Is Google Pagerank dead?
Now that the dust has settled on the debate, the concensus appears to be that dead or alive it doesn’t make a lot of difference and as a metric didn’t provide the average site owner a great deal of relevant information as to the performance of their site.
It certainly would be nice to see a big solid green block in the Google Toolbar, indicating a high pagerank (PR), but what does it actually mean. Unfortunately, Google, as it does with almost all its search algoriths, doesn’t make it explicit, leaving it up to the imagination.
If you look at the correlation between Google PR and Alexa Rank (AR) there is a close relationship. Almost all high PR sites have a low Alexa Rank (indicating high visitor traffic).
High Google PR and low Alexa rank correlate
Take as examples, ebay.co.uk, PR 7, AR 104; amazon.co.uk, PR 8, AR 197; wikipedia.org, PR 9, AR 6, and the relationship is clear.
Google Toolbar says that “Pagerank is Google’s view of the importance of this page” with the belief that a site’s PR can be enhanced if other sites, preferably with higher rank, link to it as acknowledgement of its relative importance.
An industry was spawned, now largely discredited, buying and selling links to specifically boost PR. At one time it was a numbers game and the more links the better but now less can and is more. It boils down to relevancy and quality, of the linking site, location of link and the link text, all of which contribute.
It is still true that having good quality and relevant links to your site will contribute towards PR, and there is no reason not to work towards that goal, but very few of us will be able to achieve a PR at the higher end, as in the examples above.
Is it really importance or simply popularity?
It could be that PR is partly a measure of importance and popularity and although not synonymous is indicative in relative terms and a site with no PR would be a worrying statistic as it could well indicate a site receiving no traffic at all.
Concentrating solely on the attempt to raise PR is counter-productive, and as the Google representative indicated, there are many more metrics to take note of that provide relevant and actionable data to help improve the effectiveness of your web site.
Real world example
As an example, from closer to home, a customer I have known for a good many years, and work with on his search engine marketing has a PR of only 3.
However, one of his ecommerce sites, has at the last count, 522 top ten (first page of Google) search results spread over 14 different product groups. Of these 26% (138) consistently achieve a no 1 spot.
With about 81% of his monthly visitors arriving from one of the search engines the objective is to ensure they find what they searched for and it is as easy as possible for them to buy it!
A number of years ago, he used to occasionaly comment on the PR of the site, and it did hit 5 for a short period, but I can’t remember now when it was he last mentioned it!
PR can help drive traffic to a site but rather than focus on simply more traffic, it has been shown, that it is easier, more effective and about 7 times less costly, to convert more existing visitors into paying customers!