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Google's PageRank - Should it be discontinued?

As you might have noticed, Google wasn't displaying the PageRank information from 27 May to 30 May. The PageRank bar in the Google toolbar was grayed out for every web page.

Many webmasters speculated that Google might have discontinued the PageRank information. However, it seems that this was only a temporary glitch and that Google will keep the PageRank display for some time.

Is the green PageRank bar really that important?

We explained it in the past in this newsletter. The official PageRank value that Google displays in the toolbar has little value for your ranking.

A Google employee even said that the PageRank meter was only for entertainment purposes. Many web sites with low PageRank have high rankings on Google.

What would happen if Google didn't display the PageRank information anymore?

If the PageRank information wasn't available anymore, webmasters wouldn't concentrate on a little green bar in their web browser but on more substantial factors.

For example, you could ask yourself the following questions if you want to optimize your web site:

  • Does my web site has enough content that is interesting to web surfers and search engines?
  • Is my web site linked to other web sites that have similar content that might be interesting to my web site visitors?
  • Do other web sites with related content link to my web site so that people who are interested in what I have to offer can find my web site?
  • Does the web page I want to trade links with offer interesting content (no matter what PageRank it might have)?

Ironically, that is exactly what Google expects from webmasters. On its official webmaster pages Google writes: "Make pages for users, not for search engines. [...] Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?".

What does this mean to your web site?

The PageRank of a web page shouldn't be the determining factor when optimizing your web site and choosing link partners. A link partner with a low PageRank that has a similar topic like your site will bring you much better visitors than an unrelated link partner with a high page rank.

If you see a good web site with good content that has a low PageRank you
should trade links with that site if that web site is useful for your
visitors. One day, that page might have a higher PageRank and it will still link back to you.

In addition, the PageRank you see in Google's toolbar is not the PageRank that Google uses for its algorithm. High Google rankings are the result of optimized web page content and good incoming links.

If you focus on your web site visitors, optimize your web page content and get good incoming links from related web sites, you'll get high rankings on Google and other important search engines (for details see recommended resources below).

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June 2005 search engine articles