Google Page Rank – It’s Well Past Time to Get Over it

Share to Reddit

If You Won’t Listen to me, Listen to Google

It’s time for a little bit of credit where credit is due here. I’ve said before that Google very rarely gives SEO advice that I think is particularly useful but when they do, they do. At the end of last month the Google Webmaster Central Blog published Beyond PageRank: Graduating to actionable metrics.

I’m so sick of hearing about PageRank and misleading advice given to beginners in SEO you wouldn’t believe it. I don’t know if it’s because the word “rank” is in there but people just seem to latch onto PageRank and obsess on it. I’ve had web design and marketing people ernestly explain to me how SEO is all about PageRank and upping PageRank. I’ve heard well meaning website owners give presentations explaining how it’s all about PageRank to rooms full of site owners who came to learn about marketing their sites. It’s not at all unusual to hear people authoritatively explaining the importance of PageRank and not even be sure whether they mean PageRank or the rank your page has in the search results. All of this many years after PageRank ceased having any meaningful correlation with your search engine ranking.

The PageRank that you see in the Toolbar isn’t even accurate. It’s not nearly accurate. It’s only updated a few times a year and it reduces PR to a scale of 1-10 (hiding astronomically large differences).

“So the PR you see publicly is different from the number our algorithm actually uses for ranking”

That’s important but it’s only the beginning of why an obsession with PageRank is not going to help your SEO.

The Google article linked to above contains this quote from 2008:

“The most famous part of our ranking algorithm is PageRank, an algorithm developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who founded Google. PageRank is still in use today, but it is now a part of a much larger system.”

Google was launched in 1998. They talk about making around 9 improvements a week.

PageRank simply is not a big part of why your page will rank better or worse. It is presumably still a factor but it is nowhere near the defining factor that so many beginners seem to think. Google uses 100s of signals in its algorythm. PageRank is a signal that gives a measure of what I call “neutral page importance”. It is based on links and essentially measures which pages on the web are most important based on which have most links. (It goes much further than this by recursively considering which pages the most important pages link to etc. but I’ll not go into all that here).

There is much more that goes into serving the best result for a query than that. If there wasn’t, you could just serve the Yahoo homepage, or Facebook’s, or whatever has the highest PR as the result to every query. That’d be pretty stupid wouldn’t it?

Instead a search engine considers relevance, intent, trust etc. and makes use of many different signals to find really good, relevant resources and screen out junk.

Part of this is the fault of the Internet. If you are learning about SEO, you may well be reading forums where someone else is repeating a blog post they read 3 years ago, written by someone with 2001 ideas of what makes a web page rank. This is why I’m writing this post.

Links are still important but there are many more link signals than you will ever understand while obsessing about PageRank.

It’s time to get over the PageRank obsession and as Google put it “Graduate to actionable metrics”.

If you are interested in Google ranking factors you might find this post worth a read:

Google Ranking Factors 2011 – Top 4 Signals to Watch

Related posts:

  1. Matt Cutts on How Google Search Works

Tags: , , ,

Share to Reddit

4 Responses to “Google Page Rank – It’s Well Past Time to Get Over it”

  1. Niall Flynn says:

    Nice article, I agree PR is not the be all and end all it can be made out to be. Glad to see some actual confirmation from Google.

  2. SiteStream SEO says:

    Thanks Niall

    I think if we were to dig back through Google statements for a few years we would probably find a few places where they have tried to encourage webmasters not to focus so much on PR.

    The thing I liked about this post was that it went out of its way to make a straightforward, reasoned case that the people who look to Google for advice can understand.

  3. says:

    Google Page Rank – It’s Well Past Time to Get Over it…

    If You Won’t Listen to me, Listen to Google. I’m so sick of hearing about PageRank and misleading advice given to beginners in SEO you wouldn’t believe it. So I was very happy to see a Google post: “Beyond PageRank: Graduating to actionable metrics”…

  4. [...] answers and you can never figure them out.  It’s really important though to understand that this is NOT all or even mostly about Page Rank.  Yes Google is looking to serve sites and pages with reputation but it needs to be the most [...]