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Andy Williams

PageRank: An Unhealthy Obsession

7th Jul 2011 SEO, Link Building 3 minutes to read

PageRankGoogle’s recent PageRank update has meant that this subject again rose and showed it’s ugly head.

The buzz that an update creates online brings up the age old discussion as to the true value of PageRank. It also causes panic amongst site owners who may have seen their score drop.

But isn’t it time that this dated score was just forgotten about and ignored once and for all?

PageRank has become a huge grey area with mixed messages about its relevance everywhere you look. Some obsess over it while others totally ignore it.

But who is right?

Well before we start it’s worth pointing out that there are two types of PageRank.

Google Toolbar PageRank:
This is the number that we all see from our Google Toolbar with as scores such as 1, 2, 3, etc. This PageRank is updated by Google once every 3-6 months.

Real PageRank:
This is the true PageRank of your website. This information is available with Google only and it has a huge impact on your rankings.

And with only Google knowing the true PageRank score of any given web page it’s the unreliable Toolbar PageRank that is causing so many issues.

So what exactly is the PageRank score based on?

PageRank provides a numeric value that is supposed to represent the importance of a page. This is based on one page linking to another page which effectively creates a vote (for the other page). The more votes a page receives, the more important the page is classed.Page Rank

However what is also taken into account is the importance of the page casting the vote as this will then determine the importance of the vote itself. As a result Google will work out the importance of a  page from the votes cast.

There are other areas the more you look into it. For example the number of links included on a  page will lead to your page receiving weakened link strength (from the page linking to you) but you get the general idea.

But if we take into account that the score we see in the Toolbar isn’t truly correct, why are so many people so obsessed with it?

Well should a quality score provided by Google really be ignored? Surely this is one of the single most important indications that a site is either doing well or not?

I guess so but if this was the case then why is it common to find sites with a lower PageRank out ranking those with a higher score?

Personally PageRank is more of a vanity score than an essential pointer that a campaign is working. We all like to see our sites being handed a high score but beyond that does it mean anything?

On occasions when a customer has rung up worried about their PageRank I have gone away and looked at other areas to review the true impact.


Have any of these dropped away since the drop in PageRank?

The answer is almost always NO.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some uses to the tool, but gaining an unbeatable PageRank score isn’t the holy grail so many believe it to be.

As touched on before having the highest PageRank doesn’t guarantee better rankings.

Sure, you may be receiving some links from some truly strong sites, but are they optimised links? Are they using useful anchor text? Are they from relevant sites? PageRank doesn’t take this into account.

So how can this make it such an important factor. If relevance isn’t taken into account when tallying up the score, it doesn’t mean a thing.

A site gaining a link from a PageRank 3 site that’s relevant and provides you with anchor text will be far more beneficial than a link from some random site using your domain name as the link.

PageRank is one of so many factors that obsessing about more important areas is going to be more beneficial to you, your site and your customers.

Give your customers a site they can use, interact with, find in the rankings and build relevant optimised links to it.

PageRank has minimal effect and should receive the type of billing it does. Sure it’s important to build links and it’s nice to see PageRank acknowledge this with a lovely score. But beyond that it’s meaningless. Not enough information is taken into account when calculating the score.

Its time for everyone to get over it and move on to what is important.

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Andy Williams
About the author

Andy Williams

Andy Williams will be giving you useful insights into local search and the overall SEO landscape. Andy has over 10 years experience in the SEO industry including 2 years as the in-house SEO consultant with a leading Web Design company.

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