http://www.hobo-web.co.uk/seo-blog/index.php/google-page-rank-2007-test-yours-learn-more/ Hobo SEO

    I still think PR is useful. I went to an auction site, and the first thing I did was to check the PR (it’s not exactly hard or timeconsuming) – a PR six basically told me the site had been about a while.

    After checking a few backlinks (and checking on google for bad publicity) I determined it was a trustworthy site. And I was right.

  • http://www.jaankanellis.com Jaan Kanellis

    “a PR six basically told me the site had been about a while.”

    huh? one thing doesnt have anything to do with the other.

  • http://www.davesblogidge.com Dave O Dwyer

    Scrap it ! Do us all a favour !!

  • http://hawaiianalohashirts.blogspot.com/ Da Kine Hawaiian Aloha

    A good SEO should be able to “kick the tires” on a site without the aid of a little green bar, dump it!

  • http://www.dreamobiles.com Richard Brown

    Google has already taken away supplemental pages. Taking away PageRank removes another metric that helps us understand how successful our marketing really is.

  • http://www.jaankanellis.com Jaan Kanellis

    Richard Google only took away the SI label. It still exists. Also toolbar PR has nothing to do with knowing “how successful our marketing really is”.

  • http://www.riceblogger.com Rice Blogger

    I think taking PageRank have too much influence for a blogger or webmaster…scraping it off would allow other people coming out with a tool to judge/value a website……like alexa, technorati

  • http://www.blahblahtech.com/2007/08/google-to-kill-pagerank.html Wayne Smallman

    Scrapping one well-used and visible metric just creates a vacuum that someone else will fill.

    I think if Google do scrap their public PageRank, someone like Yahoo! or Microsoft will scramble to fill the void.

    The question then becomes an issue of what kind of quality do we expect to see?

    I’m reminded of an old adage: better the devil you know than the devil you don’t…

  • http://www.oakconservatories.co.uk Charles Turner

    I work in a small niche industry in the UK and the google page rank system does seem to work relatively well in representing more authority sites. The industry as a whole doesn’t practise large scale SEO so most of the results are natural, which is what google originally intended.

    Google are unlikely to remove the page rank. It is more likely that it will be refined more towards to trust rank, with authority sites being given a higher ranking. This should be to much of an issue because google use this in their algorthyms for the SERPs. For instance an anchor text link from CNN on a page with a page rank of 2 will have far more impact on your site rising in Serps than a spammy page that has a page rank of 5 only because of other pages pointing to it. Whether google remove page rank and replace it by another measure such as trust rank or whether they run the two side by side is another matter. Probably the best ranking systme currently around is the SEOMOZ ranking system at http://www.seomoz.org

  • http://www.clickmedium Click Medium

    I think a revision in the weighting is in order. Or regular updates. Alexa isn’t any more accurate. They’re more easily manipulated too.

  • http://www.clickmedium.com Click Medium

    Good post at SEW as well.

  • http://www.seodesignsolutions.com/ Jeffrey L. Smith

    I think the whole concept of page rank was one of the most phenomenal concepts undertaken by any independent company on the internet. Hats off to Google for creating a public metrics tool and having the where with all to actually sell it so well to millions without having the bugs all worked out.

    Gaming links was not an epidemic prior to pagerank (at least not openly), now the very stir it created for directories being able to charge for links has created a backlash making assessing accurate rankings difficult for Google, due to all of the unethical means used to exploit it through aggressive link building.

    Now unfortunately the directories have fallen out of favor as far as link quality and passing pagerank as well as being a viable form of authority for those dependent on them for ranking / backlinks.

    Great concept, but it has no true bearing other than ego gratification. Trust rank is far greater, by comparison.

  • http://www.foursquareinnovations.co.uk/webdesign.html Chris Boswell

    One of the biggest headaches with PR for me is having to explain to customers what it actually means, and helping them differentiate between PR and SERPS – I think one poster already alluded to this.

    One suggestion I’ve heard is that PR might be replaced by a trust rank. Anyway, what’s needed I think, is something simple, obvious and utilitarian – maybe an algo based on link number, link quality and traffic volume on a 1/10 score. This would have obvious meaning for the layman and definite utility for SEOs.

  • http://www.derrich.com/ Derrich

    Isn’t PR based on trust already? Or at least how you appear (order) on Google searches. Perhaps I’m confusing the two.

  • http://www.miraclestudios.in Web design company

    I think if Google takes away the green PR ….then it will adopted by some other search engine like Yahoo amd MSn

    So don’t worry my friends…….everything will be allright

  • http://www.foursquareinnovations.co.uk/webdesign.html Chris Boswell

    I’m afraid that PR has almost nothing to do with where you rank on Google. It gives an indication of the highest PR of any site ranking to you – e.g. If your website has a PR6 then the highest site linking to you will be PR 7 – this gives an indication of the quality of the sites linking to you, and a rough idea of how many site’s you might expect to be linking to you but nothing more. PR doesn’t even provide rough or vague measurables that are of any practical use.

    I’m not sure whether trust forms a part of the PR algo, but if so I suspect its not a very influential factor.

    SERPs are what count.

  • http://marketingasolicitor.com/?p=66 Google to Scrap Page Rank

    They are only going to get rid of the little green bar, the site will still have a Page Rank, it just won’t be visable – see the article: http://marketingasolicitor.com/?p=66

  • http://aventhusiast.com mlankton

    Either the pagerank is simply delayed, or, perhaps Google is finally implementing some algorithms that devalue comment and forum links.

  • http://www.blahblahtech.com/2007/09/google-doesnt-get-social-media.html Wayne Smallman

    It’s interesting you mention comments, since this is precisely where Google and Yahoo! are heaping the value, in terms of search relevance from a Social Media point of view.

    My feeling is, it’s a misguided attempt to be all hip, and serves no one.

    If they value an article more for the number of comments it receives (which is essentially what they’re doing) that sounds like the ideal vehicle to spoof search ranking to me.

    Additionally, there seems to be no indication of the quality of those comments being taken into account, which is mad…

  • http://www.resimturkey.com Resim

    This is a good news. Because everybody taking link with money so good pages google line is bad.

  • http://www.freshtraffic.co.uk kim

    I agree with Chris, SERPs are what count. I have had a PR2 on my personal domain for over 5 years but still rank page 1 for many competitive keywords worldwide.

  • http://www.foursquareinnovations.co.uk Chris Boswell

    Absolutely Kim,

    your domain age will be helping you there as well. In fact, domain age is one of the many quantifiers which means so much more than PR.

  • http://depressione.blogowice.pl/ depressione

    I do understand what you mean, Resim

  • http://www.jagd.blogowice.pl/ jagd

    I think Page Rang will more important when Google update their alghoritm.

  • http://jabadoo.wordpress.com/ Discount shops

    Warning guys – PageRank will updating for several days !!! :)

  • http://www.fireblades.org CBR

    SERPS are what pays the bills not so much page rank. I have an old PR2 site that enjoys top rankings over PR4 and 5 sites.. Go figure, I would not trade them.

  • http://dubai.fastrealestate.net Dubai

    I think we are drawing close to the end of the page rank era. Average users don’t use it, it’s a spam magnet and at the end of the day results in the rankings are what will make or reak any site. Not page rank

  • http://www.seovisions.com SEO Visions

    Pagerank, as a visual metric, tells us very little about anything save for link quantity, or indirect quantity, so this is likely a good move.

  • http://www.seotips.org seo tips

    I vote for keeping it. Pr helps in many ways, one is more like a pat on the back after working your ass off on a new domain for 6 months. Seeing that PR3 come through means a lot to some people! + bragging rights to others in your feild!

  • http://hobby.unitedeu.com/ Sewing

    You know what guys? I think that it is good idea, but I am affraid its not for me :(

  • http://www.diamondonnet.com/ Diamonds

    As a merchant this would be good but as a customer this would be bad. Its probably the only feature I use in google toolbar. I hope they just improve this, rather than remove it.

  • http://www.stag-marketing.co.uk SEO Harrogate

    Concentrate on content rather than PR

  • http://www.advocatekhoj.com Vijay Kumar

    Yes, even Chrome from Google doesn’t have a PR indicator

    Vijay Kumar
    Manager – Advocatekhoj
    http://www.advocatekhoj.com

  • http://www.ethnobotanicals.com/ Kratom

    Does it portend anything that Chrome does not have a built-in PR indicator?

  • http://www.teasandtrees.com John Goode

    Page ranking is a bitch. It is helpful to have an idea where you stan.

  • http://www.sitesdeparis.fr/Betclic.html betclic.fr

    Great post, thank !

  • http://www.optimasemper.com JW

    PR is only ego boosting to techies. Relevant rankings are what the public want so reward those sites that deliver this. Get rid of link sites!!!

  • Shane Orangeries

    The problem is that so much has become based on PR now (especially people selling links, and to a certain extent selling websites).

  • Shane Orangeries

    The problem is that so much has become based on PR now (especially people selling links, and to a certain extent selling websites).

  • http://www.andykuiper.com Andy Kuiper

    sorry… test – last post didn’t show?

  • http://www.adornconsultants.com/ Adorn Web Design Company

    PR is very help to find the quality sites.