Is Google Page Rank Still Important?
Since 1998 when Sergey Brin and Larry Page developed the Google search engine, it has relied (and continues to rely) on the Page Rankâ„¢ Algorithm. Googleâ€™s reasoning behind this is, the higher the number of inbould links â€˜pointingâ€™ to a website, the more valuable that site is, in which case it would deserve a higher ranking in its search results pages.
If site â€˜Aâ€™ links to site â€˜Bâ€™, Google calculates this as a â€˜voteâ€™ for site B. The higher the number of votes, the higher the overall value for site â€˜Bâ€™. In a perfect world, this would be true. However, over the years, some site owners and webmasters have abused the system, implementing some â€˜link farmsâ€™ and linking to websites that have little or nothing to do with the overall theme or topic presented in their sites.
Itâ€™s no surprise then that the Mountain View search engine would start cutting back on the combined â€˜weighting factorâ€™ attributed by Page Rankâ„¢ (PR) to the majority of todayâ€™s sites present on the Web.
Currently, Google is about four months late in updating its PR database. There are many theories presented in different SEO forums right now, as to why Google would do this. Here are a few of these hypothetical ideas:
1. Google is broken
2. Google will soon eliminate PR altogether
3. Google still looks at PR, but does not make it public anymore
4. Variations on all the above assumptions
Other developments happening lately
Additionally, many webmasters, SEOâ€™s and site owners have noticed in their server log files or in their Web analytics software, the appearance of a second and new â€˜GoogleBotâ€™. GoogleBot is Googleâ€™s search crawler (or spider) that continually revisits websites and web pages in an effort to index the freshest content possible.
On or about September 24, there used to be only one GoogleBot. Now, there are two of them, operating from two different IP addresses belonging to Google. This leaves many of us to believe that the search engine company is in the process of undergoing a major re-indexing of its master database.
Additionally, many sites that used to have 10,000 or more pages indexed in Google have dropped considerably, in some cases 20 to 30%. Is Google â€˜cleaning upâ€™ its index? I think so… There are still some sites with duplicate pages or duplicate content and Google is in the process of cleaning up its database.
The status on Page Rankâ„¢
From observations done at the Rank for $ales labs, we tend to believe that Page Rankâ„¢ is still alive and well, but that Google is revamping the way in which that algorithm is working and making some important changes to it. If you have the Google toolbar installed on your Internet Explorer browser and if you have the habit of constantly looking at it to check the overall rankings of your website, you may want to deactivate it for a while.
Brand new websites that have been launched after the June 4, 2004 date still show up as PR 0 in the toolbar, meaning that Google has not updated its PR database since that time. Yet many of those same websites already show up in Googleâ€™s index, sometimes appearing on the first results page.
So the question is: Does Page Rankâ„¢ matter anymore? Yes it does, because Google still evaluates sites using part of its Page Rankâ„¢ algorithm, but there are also other factors equally as important (if not more) that Google looks at before allocating any ranking to any given site. Factors such as the overall linking strategy of your website, on-page optimization, your title tags, your overall keyword density and other important elements can have a big impact on Googleâ€™s search results pages.
The same goes true for Yahoo, MSN, AltaVista, AOL, Ask Jeeves and many others.
Do reciprocal link exchanges work anymore?
Another question many site owners and webmasters ask themselves nowadays is does link popularity matter anymore? Yes it does, for the same reasons Iâ€™ve explained earlier. Some people participate in a reciprocal link exchange campaign, in an effort to boost their visibility in the search engines. Reciprocal exchanges work like this: I will place a link from my site to your site, if you do the same for me. Again, in a perfect world, this would be great.
My personal experience with reciprocals is, after two or three months that your link has been placed on one of your link partnersâ€™ sites, they sometimes remove it, without any warning, but in the meantime, you are still linking to them! Frustrating? You bet!
Personally, for the past year or so, I lease the links I need for my clients. How does it work? Itâ€™s very simple: instead of having two-way links, leasing links enable you to have just a one-way link that is of much higher quality and will help you a lot more in the results pages. Google and most of the other search engines will reward a one-way link more than a two-way link (in the case of a reciprocal).
Iâ€™ve been dealing with a professional link leasing broker for the past year and my clients are generally happy of the results we are getting. LinkRent.com delivers relevant links that will help you in the results pages. There are other link brokers too, but shop around, since the prices asked on some sites can really vary a lot.
Another factor while shopping for a link broker is the number of outbound links on any given page. That number should be below 20 for maximum PR transfer.
Conclusion to the PR debate
Page Rankâ„¢ is still important, not just in Google but also in a few more search engines such as Yahoo and AltaVista. But itâ€™s overall significance and value has somewhat been diminished by the actions at Google. Webmasters and site owners still need to continue adding unique content to their sites. Concentrate on adding new pages that are optimized for your main keywords and keyword phrases that will be of help to your users, not just the search engines.
Build and maintain a site that people will use a lot and will continually generate a lot of good and targeted traffic and you will do well, Page Rankâ„¢ or not. Personally, I think the time has come to pay less importance to PR and more to content. Quality is king.
Guest Columnist Serge Thibodeau has been performing professional search engine optimization and priority positioning services since 1997. Serge optimizes commercial web sites of small businesses, medium-size companies as well as Fortune 500 enterprises. Additionally, he also serves as CEO for RankforSales.com