I was pleased to notice that the Google PageRank for my site (middleearmedia.com) recently jumped up from 3 to 4. According to Google, PageRank reflects their view of how important a web page is. Or, in other words, it’s the relative value of any single page on the internet in relation to every page on the internet. To determine this, they consider more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Understandably, they keep their exact algorithm a secret.
As you might have guessed, the higher the PageRank, the more likely a page will appear at the top of the search results. Well, sort of. The problem is that Google shows us one score (Toolbar PageRank) that gets updated periodically (3 or 4 times per year) and uses a different score (actual PageRank) that is constantly being updated. So, we really don’t know the exact relationship between the visible Toolbar PageRank and the actual PageRank or how much either of them help or hurt our listing in Google search results.
Hold on though! Now Google is telling us that we shouldn’t focus on PageRank so much. In fact, they removed PageRank data from their Webmaster Tools recently. Apparently, there are other metrics that are far more important for website owners to track in terms of SEO. Some of these include traffic, relevancy and backlinks. Yes it’s true that the publicly visible PageRank (via the Google Toolbar) is updated infrequently, and therefore is inherently inaccurate, but people still use it as a benchmark.
One problem I see with Google telling us to ignore PageRank is that much of the online Advertising and Link Exchange that goes on is based on using Toolbar PageRank to determine value. So, why even give us a PageRank to look at if we’re supposed to ignore it, especially if it’s almost always out of date?