Google Pagerank Made-Up Mayhem

Ian Lurie

There’s a veritable storm of blog posts going around right now regarding a sudden drop in Toolbar Pagerank for a bunch of sites. Marketing Pilgrim, Problogger, Center Networks, Blogstorm and even the normally thoughtful Copyblogger (sorry Brian – my bad) are all sounding a bit shrill. Let me clue you in to something:

Toolbar pagerank doesn’t matter. And: Smart SEO’s don’t care about it.

Here’s why:

Toolbar pagerank is a modified, manipulated, out of date number. It’s an attempt to take a point value ranging from 0 into the billions (trillions?) and assign it a number from 1-10. Forget about it. Google has long reported that the pagerank displayed in their toolbar is completely inaccurate.

Actual pagerank is a number assigned each indexed page on the internet. It falls on a huge scale. And, it no doubt includes dozens of factors that Google’s added since they first developed the concept. You don’t know this one. You can’t. So don’t worry about it.

Instead, worry about your rankings.

Some folks are concerned that they can’t charge as much for their ads now, because their pagerank dropped. If you’re basing your advertising values on pagerank, you’re nuts. Switch to pageviews, visits and time-on-site, instead.

Here’s when you should worry about a pagerank change:

  1. Your pagerank drops to 0 and stays there. Ignore this if you’re a brand-new site. It can take months for toolbar pagerank to stabilize.
  2. A pagerank drop is accompanied by a sudden drop in actual rankings. Your search ranking is what really matters, right?!
  3. Your pagerank toolbar indicator turns gray, which may mean you’ve been banned.

That’s it. Give Matt Cutts a break, OK?

Note: Many of our clients’ sites have lost 2-3 points of toolbar pagerank, too, in the last week. But their search rankings have stayed exactly the same.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is 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, 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

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  1. Ian, I think you missed the humor in my post. I’m thrilled this happened, because it validates everything I’ve been saying.
    I don’t care about PageRank.

  2. Oh, uh, that’s what I meant. Cough cough….
    Sorry Brian. You’ll note I was surprised when I (mistakenly) thought you were freaked out about it all.

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