Ding. Dong. PageRank is dead! On April 15th, Google finally pulled the plug on PageRank. PageRank was the grandfather of all SEO metrics. Now, it is gone, leaving domain managers and SEOs questioning how that will affect them.
In the beginning, PageRank was often seen as the end all, be all of SEO effectiveness and site importance. PageRank was heavily relied on by SEOs because it was the easiest barometer to navigate. Now, that barometer is gone, leaving behind certain legacies.
What PageRank Meant in the Beginning
In the early Internet Explorer days, there was a little green meter on the Google toolbar. The toolbar was an add-on feature that could be added by users. Most people probably did not notice the meter was even there. If they did, it was probably because they were SEO professionals.
After the emergence of Google Chrome, the toolbar became slightly useless. The PageRank meter was not available on the Chrome browser, so it became harder to gauge rank without it and it was not there to show users the importance of the site that they were on.
Repercussions for SEOs
PageRank is no more. That much is true. What does this mean then for SEO professionals and webmasters? Several things, actually.
The biggest change following the death of PageRank is links. After all, linking was the biggest thing to come out of PageRank. The way that PageRank worked was that it analyzed the importance of any given website based on numerous factors. The biggest factor being how many sites linked back to yours.
After this became widely known, the link farming and spamming epidemic began. Suddenly, links were being bought and sold like cattle at an auction. We cannot forget to mention the links for websites and products that were suddenly being dropped in forums, comment sections, and nearly anywhere that text could be input on websites.
What does it mean now that PageRank is gone? It means that linking back to a site is still important for SERP recognition and site importance. The main difference is that linking will not have the meaning as it once did. Google has long been wise to link spammers and farmers. They have developed technology so that their algorithms can detect spam. Now, those spam links mean even less to Google and less to the public with the absence of the visible ranking system.
2. Ranking Metrics
PageRank can no longer be used as a method to gauge website importance as it is no longer available. That means that domain managers and SEO professionals can no longer rely on the rankings in their assessments of their or their client’s websites. To be fair, many SEOs already knew that PageRank could not be counted on. We have long foreseen the low importance of PageRank, as well given how little Google had updated PageRank in recent years.
Majestic Metrics from Moz Blog, for instance, is considered to be a better measurement of page effectiveness. Unlike PageRank when it was more active, it is regularly updated and still takes multiple factors into consideration.
3. PageRank Still Counts, Actually
While we have been talking a lot about PageRank being dead, that is not the full truth. PageRank, as we know it, is dead. PageRank is still being used by Google. The only difference is that the metric is no longer available to the public. This means that SEOs can no longer claim to get a website a certain PageRank score through their help. There is just no way to know exactly what a website ranks anymore.
PageRank, therefore, still matters to Google. It is just one of their many signaling factors for their top secret algorithms. As such, back linking is still important to get a site on the first page of the SERPs and should be awarded special attention by SEOs and managers.
4. Less Transparency
One of the biggest draws to PageRank was transparency. Google is not exactly forthcoming with the interworking of their algorithms or the importance of all their signaling factors. PageRank was the one thing that was available to the public. Now, it will go back into the Google vault with the rest of their secrets. SEO now becomes more of trial and error strategy coupled with experience.
The last impression of PageRank will continue to be felt for years to come even though it is no longer available to the public. There is no telling what the full repercussions of PageRank will be.
Repercussions for Domainers
Overall the people most impacted by the end of PageRank are domainers. Those people who were buying domains based on PageRank value for marketing potential will need to rely on other stats. This may be pretty frustrating for those who’ve clung to PageRank in assessing the value of a domain, but fortunately there are plenty of reliable metrics for measuring the value of a domain.
Of course there’s likely small snippets of PR ratings historically recorded prior to the PageRank shutdown, but people need to remember that PageRank alone has not been the best way to evaluate the quality of a domain. The end of PageRank may have a negative impact on domain investors, but this change forces all domainers to look at other metrics to gauge the quality of a domain. In the long run, this will benefit domain investors and their customers who still utilize domains for their marketing campaigns.
While there are still many people frustrated and frantically reaching out to experts about the shutdown of PageRank, it was time to close the book on this era of Google. Like all change there will be some growing pains, but with any luck most of you will benefit from this change in the long run. Just remember to adapt and you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel.