In the Google Q&A #March hangout, Andrey Lipattsev who is a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google (Ireland) was asked a slew of questions from experts in the SEO industry. The first question asked at the 3:18 mark was regarding the Google PageRank Toolbar, “Why remove the PageRank Toolbar if PageRank is still a part of Google’s ranking algorithm?”
Andrey answered the question with a question, “Why do you think it was useful in the first place?” In fact, Google has countlessly instructed webmasters, “don’t bother thinking about it” as they haven’t updated this metric within the Google PageRank Toolbar since December 6, 2013. What is Google Pagerank, you ask? Well, let me explain.
What is Google PageRank?
Google’s algorithms rely on over 200 ranking signals, and Pagerank was one of their very first ranking signals built by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while at Stanford University. Pagerank is basically measured by the number and quality of incoming links to your website. In other words, each link to your website from another website contributes to your website’s PageRank. But keep in mind, not all links are created equal.
Unfortunately, there are SEOs out there that try to game the system, and Google works extremely hard to combat them. They want to ensure superb user experience (UX) by identifying spammy links and other link schemes that negatively impact their search results.
Why Did SEOs Use PageRank?
Since Google’s engineers stopped updating the Toolbar, the PageRank metric simply lost it’s value. However, when Google did keep it current, SEOs used the metric to identify what Google’s algorithm thought of a website. Ammon Jones used an example of a client coming to him for SEO advice. The client would have 1,000s of pages, but the website was only receiving a Toolbar PageRank of 2 (PR2). This told Ammon that the Googlebot would not view the website as a high priority, and simply not crawl the website on a regular basis. They may be giving Google more content than it could digest to determine where the true value was for this particular website.
On the flip side, Google PageRank was used and abused by unethical SEOs. It had a scale of 0-10, and some SEOs would sell links from highly rated websites like PR5 and above.
Why Did the Google PageRank Toolbar Get Removed?
After Andrey received feedback on why SEOs found the Google PageRank Toolbar useful, he went on to explain why Google removed it. He said, “It wasn’t so much removed as it died a natural death more than anything.” He went on to say, “Nobody was looking at it, and nobody was developing it because it wasn’t bringing very much value internally. Essentially, it became so out of date, going back to Ammon’s first points about its usefulness, it kind of all went away.” He explained for two reasons that it was no longer a valid benchmark because it was out of date, and there are so many other ranking factors, a PR2 could still outrank a PR8.
In Ammon’s example, he thought it impacted how Googlebot would crawl the website or how a website was indexed. However, Andrey explained it was suppose to be a reflection of the actual PageRank that it has no bearing on how often a page is crawled. Then he reiterated, “But there is a lot of other things in play there that also need to be taken into account. So no matter what you’re thinking about, whether crawling or ranking, it’s a.) gradually become just one thing out of very many, and therefore not reflected on the real picture. And b.) it’s not reflecting what it was suppose to reflect in the first place so it wasn’t very useful. And as I said, c.) you know, it became something that it was never suppose to be. It became something over currency really, for some SEOs.”
And he is absolutely right as I mentioned earlier, SEOs would sell links from highly scored PR sites, see? Simply put, Google wants you to use more measureable statisitcs to judge the success of your website through Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Google Q&A #March: Google PageRank Toolbar
Want to listen in on the entire conversation? Just click the video below, and we’ll take you right to the time they start the discussion:
Google PageRank Conclusion
Based on Andrey’s answer, they simply let the Google PageRank Toolbar die a natural death because they simply were not interested in it anymore. Plus, the abuse it received when “bad SEOs” would try to utilize the information for financial gain.
As we always tell our partners, ranking on Google’s first page is a privilege not a right. If you manipulate Google Search to rank on the first page, it will only last for a short amount of time. The site will eventually get penalized. If you want to rank on Google’s first page and stay there for the long haul, you better do your best to build your online authority naturally and earn your ranking.