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PageRank Is Dead, Long Live PageRank!

If you’re a regular Internet user, you might not even know what PageRank is – or even that it exists. Of course, if you’re an SEO professional, chances are you do know that Google uses the number of links leading back to any given page in order to calculate that page’s rank. That’s what PageRank is all about. It matters because it tells the search engine how important and trustworthy the content of a page is, in a nutshell. This ranking system has been the core of Google’s philosophy ever since the beginning and is the main ranking system for web pages used by the search engine on a daily basis. Now, while PageRank certainly is important, it looks like Google has recently decided to completely eliminate it from the average user’s Internet experience. Let us take a look at some developments of the PageRank concept that have taken place of late.

No more PageRank in the Google Toolbar

The easiest way for an Internet user to find out what the PageRank of a webpage is is to check this index with the aid of the Google Toolbar. Earlier in 2013, official statements from Google said the PageRank index would always be available via the toolbar, yet it seems their actions point to the opposite direction. PageRank was never even available in the Google Toolbar for the Chrome browser, nor were there any add-ons developed in order to supplant this lack. The Firefox version of that same toolbar stopped displaying PageRank over two years ago, in June 2011. These days, Internet Explorer alone allows the user to find out the PageRank of a website, but the data is not exactly up-to-date anymore. The last update took place well over six months ago; when asked about the date of the next update, Google officials chose to make no comment. In short, it seems like the search engine giant is not interested in allowing non-SEO Internet users to learn the PageRank of a website.

Does PageRank matter for anyone except SEOs?

In the wake of Google’s lack of commentary regarding an update to its PageRank database, some SEO website readers stated that PageRank is only relevant for SEOs after all. Yet a statement made by Matt Cutts some time ago contradicts them. According to Google’s own head of spam, there are probably a lot more regular users who opt into seeing the PageRank in the toolbar. And, of course, it goes without saying that the ranking of any given page factors into what results searchers receive in their SERPs. What’s more, the Google Directory, which lists manually reviewed websites (as selected by Open Directory Project editors) ranks those pages by PR (PageRank). Unfortunately, however, the Google Directory is one of those Google products that not many people know about. It was launched way back in 2000, but in 2004 got demoted to the ‘More Google Products’ page.

Does PageRank still matter for SEOs?

New trends in search engine optimization have moved the focus of the conversation away from matters strictly related to PageRank. In a certain sense, this is probably for the better, since the initial fixation on PR determined the emergence of numerous black hat SEO strategies, such as link schemes. Nowadays, though, PR alone is not enough to rank well in the SERPs. Today’s search engine algorithm looks at more than just the PR of a page linking back to yours. It also takes context into consideration and is thus able to generate far more relevant results for complex queries. Yes, PR still matters in SEO, in the sense that you still want authoritative websites to link back to you. But the fact that it is slowly losing grounds in terms of importance is by no means the end of the (SEO) world.

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