PageRank, or PR, was once the most vital element of ranking in Google. Over time, PR has become just one of many ranking factors. Some have noticed, however, that PR has yet to see an update in the post-Panda world, which led to some questions about whether PR was being further diminished – or even discontinued – as a result of link-buying abuse or other frowned upon behavior. One brave individual, Rajeesh, contacted Matt Cutts to get the answer to just that question.
Cutts take a roundabout way of getting there, but I’ll skip to the important part: Yes, PageRank is still a thing, it will still be updated, and there’s no current indication that it’s being diminished as a ranking factor. To explain why people haven’t seen an update since Panda, however, Cutts took the time to explain how the PageRank numbers are generated and displayed.
As it turns out, Google actually keeps track of your new PR every time a portion of the web is re-crawled, which – thanks to Google caffeine – means constantly. The PR for all the sites on the web is “stored on a bank of machines,” and all that data can be exported manually and posted to the Google Toolbar. Additionally, the PR data in Google is “real floats or scalers” that go well beyond just the 0 to 10 rank that the toolbar provides.
The reason to keep the figures more narrow and the exports less frequent go back to avoiding webmaster obsession. Google decided they didn’t want webmasters checking back in multiple times per day to figure out exactly where their PR was, and Cutts specifically emphasizes that “there’s a lot of different stuff you can pay attention to beyond just that green indicator in the Google Toolbar.”
[Sources include: Google Webmaster Help]
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