Chris Sears

Google Page Rank – Is it still a useful metric?

Posted by to SEO
Google Page Rank – Is it still a useful metric?

In short, no. PageRank was last updated in December 2013, making way for a host of other, more up to date tools. It was used as an indication of page strength but with so many changes happening in the world of SEO, we really need to be working with tools designed for the current landscape.

What is Page Rank?

Named after Google CEO Larry Page, Page Rank is an outdated algorithm that was used to calculate a page’s strength by looking at the backlink profile. It looks at backlinks pointing to that page as votes and takes into account quality and quantity of backlinks and a couple of other factors to determine the final PageRank score on a scale from 1 to 10.

It was initially launched in January 2006 and was maintained quite regularly for 8 years before receiving the final update in December 2013. During that time it was a great way for both users and SEOs to glance at a single score to determine the strength and legitimacy of a website.

For the technical info about the algorithm, take a look at the Wikipedia page.

Page Rank update history

Over that 8 year period there was a total of 33 updates, as listed below:

2013 PageRank Updates

  • December 6th
  • February 4th

2012 PageRank Updates

  • November 7th
  • August 2nd
  • May 2nd
  • February 7th

2011 PageRank Updates

  • November 8th
  • June 27th
  • January 20th

2010 PageRank Updates

  • April 3rd

2009 PageRank Updates

  • December 30th
  • October 30th
  • June 25th
  • May 27th
  • April 1st

2008 PageRank Updates

  • December 31st
  • September 26th
  • July 25th
  • April 30th
  • February 29th

2007 PageRank Updates

  • December 12th
  • October 28th
  • April 30th
  • January 25th
  • January 10th

2006 PageRank Updates

  • September 28th
  • July 30th
  • April 7th
  • April 4th
  • May 27th
  • February 18th
  • January 30th
  • January 4th

Why doesn’t Google just disable the PageRank toolbar?

This seems to be a simple and obvious question but according to the head of Google’s Web Spam team, Matt Cutts, there are still plenty of users who rely on this toolbar for a rough indication of page quality.

Rather than paraphrasing the man himself, take a look at Matt’s video below where he directly answers this exact question.

What can we use instead?

There are other tools available that provide a similar score based on current, proprietary algorithms. As with most SEO tools there are seemingly countless options available but as far as market leaders go, there are only three that we’re aware of at this stage and while they each have their pros, cons and nifty features, the basic functionality is virtually the same.

Open Site Explorer (Moz)

Site Explorer (Majestic)

Ahrefs

Each of these tools offers their own metrics for a more relevant strength score.

Our SEO team have used each of these tools for around 6 months and have nothing but positive feedback for all three. While full functionality does require a paid subscription, each one has a cut-down trial that you can use to test it for yourself.

If you are completely new to SEO, you may want to go with Open Site Explorer from Moz simply because they also offer so much fantastic information and as you would expect, they often reference their own suite of tools so you can simply follow their info directly rather than translating suggestions to a different tool.

The PageRank Toolbar is still useful!

While keeping an outdated tool live for people to use may not seem like the best solution, it does still offer a very rough indication of strength. More importantly, it also offers a lot of other stats that can prove very valuable.

On September 16, 2014 the PR Toolbar or “PageRank Status” toolbar has been renamed to the Open SEO Stats toolbar. Below is a screenshot of Facebook’s statistics to see just how much this tool has to offer. For most of these stats, if you’re unsure what they mean or want more info you can simply click the label and be taken directly to that site. As the new name would suggest, all of this info is “open” (ie freely available to the public) so you could find each of them yourself, they’ve just done a great job of putting all of this information in one easy-to-navigation location.

There is far too much information here to cover each of them individually and most information is quite self-explanatory. What you’re really looking at is a number of different ways to quantify the strength of a website including social following, WOT (trust) rating, sitemap and robots status etc.

page-rank screenshot

While the actual PR score is quite irrelevant it is definitely worth installing this tool and at least taking a quick look at your site, you may just find that you’re missing something important!

IE 10 doesn’t support toolbars but if you’re using Chrome you can install the Open SEO Stats toolbar directly from the Web Store.

The Bottom Line

Basically, if you’re looking for a single metric to give you a rough idea of your backlink profile strength, you’re far better off looking to either Moz, Majestic or Ahrefs for their proprietary scores as they’re still frequently updated.

If you want to see more detail about a website including other interesting stats like social following and page speed then Google’s Open SEO Stats tool bar is a fantastic way to see all that data in one place.

Chris Sears

About Chris Sears

Chris Sears is a passionate web marketing specialist who has helped many businesses grow from Search Engine Optimisation and Adwords Management throughout Australia.

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