5 Reasons PageRank Doesn't Matter

Ian Lurie

OK, that’s a bit extreme. I should say ‘5 reasons pagerank matters less than you think’:

For those who don’t know, PageRank is the value that Google assigns to your site, based on incoming links, the quality of those links, and a number of other things they’ll never tell us. If you want to learn way too much about pagerank, Google it and then read one of the many articles that folks have written.

Basically, pagerank is an assessment of just how many ‘votes’ your site gets in the overall hierarchy of the entire internet.

That number is then simplified and delivered to anyone who uses the Google Toolbar. It looks like this:

Pagerank in the Google Toolbar

And here’s why it just doesn’t matter that much:

Pagerank isn’t the only factor in ranking your site. Content quality, keyword occurrence, code quality and a host of other factors matter, too.

The pagerank we see is innaccurate. The true pagerank of your site is actually a floating point (meaning Really Big) number. When Google dumbs it down to a number between 1 and 10 that pretty much kills its value as a metric.

Pagerank doesn’t equate to rank for a keyphrase. Pagerank is an overall measure of your site. On its own, it has very little to do with keyword-specific relevance. For example: According to the Google toolbar, Dessy.com has a lower pagerank than TheKnot.com. Dessy has a 6/10, TheKnot has a 7/10. That’s orders of magnitude. But Dessy.com is number 1 for ‘bridesmaid dresses’, while TheKnot isn’t on the first page of the search results. Clearly, pagerank isn’ t the only thing at work here.

The pagerank you see is out of date. Google only updates the Toolbar pagerank every so often. Most of the time, the numbers you see there are old news.

No one buys from you because of your pagerank. Even if you did have the best pagerank on earth, would that guarantee customers? If your site sucks, having an 8/10 pagerank is pretty poor compensation.

Am I saying ignore pagerank? No. If your pagerank suddenly drops from 5 to 0, that may mean you’re being penalized. If it climbs more than 2 spots, chances are something good is happening. But don’t judge the success or failure of your SEO efforts or web site based on that one little number.

Don’t take my word for it. Read Matt Cutts’ post about pagerank. He works at Google, after all…

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. PageRank only really comes into play for selling advertising and for webmasters to boast about. At the end of the day it’s traditional SEO techniques that drive customers to your site in the first place – customers who will hopefully part with their cash and buy your product. I agree – people obsess too much about PR – it’s not the be all and end all.

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