We gather here today to remember Google PageRank.
John Mueller confirms that Google is removing PageRank scores from the public eye completely. Google Toolbar and non-Chrome browsers may still show the scores for the next few weeks, but enjoy it while it lasts. That data will soon be unavailable—if it hasn’t disappeared already.
PageRank was pretty much the first algorithm Google used to put itself on the map. It incentivized users to use Google over other search engines like Lycos and Yahoo.
PageRank helped establish that building quality backlinks is a critical part of today’s SEO strategy. But PageRank also had its share of controversies. And now that it will be gone, ranking on Google becomes an even more mystifying process. No longer will you get to see how your webpage scores.
Remembering Google PageRank
PageRank’s visibility is dead, but no one’s exactly in mourning. And that’s because there hasn’t been much to mourn about recently.
PageRank scores haven’t been updated in ages, and Google had pretty much forecasted its eventual decay with the release of Chrome, which had no need for a toolbar since its search bar was built-in. There’s been little reason for users to download the Google PageRank toolbar, outside of the vain hope that PageRank would update again.
But it never did. And now, it never will.
Now we can look fondly—semi-fondly, anyway—at its rich history and controversial beginnings. At its best, it gave validation that you were doing something right with your website. A numeric indication showing your site’s importance. But at its worst, PageRank bred black hat SEO techniques like a plague.
In the 2000s, PageRank was seen as an indicator of how important users thought a page was according to its website ranking. Later, it was decided PageRank was what Google thought about a page, not users. As Google began gaining authority as the world’s Number One Search Engine, webmasters began to pursue PageRank using unsavory means like link spam to illegitimately increase their score. Hence the gradual drop in support of it.
But PageRank is still going to be part of Google’s ranking factors. Links are still just about the most important ranking factor there is. “Importance” has given way to things like “trust” and “authority.” And recent search engine rankings shows that the quality of the sites linking to you are incredibly important. The only thing that’s changing is that webmasters won’t feel pressured to game the system any longer. The temptation has been removed entirely.
Will comments still be filled with unrelated garbage links? A practice which arose from the rise of PageRank? Probably. Old habits die hard, after all. But that’s what the nofollow tag is for. PageRank will continue to exist.
What to Do in a Post-PageRank World
So how can you tell if your search engine optimization efforts are working? Is all your hard work paying off? Without that visual score provided by PageRank, how do you know if you’re doing well?
Your ranking position on the SERPS should be a pretty good indication of your site’s performance. If your site moves up, good job! You’re doing everything Google wants. You can also check Google Search Console and see if you have any warnings. If things are all-clear, keep up the good work.
The only thing for sure is to follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. If you focus on delivering user-oriented content and practices—not trying to cheat your Google PageRank score like in the old days—you’ll end up with a site both Google and users will love.