Why Do Some SEOs Want Toolbar PageRank To Go Away?

Jan 31, 2007 - 6:55 am 17 by
Filed Under Google Updates

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion over the PageRank score found within Google's Toolbar. So I thought I explain why I, and many other SEOs/SEM reporters would love to see the PageRank score disappear from the Google Toolbar.

Back in the good old days, SEOs used to do whatever they could to increase their PageRank. If you had a high PageRank, typically a 7 or higher - you were set. You could literally rank for almost anything, if you also followed that up with good, on-page SEO work. That quickly went away, I believe, with the florida update of November/December 2003. In any event, SEOs used to wait for the toolbar PageRank to update, to see how they did in getting links from high PageRank sites. If they did a good job with that, they would see their PR increase and immediately see their rankings improve. SEOs were able to see an update coming, when the various Google Data Centers didn't match each other. Google rankings would change on some data centers, the link counts would change and the PageRank would change. Hence, the term, the Google Dance. Those days are pretty much over. Google is now changing almost daily. Google's current link count is almost useless at the time being. Google's data centers are frequently updating.

Ever since then, top SEOs and even Google engineers have been pushing to explain that PageRank is not as important as it once was. In fact, some go to extremes to declare Google PageRank Lunacy, in Sweden, we had a Google representative tell us that the link command was not so useful, later we had someone quote Google as saying PageRank is for Entertainment Purposes Only, which was then refuted by GoogleGuy. We had two other posts that discussed GoogleGuy Once Again Responds to Link Command and Why Does Google Show Old PageRank Values?

All that understood, it is clear that many would like to see the PageRank score go away from the Google toolbar. I am confident, this won't happen soon. I would say that most engineers would probably like to see it go away. But the marketing folks probably would not. I am not talking for Google her, I am just throwing out my feelings on it.

So we see that people are or were obsessed with PageRank, and rightly so. Hence why SEOs and reporters and even some Googlers wanted to tell people to not live and die by it. Some were extreme in their message, but for good reason.

So what is the bottom line at this time on PageRank found within the toolbar?

As Matt Cutts wrote back in his more about PageRank post:

At some point we take our internal PageRanks, put them on a 0-10 scale, and export them so that they’re visible to Google Toolbar users. If you’re splitting hairs about the exact date that backlinks were taken from, you’re probably suffering from “B.O.” (backlink obsession) and should stop and go do something else for a bit until the backlink obsession passes.

PageRank in the toolbar does show you something about the site. But we are far past the days where a Google PageRank update in the toolbar would have almost an immediate impact on your rankings in Google. This is important and you should not obsess over it. It is an indicator of the quality of links you have to your site, but the indicator is old and is not real time - so you need to understand this.

I hope that explains some of the questions out there on Toolbar PageRank, why SEOs fight about it and what it really is at this point in time.

Forum discussion at Search Engine Roundtable Forums.


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