Google has made big SEO news: it is shutting down its PageRank toolbar. Industry experts have been waiting for the search engine to update this tool and now Google is confirming that PageRank is no longer available to the public, but it is still using the information privately for search rankings.
What is PageRank?
Let’s back up a little. What exactly is PageRank? Named after Larry Page, a Google founder, PageRank is an algorithm that Google uses to determine how websites are ranked in its search results.
The algorithm mathematically assigns every web page a number between zero and 10. The higher a page’s rank, the more likely it is to come up as a top search result. The number is heavily influenced by a site’s backlinks.
Many SEO experts use PageRank scores to determine how well a page is optimised and what sites they should target for link building.
While PageRank numbers have been a good way to get a quick glimpse at a site’s search power, over focusing on the score can backfire. Experts that were determined to raise their page’s PageRank would spend a lot of time building spammy links and buying and selling links.
This threatened the quality of Google search results, as the search engine used backlinks as a way to measure a site’s quality and importance. These link building practices didn’t help internet users either, as Google had a harder time ranking truly valuable content higher than spammy content.
Emphasis on Quality
In recent years, Google has put a greater emphasis on the quality of a website and its content. While links are still a vital part of a page’s ranking, other factors like site quality, traffic, speed and onsite optimisation are also very important.
This focus on quality means that Google’s search results pages are full of more helpful, valuable content and that spammy content no longer gets high rankings. It also means internet users can more easily find what they are looking for and that legitimate sites and businesses can be found by their target markets more easily.
What to do Now
It’s important to note that while the data that powers the PageRank toolbar, and other tools that display a site’s PageRank, is no longer available to the public, Google is still using it. In other words, PageRank is still an important part of SEO, but now site owners won’t be able to rely on the numerical ranking.
Google’s move may be a signal that site owners should focus less on scores and numbers and more on the quality of their website and content if they want to achieve higher rankings.
To get better rankings you should use high-quality SEO tactics and work to make your site a legitimately valuable resource full of excellent content that attracts your market. While you should use link building, use it wisely by building natural, relevant links on other high quality sites.
The absence of the PageRank tool may change the way you look at some aspects of your SEO strategy, but in the end, the most successful and effective tactics won’t change.