Thoughts on Google PageRank

There has been quite some debate in certain circles of the blogosphere with respect to what has been happening with Google’s PageRank (PR). Some websites have experienced a significant drop in PR, some claim that bloggers who make earnings through paid postings have been penalised, some even think that Google, as a monopolist, is censoring a segment of the Internet. One cannot deny that the PR values for a number of websites have changed, but people must also realise what PageRank really is.

For those unfamiliar with the term, PageRank is the heart of a trademarked algorithm that Google uses to power it’s search engine. It’s a link analysis algorithm that is based around gauging the “importance” of a web page by how many other web pages link to it. Not only does it take into account how many pages link to the page in question, but also, their own rank and the number and relevance of pages that link to them. A few years ago, Google made the decision to expose this Page Rank figure to webmasters and users around the web, probably to help them optimise their sites and understand their placing in their index. And this is what is the cause of the problem today.

See, a whole industry has been spawned around PR. If you search for the term in Google, you will find hundreds of websites and companies claiming to be Search Engine Optimisation experts who can help you increase your Page Rank. Not only this, but in the absence of any decent metrics for site comparison, Page Rank has become the cornerstone of all “paid blogging” efforts and people selling space on their website.

And this is a problem. In a pure sense, the PR of a website is no indication of the quality of a website. PR can be manipulated, PR can be bought and sold and website owners, particularly bloggers run the danger of forgetting that what really draws people to the website is the quality of the content there. PR is no measure of “value” that a website brings to the Internet, it’s simply Google’s internal metric which it uses to tailor it’s search results.

I especially find it interesting that people claim that Google is “censoring” the Internet, that it is being “anti-competitive” and that it’s ruining their websites. Page Rank is a comparative index and most of all, the index actually belongs to Google. Your PR may have changed, but does it mean you can no longer find your site when you search for it in Google? Has it actually changed the number of page hits your site gets? Does it make your content less relevant?

My advice to everyone out there is this: Stop worrying about your PR and focus on producing some real, genuine, valuable content. This is what brings people to your website and gets them to come back again. If Google decided to set everybody’s PR to 0, or to stop publishing it altogether (it’s certainly their prerogative to do this), what would this really mean to you, your business and the people who visit your website? Focus on your content, whatever Google does to Page Rank, the market will adjust.

12 comments

  1. Unfortunately, this response means I no longer have a completely contrived means of making totally illogical snap judgements about somebody’s site. Without semi-sensible PageRank, an entire means of ridicule has been shut off and I am reduced to looking for boobs in the banner ads again.

  2. I have to say that it was well stated. Content should be the priority however there are many bloggers making their living now with thire blogs and this hit to the PR is detrimental only because that is what is being used as a metric. If my blog was my sole income then I would be none to happy with the PR slam. However it is not so I am not as panicked. I don’t begrudge anyone who is. I think the arbitrary rank slams suck but I agree that content is what brings in the readers, so we need to find other metrics to use to promote the quality and thus ability to generate money from our blogs.

  3. Great article Owen… if not a little de javu for me.! You’re right though (as always) Content is King – unfortunately though, as Google has taken over the world – even if you have created the ultimate site – if it doesnt appear on those first couple of “golden” results pages then attracting NEW visitors is going to be an uphill struggle.

    On the other hand – there’s always AdWords..!!

  4. It would be nice to think that this remains just a visual slur on a website viewable by I don’t know how many Google users, but the next stage might be penalties that search results.

    I am fully aware of how PageRank works, how it can be cheated, and how it can be controlled for specific benefits.

    Ultimately by controlling “Google Juice” on my site, I can rank fairly well for lots of things without really having to try too hard.

    However the decrease does reflect in many ways how people react when visiting my site, whether I am trying to promote something, or just whether I am chosen for a press interview.

  5. It’s all very well sitting there producing real, valuable content… but if nobody reads it because it doesn’t turn up in searches and subsequently get linked to…

    [)amien

  6. Yeppers. PR was never meant to be static either. You should expect it to change. I mean, you’ve got new sites, new blogs, new content coming on every second. It’s a dynamic fluid place, this thing we call the web. And as new sites come online, and as established sites languish and die, and while thriving sites grow and improve – all those sites have to be taken into consideration for PR to have any meaning whatsoever.

    BTW, my PR did drop. So I’m not saying this out of some kind of sense of superiority or anything.

  7. @Andy: I suppose it’s too early to tell whether the PR drop will have any real impact on the amount of traffic your site experiences. It will be interesting in a couple of months time to have a look at your stats and see if there was a real drop in traffic. My gut feel is that there won’t be a perceptible drop.

    The question is: is it really right for website A to rank higher than website B if it has better PR, or if it has better content ?

  8. Excellent post. As a fairly new blogger and an even newer paid to post blogger, I agree, content is so important. I also believe that as a blogger, it’s important to get out there and read other blogs, leave good, on-topic comments, be involved in discussions. It seems that many higher PR blogs have become caught up in their own blog and perhaps have forgotten to get out and visit in the blogosphere once in a while. I can have all the great content I want, but if I don’t let anyone know I’m around, “invite” them to my site, no one will come to read it.

  9. Wonderful post Owen. its very interesting to read this post. i am also searching for this kind of information about Google PR.

    Andy: you are my favaourite blogger. i love to read all your post. i simply say that you are one of the Hero of SEO bloggers. i do have a question in my mind Andy, i do know that website will get good rank if it has really a good Valuable content but how about the link exchange? i want to know whether Link Exchange is playing any important role in increasing PR.

  10. I couldn’t agree more regarding content being the number one priority. However, what good is great content if no one is visiting? There are tools available to make the ‘Google Tyrany’ work to your advantage. Check out Nemeas.com, for example. Putting PR aside is great in theory, but its not realistic if you want to have a successful site or business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.