Why Google PageRanks Are Now Irrelevant

By no means am I an SEO expert -- although I did briefly temp at an SEO firm many moons ago -- but one thing I've always understood was an unassailable fact was that your Google PageRank was of paramount importance. Well, apparently you can now throw that notion right out the window. And if you haven't heard of PageRank, it's basically a link-analysis algorithm used by Google that "assigns a numerical weighting system to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of 'measuring' its relative importance within the set."

According to a post by networksolutions.com, this metric is quickly becoming obsolete, and here's why: Even if you… check your page rank, Google delays that information for up to nine months… making it useless for assessing your current [real-time] performance." In other words, as a tool to track your web presence, by the time you find out where you're at, it's clearly too little too late -- assuming the these guys are right about that gestation period.

From what I can tell, though, you shouldn't be discounting PageRank altogether. SEOmoz.org, the site that everyone at the firm I temped for swore by, late last year uploaded a video explaining what the deal is with it. The consensus does seem to be that PageRanks are updated unpredictably and sporadically. The video embedded right here lays out what PageRank is still good for:

if(!navigator.mimeTypes['application/x-shockwave-flash'] || navigator.userAgent.match(/Android/i)!==null)Wistia.VideoEmbed('wistia_453395',600,337,{videoUrl:'http://seomoz-cdn.wistia.com/deliveries/fc0b66d0b6d174419905444502678e0ac806e9fc.bin',stillUrl:'http://seomoz-cdn.wistia.com/deliveries/932398edc232728c7e5f607a0bb15b32451adda9.bin',distilleryUrl:'http://distillery.wistia.com/x',accountKey:'wistia-production_3161',mediaId:'wistia-production_453395',mediaDuration:831.73})

Google itself clarifies all this on its webmaster central page, in its FAQ over there. Here, take a look:

Q: My site's PageRank has gone up / gone down / not changed in months!
A: Don't worry. In fact, don't bother thinking about it. We only update the PageRank displayed in Google Toolbar a few times a year; this is our respectful hint for you to worry less about PageRank, which is just one of over 200 signals that can affect how your site is crawled, indexed and ranked. PageRank is an easy metric to focus on, but just because it's easy doesn't mean it's useful for you as a site owner. If you're looking for metrics, we'd encourage you to check out Analytics, think about conversion rates, ROI (return on investment), relevancy, or other metrics that actually correlate to meaningful gains for your website or business. 

So, if you're still fussing over your PageRank, maybe it's time to fuss over something a bit more important. Or just stop fussing altogether. You'll live longer and have fewer wrinkles! 

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a columnist for EGM. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

Contact Us