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Abandoning PageRank

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.

No PageRankPeople 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.


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Ken Anderson was an early meta editor for the Open Directory Project (DMOZ), as well as an editor with the Go.com and Zeal directories, and several other web directories, both short- and long-term.


'Abandoning PageRank' have 4 comments

  1. January 3, 2015 @ 5:27 pm Jenna

    I’m constantly amazed by how many people are still stuck on the idea of page rank making a difference. Read most of the ads on Flippa and you’ll see people either making a big deal of their rank in the ad itself or people asking about it. You’ll see the same emphasis on many forums where supposed SEO companies are offering services.

    Reply

    • January 3, 2015 @ 6:21 pm WDD-Admin

      Uh huh. SEO forums are full of them, and there are still “directories” whose claim to fame is in PageRank.

      Reply

  2. January 16, 2015 @ 7:45 am Neil

    I, for one, am glad that people are placing less value on PR as the years have gone by. I’ve had a few experiences where a website was a hard sell because although it had a significant amount of organic traffic, it may not have had the PR to back it up, or a high enough PR that would appease potential buyers. And if your PR dropped for some unknown reason, it would arouse suspicion and questioning. It was a deal-breaker for many people back then but I do feel buyers know to look past PR and are more careful in conducting their due diligence when determining the value of a site through various metrics (revenue, traffic quality/source, quality of backlinks, site age, etc.)

    I still however see people using PR as a selling point on sites like Flippa and DigitalPoint. I guess it can’t be helped, sellers will just feel the need to mention every positive aspect of their site to get the sale. If it helps them get their site sold, more power to them. However, they’ve probably lucked out in the sense that PR isn’t much of a determining factor for buyers anymore. And I hope it stays that way. Less people getting suckered into buying crappy domains on the basis of PR.

    Reply

    • January 16, 2015 @ 6:41 pm WDD-Admin

      If Google is good to its word about no longer updating its public PR, the browser plugins will eventually go away. My concern is that people will simply look for another unreliable metric to take its place. We seem to have a need for a measuring rod of some sort, rather than trusting on our own ability to recognize quality when we see it.

      Reply


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