Google PageRank was the perfect tool to use when you were comparing one site to another, but that’s finished since Google isn’t letting us know what a site’s PageRank is anymore. Webmasters now have to turn their attention towards something else in order to know how their sites stack up. Will they spend their time making sure that they produce incredibly high-quality content, engage their users, and let their site stand on it own merits? Or will they spend their time, effort, and money chasing another metric?
Once you realize that PageRank is dead, and you can accept that it’s never coming back, where will you go from there? Since chasing PageRank has been the cornerstone of everyone’s SEO endeavors for years, it can be disconcerting to have to go without it. This is why people are still blathering about PageRank on SEO forums.
It’s not as if its absence was without warning. Matt Cutts, a Google spokesperson, tweeted that PageRank was finished long ago. When asked about a 2014 update, he said that he would “be surprised if that happened.” I suppose he was surprised, because there was an update only a few weeks afterwards. But there hasn’t been one in a long time now, and they have been far and few between for much longer than that.
The SEO industry requires a metric in order that their own work can be easily assessed. Although the important thing is, and always has been, the position that a site holds in search engine page results, that’s not as clear and easy as a single number. Domain resellers seem still to be using PageRank as an evaluator of the domains that they have for sale, this despite the fact that there hasn’t been an update of Google’s PageRank in quite some time. Webmasters, however, are mostly interested in the position that their site holds in the SERPs for keywords and phrases that they anticipate their potential audience might be using; and, of course, traffic numbers.
Well, Now What?
There are a lot of services out there that can offer a metric, and some of these might actually do a more meaningful job of it than Google ever did. The problem, of course, is that Google PageRank was a metric that everyone recognized, so it served as a standard comparison tool by which a webmaster could compare his own site with competing sites, as well as measuring his site’s progress over time. There are some PageRank alternatives but, in my opinion, none that are as well accepted as was Google PageRank. Let’s look at a few of these, for whatever they might be worth.
MozRank — Most people are somewhat aware of MozRank, an invention of Moz, formerly known as SEOmoz. Moz actually offers a number of metrics. There is Domain Authority and Page Authority, which is a number from 0-100, the larger the number, the greater the authority. Then there is Page MozRank and Page MozTrust, with Page MozRank being the closest to emulating what Google PageRank once gave us. Moz enjoys a good reputation, although the resulting number is magical, in that it is difficult to know just how it is computed, especially since it reportedly used the site’s PageRank as a part of the evaluation, and PageRank is no longer being publicly updated. Also, if you thought it took a long time for a new site to get PageRank, you can get your site listed in DMOZ faster than you can get a Moz rating. Once a new site gets a rating above one though, it tends to fluctuate widely.
Ahrefs — This is another well known platform that can supply you with statistics related to your domain. Ahrefs measures your domain authority through how strong your backlinks are for the most part, since backlinks remain an important part of search engine optimization. Like Moz, Ahrefs will give you a Domain Rank as well as metric for an individual page, called a URL Rank. Its ranking system ranges from 0-100, and is based on the number and quality of backlinks that a site has. The algorithm being used here has a strict set of rules, only 80 percent of the rating that it gives to domains will actually impact another page. If a page that’s rated 100 comes through one that’s rated 80, the rating of 80 will get divided by the amount of do-follow links present, and it does this process for every single page, internal links are included as well.
Majestic — Formerly known as Majestic SEO, this company also offers a metric, known as Citation Flow and Trust Flow. This tool also uses backlinks as an integral part of its metric. Although there is a little more to it, essentially Citation Flow looks at the number of backlinks a site has, and how often it is being linked, while Trust Flow evaluates how authoritative the sites are that are linking to your own.
The problem with these metrics is that, while you can obtain a metric about your site for free, there are strict limitations in the number of times that you can use the tool without being charged, so you would need to have an account with them in order to use their tools to assess competing sites, and I’m not talking about a few dollars a year. Unless your own financial resources are far greater than my own, or you have an SEO client that you can pass the cost onto, they may be unaffordable.
Do You Really Need a Metric?
Quite frankly, even if you could afford it, I would recommend that you use that money to enhance the quality and content of your site, either through adding features that would make it more valuable to your users or by buying quality content.
The content of your site needs to be informative and well-written. There was a time when you could get search engine traffic by paying a cheap content writer, but that was never a good idea. What’s the point in bringing traffic to your site if your site is crap? That doesn’t work well these days, anyhow. If you have the skills and the knowledge, it’s best to write your own content, as you probably care more about your site’s topic than anyone you could hire. Otherwise, hire someone who will do a good job of it. Although you were once able to drive traffic to your site without good quality content, the quality of your content has always been important when it came to conversion rates.
Backlinks and other factors related to website marketing are still important, but nothing is as important as the quality of the content on your site. With good quality content, you won’t need to focus so much on marketing, and chasing another metric might not be a wise use of your time and money.