Why PageRank Doesn’t Matter

Google Page Rank ReductionVisit any internet marketing forum and you are guaranteed to stumble upon a thread about Google PageRank.  Members will boast they have seen an increase and others will complain theirs have dropped.  Others will wear their PageRank as a badge of honour because it is higher than others commenting on the topic at hand.

What is the coveted PageRank value these people are talking about?

These people are talking about the value visible in the Google Toolbar, the little green bar that signifies the relative popularity and importance of a page.  It can have a value from 0 to 10, with 10 assigned to the most popular sites and arguably the most important sites.

What many people forget about this item is it differs from the actual value used to determine the relative importance of a webpage.  People confuse the two and make the assumption the higher the PageRank displayed in the toolbar for their sites, the better they will rank for their keywords.

There’s no simpler way to put it.  Toolbar PageRank is not a measure of how much traffic a site receives or where the page will rank in the search engines.

This PageRank value doesn’t matter.

It is an approximation only.  It is a snapshot in time while the true value changes constantly.

Again, just to for emphasis, it has nothing to do with the amount of traffic a site receives.  It reveals nothing about how a site will rank for its keywords.

What is important are the elements that influence is value and the activities you use to improve it.

PageRank was conceived as a method to determine the importrance of page based entirely on link popularity.  However, it has evolved to incorporate other factors such as relevancy and outbound links.

Relevancy is self-explanatory.  Link popularity refers to the number of pages that link to a particular page.  Pages with higher link popularity contain more weight and will typically influence PageRank more because they themselves are considered important based on their number of links.  This importance becomes somewhat diluted when there are more outbound links from that page because the outgoing weight has to be spread across all those outbound links.

These items are constantly changing and you normally have no control over who who links to your website.

For that reason alone, PageRank in itself can’t be used to determine where your site ranks in the search engine results or how much traffic it receives.  Other factors come into play and its these other factors that are part of Google’s complex search algorithm.

Google has actually indicated the following about PageRank:

PageRank reflects our view of the importance of web pages by considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Pages that we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top of the search results.

PageRank also considers the importance of each page that casts a vote, as votes from some pages are considered to have greater value, thus giving the linked page greater value. We have always taken a pragmatic approach to help improve search quality and create useful products, and our technology uses the collective intelligence of the web to determine a page’s importance.

Wow!  500 million variables and 2 billion terms!  It’s not as simple as you thought right?

Don’t become obsessed with chasing PageRank.  If it drops don’t panic and if it increases, don’t get too confident.  It doesn’t mean what you are doing is right or wrong.

Think about it … 500 million variables and 2 billion terms!  There’s too many things that may be coming into play.

Instead of focusing on something you have very little control over, Use your time to focus on improving and promote your site.  Engage your readers socially and develop content that will attract high quality links.  Use the time to increase the awareness and popularity of your site which in turn will increase traffic and ultimately revenue.

The next time you stumble upon one of those threads about PageRank visualize a dog chasing its tail.  The dog accomplishes nothing by doing it but it keeps him preoccupied.

Don’t become the dog.  Your competition is doing something much more important and aren’t preoccupied!

What’s your thoughts on Google PageRank?  Are you obsessed with it?

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About Barry Wheeler

Barry Wheeler is a blogger, novice SEO, geek and passionate Newfoundlander. Operating several successful websites and online communities, Barry has started exploring the social internet and its impact on all facets of society including personal life and business relationships. Find Barry on Twitter @barrywheeler and FaceBook or on his website Barry Wheeler - Blogging for Success.
Filed under: Miscellaneous, SEO / SEM, Tips for Beginners Tagged with: , , , , . - permalink.

12 Responses to Why PageRank Doesn’t Matter

  1. Jon Brown says:

    Very very good post – good to see someone spell things out for the masses.

    One good use of the green bar is to qualify a web page for it’s recognition by Google. This is handy for identifying if it’s worth the time trying to obtain a link back from a web page to your own site. If a web page has zero page rank, then having a link from that page is not going to be as strong as having a link from a rank 3 page. Don’t get me wrong, if it’s easy to get a link from a rank 0 page, as long as the content is relevant and as long as it is not rank zero because it has had it’s bum smacked by Google, then its worth getting a link on that page, after all, one day that rank zero page may become a rank 5 page.

    Remember though, as Barry says, a page rank give’s you no indication of traffic levels.

    I mention ‘bum smacking’ – so what do I mean ? Well, if you have been a naughty boy or girl by trying to trick Google, you may end up getting delisted from the Google index. If this happens, you will also lose any page rank you will have had and all of a sudden, you will not be getting any visits from Google users, and quite rightly so. Equally, any link-juice that may have come from that site before, will also have ran dry.

    So how can you check if a website has had it’s bum smacked?

    This is reasonabvly easy, go to google and do a search for the name of the website. If you cannot find it in the results, chance is it’s not listed – at all. Just be aware that some new sites, very new sites and/or some of thier pages may not yet be listed in the Google index. For example, this very page you are reading now, at this moment, ha no page rank at all, but Barry’s home page is a rank 3, so in terms of this subject, Barry’s one of the good guys!

    I feel I also have to add, that as Barry say’s, rank can go down too, but this doesn’t always mean Google is punishing you. In fact, you may often see your page rank fall 1 or 2 rank points, which is usually Google just making a page rank update, it happens (www.google.co.uk was once rank 9 and it’s now 8 – http://www.twitter.com is a rank 9) . As long as the traffic you get from Google doesn’t drop considerably, DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT.

    Confusing? Yeah sorry about that, it’s most likely because the world of search engine optimisation really isn’t straight forward anyway. Which is why the world is a better place because of people like Barry 🙂

    Nice article Barry, +1’d

    • Jon,

      Thanks for sharing your insights and for the +1 – much appreciated.

      You’re so right when it comes to this world of SEO. It’s a new world order that exists right now. Things are continually evolving. How do you see social metrics playing a role in this?


      • Jon Brown says:

        Thanks Barry,

        The great thing about social media is that it’s beginning to take the measure and decision of quality and popularity away from the search engines. Up until recent times, the search engines have calculated popularity and quality based on parameters, including keyword relevance, link popularity, page content, tags and as you say, millions of variables – but it’s always been a little black and white – in a fuzzy grey kind of way 🙂

        Social media prior to Facebook, Twitter and the many other ‘social networks’ , has been involved in SERPs ( Search Engine Results Pages ) ranks, but it has largely been media that can be affected (some say manipulated) by SEO technicians – like community discussion forums, blogs, video sharing sites, etc. Whilst these still have their role to play in SERPs, the new social landscape we have available now adds a whole new dimension to the SEO world, a dimension that is with time, more and more out of the hands of algorithms and SEO experts and into the hands of the people who matter.

        The good thing for ethical marketing is that social media plays into the hands of those with real, engaged audiences and it makes life more difficult for the black hat brigade.


      • Hi Jon,

        Wouldn’t you say the ability now of SEOs to influence rankings are being greatly reduced because of the penetration of social networking? It’s a little harder to “fake” the social experience don’t you think?


  2. Elizabeth says:

    What a relief, I just came accross a Page Rank webmaster tool online, and was horrified to see I was ranked #45 and #17 Or at a worse number.

    Then I recalled noticing your article about Page Rank and why it doesn’t matter. Thank you so much for this insight.

    I won’t be spending the evening, or the next coming months concerning myself with the Page Rank. However, I will be checking in to see if anything changes in the future.

    Thanks Barry!

    • Elizabeth,

      Don’t confuse “Pagerank” with where you rank in the search results. I think that’s what you’re referring to here.

      Pagerank is typically considered the relative importance of your page (in Google’s eyes). Where you rank in the search results (#45 and #17) is a rank of how relevant your content matches what you’ve searched for.


  3. assalim says:

    Hi Jon,

    Wouldn’t you say the ability now of SEOs to influence rankings are being greatly reduced because of the penetration of social networking? It’s a little harder to “fake” the social experience don’t you think?


  4. assalim says:

    Hi Jon,

    Wouldn’t you say the ability now of SEOs to influence rankings are being greatly reduced because of the penetration of social networking? It’s a little harder to “fake” the social experience don’t you think?

  5. Jon Brown says:

    Odd – I seem to have the same reply from two different people.

    That said, I think it has reduced the ability for SEOs to influence rankings, to an extent, without a good quality marketing mix, it’s made them change their game plan.

    However, you could say that this reduced ability affects everyone, particularly new sites, so in that respect there is and probably always will be a role for the SEO technician.

    The best advise any SEO can give their clients is that whilst they can assist in SEO, the client still needs to commit their own time in working the marketing mix and engaging with their target audience.

  6. Amit Kumar says:

    nice info for those people who is always thinking about pr….:)

    • I’ve got sites that have been wiped out from a “PR” perspective, but they still generate revenue and still get traffic. Google’s “tweaking” of it’s algorithm does seem to punish those who try to build sites the old fashion way.

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