PageRank was everything having to do with anything having to do with SEO not so long ago, and a lot of people still haven’t gotten over it. Yes, it was important. At one time, PageRank was a determining factor that could boost a website into prominence or trash it entirely.
PageRank was the one thing that elevated Google above every other search engine. PageRank became the standard by which websites were judged. A website without PageRank was worth nothing, while those with PageRank were valued according to the PageRank that they had.
People like to have a way of ranking things, and Google provided that. An entire industry and several sub-industries grew up around it, as people devoted more time and energy into achieving a higher PageRank number than they spent on building a site with the sort of useful content that would be deserving of it.
As Google fought back by changing its algorithm frequently, adding levels of complexity to it, scammers learned to beat it. Each time that Google stepped up its game, only a small percentage of the scammers were affected, but innocent webmasters were sometimes caught in the crossfire.
Then an odd thing happened. Google spokespeople began speaking against its own product, advising webmasters not to focus so much on PageRank, and they removed the PageRank toolbar from their web browser.
Of course, abandoning PageRank proved to be a hard sell. People continued to focus on PageRank, since it was the only way we had of determining which website was bigger. Then Google announced that it wouldn’t be updating its PageRank anymore. But, almost a year later, about the time that people began to believe them, they updated their PageRank again.
Since then, Google has made it quite clear that they wouldn’t be updating their public PageRank ever again. This time, other than for some clueless individuals on SEO forums, and some shady SEO firms who are still marketing PageRank, most people are accepting it.
Rather than concentrating on building a better website, however, many of them are simply looking for another metric, such as Alexa Traffic Rank or Moz Domain Authority.
Once another SEO metric comes along to replace Google PageRank, the scammers will turn their attention to finding ways to beat it. Anything to avoid having to actually build a better website.