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High PR

There’s a scandal going on around these parts, and it’s got to do with “high PR”. Google PageRank is something that meant a lot to people in the past, in that people like to have points of comparison.

PageRank was especially important when it came to web directories, because a directory that enjoyed a high PageRank could charge high submission fees and still not drive away submitters. Some of these web directories even went so far as to incorporate their PageRank into the name of the directory, while many others made a point of mentioning it oHigh PRn the home page of the directory. Historically, these have tended not to be among the better directories, yet it was a useful advertising gimmick.

Approximately six months ago, Google spokespeople announced that it would no longer be updating its public PageRank, and it had long before made it clear that people should not look to PageRank as a measure of the value of a website.

Yet, there are tons of web directories that still claim to have a high PR, many of which weren’t even directories at the time that Google last updated its public PageRank.

Still, every SEO forum is filled with people who still consider “high PR” to be the only useful measure of a website or directory.

Sure, it’s quite likely that Google continues to use PageRank as one of the variables in its internal algorithm, but this is hardly useful to anyone outside of Google, given that the public is no longer privy to this information. Oh yes, there are still some outdated browser plugins that will display a PageRank number, but this number hasn’t been updated in a long time and, unless Google changes its mind, it won’t be.

Because there are still those who believe that PageRank is an important number, you’ll find disreputable web directories heralding their “high PR”. I have seen some of their posts in SEO forums and, since I am always interested in looking at directories that I am not yet familiar with, I often take a closer look. In doing so, I frequently find that they have only a few links and nothing in the way of the amount of content that would earn them the PageRank that they claim, even when Google was updating its public PageRank.

When I check the domain out in the Internet Archive (WayBack Machine), frequently I find that the domain wasn’t even a web directory at the time that Google last updated its public PageRank.

How does that happen? Well, there are ways to fake PageRank, and people have been doing that for years. Others have been known to hire hackers to place hidden back-links on authority sites. More often, however, the answer is that someone has bought an expired domain that had PageRank from its previous existence, slapped a cheap directory script onto it, and advertised it as a “high PR” directory.

These types of directories are no more representative of the web directory industry than a fake Rolex is of the well-known watch brand. The owners of these fake web directories are merely trying to hoax people into thinking they’re more reputable than they are, making claim to that which they have not earned.

Reputable web directories will generally highlight the quality of their product rather than the PageRank of their index page, so when a directory trumpets its high PR, that could be a sign of trouble. You should either take a closer look or walk away.

PageRank was never a reliable indicator of quality, but it was once a useful metric. Today, when you come across people who are emphasizing the PageRank rather than the quality of their directory, it is a sign that something may be wrong.

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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.

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