For the past few weeks, blogosphere is teeming with posts on Google and its latest PageRank update. The recent update has raised a lot of hues and cries against Google, as a large number of popular and high ranking websites lost their PR by as much as -2. The action was part of Google’s plan to eradicate paid links and sponsored posts as it meddled with Google Ranking system. The penalties were not totally unexpected, as Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, had warned about selling links with the intention of passing PR almost two years back. Still the public opinion was against Google was heavy with many webmasters deciding to boycott Google and its services.

PageRank[1, 2, 3] is the ranking system used by Google for finding out the importance of a webpage, for their search engine. The system grades every webpage in a numerical scale ranging from 0 to 10, depending on the number of backlinks it has got from other websites. Links from high PageRank websites boosts your PR much higher, compared to links from low PR websites. Google’s SERP is not entirely based on PageRank, as it would have resulted in a  lot or irrelevant results like Live Search. Among equally important pages, the ones having higher PR was given a higher importance. This helps in countering content copying, as most of the sites will be linking to the original website.

Initially the PageRank was limited to internal use and was not available to the public. But later Google integrated a visual pagerank bar to the Google Toolbar and it didn’t take much time for the webmaster world to accept PageRank as the best indicator of the value of a website. And soon the PageRank of the homepage became the symbol of a site’s prestige, value and marketability. And with the increase in importance of PR, improving a site’s PR became one of the prime objectives of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Several white hat and black hat methods were developed for improving the PageRank of a site. And most of the methods were cracked down by Google. But selling paid links was something Google was unable to stop, until recently.

Another major reason for PageRank getting its present day (or pre-october days?) significance was that most of the advertisers used to give much importance to PR, while choosing the sites to advertise on. Now that many of the top sites selling links are having lower PR, there is no point in continuing the policy. If advertisers don’t care much about PR, then most of the webmasters will be giving any even lesser importance to PageRank, which is reflected by the recent boycotts. Hence I too think Jamie is right in saying that PageRank is dead as a dodo.

Till now PageRank analysis had been the best method for evaluating the importance of a website. And it served as the basis for buying sites and links. But now with both PageRank and Alexa ranking dead, webmasters have to find an alternate method for evaluating websites.

11 thoughts on “End of PageRank. What comes next?

  1. My traffic has exploded since around the time my PR started going down. The result of better content and networking with others. Now with PayPerPost rolling out Argus I’m much less concerned with my PR, which by the way was at 6 for years.

    it’s harder for search engines to know which links can be trusted. – Matt Cutts

    Don’t get me wrong I love Google, but with comments like the above and seeing their stock hit $700 a share It is quite obvious money bloggers are getting hit.

    At this point, someone usually asks me: “But can’t you just not count the bad links? On the dailycal.org, I see the words ‘Sponsored Resources’. Can’t search engines detect paid links?” Yes, Google has a variety of algorithmic methods of detecting such links, and they work pretty well. But these links make it harder for Google (and other search engines) to determine how much to trust each link. A lot of effort is expended that could be otherwise be spent on improving core quality (relevance, coverage, freshness, etc.).

    Excuse me but I’ve had this page online since 2000. If after 7 years you don’t trust my site then screw you.

    1. Many people like CopyBlogger have increased their traffic by talking about the lost PR. But still I would prefer the PR as it is a better investment.

      What I don’t like about Google is that almost all their services are entirely dependant on webmasters, and still they are acting against us. Adsense, Analytics, Search Engine etc are dependant on our websites. Unfortunately, they know very well that webmasters won’t unite and stand against them.

  2. I seriously doubt PageRank is dead. The algorithm has just been further adjusted to account for paid links. Hopefully it will get webmasters back to the notion that good, quality sites get rewarded.

  3. I don’t think either PageRank is dead. It is just transforming. It is sorting out and filtering web sites. It does made some mistakes, but lots of them (i.e. PageRank wrong decreases) have been fixed.

  4. Google may continue to use PageRank for ranking websites. But I don’t think webmasters are going to give the old importance to PR anymore.

    Almost all are running websites for money. If advertisors asks for dofollow links, then most of the webmasters will be willing to do that.

  5. Page rank is waning in power. It is only a valuable concept if people reply on it, give it creedance. As more and more advertisers and publishers are moving away from using PR as an indicator, we see more of a focus on traffic.

    Page Rank is a fallen god in many ways, jealous of its subjects.

    1. A post on Matt Cutt’s blog (almost an year back), hinted that Google will be taking steps to ensure that PageRank does not flow through sponsored links, even if the the linking page has high PR. In such a situation the only consideration for advertisers will be the site’s traffic.

      I won’t blame Google for being strict about PR. It is the base of their search results ranking algorithm and they should try to improve it and prevent foul plays.

Comments are now closed.