Google PageRank is NOT Dead
A recent article in the Huffington Post is titled “With Page Rank (Presumably) Gone, Will SEO Survive?” and the article then goes on to discuss a web browser extension that allows you to easily know a sites PageRank number.
What’s being retired is what is called PageRank Toolbar, which is not the same thing as PageRank.
PageRank is the algorithm that made Google into Google. Back in the day, there were dozens of search engines and Internet directories, all of which produced different results.
We collectively agreed their search engine produced better results by the fact that we collectively started using it more and more instead of other options.
PageRank is a voting system where web pages give authority to each by linking to each other. A high authority page gives out high authority links, while a low authority page gives out low authority links.
This is what made Google. In the beginning this voting system was THE search signal. It was so central to how search results were presented that the original name of the search engine was BackRub.
Today there are 220+ search signals, of which PageRank is just one, although one of the most important ones.
PageRank Toolbar was two things: 1) A browser extension that allowed you to display the PageRank number (from 0 to 10) of the website of the page you’re viewing. 2) A database of some sort where the numbers were fetched from when requested.
What Google is stopping is the PageRank Toolbar database, thereby rendering PageRank Toolbar useless.
Why This Makes Sense
The PageRank number was one small aspect of the “value” of a webpage and it was a misleading at best.
Webpages have PageRank, whereas the tool reported on the PageRank number of the site. Perhaps the sites number was an averaging of the numbers for all the pages. I’m not sure and it no longer matters.
Anyway, among some people it caused a strong focus on linking to and seeking links from sites based on their PageRank number, rather than linking between pages and sites based on the relevance of the content of the web pages.
Image if you’re trying to find your ways through the woods with a map and compass that gives false readings. If you’re trying to head north, and you know your compass is broken, does it not make sense to toss the compass and start walking in the direction of the Big Dipper?
Effectively this is what Google has done. They took a bad compass many people thought gave good answers and tossed it out.
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