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New PageRank Update! But is PageRank Even Important?

In case you missed the news a few days ago, Google has now updated the toolbar PageRank for the first time since February.  This has put a skip in the step of many webmasters that were delighted to see their PageRank go up, and perhaps saddened others that saw the green bar go down.

What's interesting about this update, is that Matt Cutts less than 2 months ago at PubCon (that I attended), mentioned in his key note address that he would be very surprised if PageRank was updated by the end of this year.  Well, it has indeed been updated…but does it really matter anyway?

Many people have reported on the recent Google PageRank update, and have shared their thoughts and reactions.  Here's just a couple of articles highlighting the PageRank update:

You can also read on a number of forums, about webmasters sharing the news of either an increase or decrease on their websites.  People feel like its an early Christmas present!

What is PageRank?

First, we need to clarify what PageRank really is, and then we can determine if its worth worrying about or not.

I actually wrote a piece on the importance of PageRank (or lack thereof) at the end of a recent post here.  I highly recommend that you read that post to get a handle on what PageRank is all about, why its value has been decreased, and what really is important for ranking in Google.

In the beginning of Google (1996), PageRank was the backbone.  However, Google has now introduced hundreds (thousands?) of other ranking factors to its algorithm.  So, while its fun to see your PR go up, its impact on how your site actually ranks in Google is significantly less than it used to be.

I quoted from a few SEO “gurus” in a previous post about PageRank. I'll re-quote them here:

Neil Patel of QuickSprout.com said (and this quote is from 2011, so its even less important now):

So while it’s true that PageRank played a huge role in Google’s ranking algorithm in the past, its role today clearly isn’t as important in terms of rankings, due in large part to the fact that plenty of other ranking factors have been introduced since the launch of PageRank. As more ranking factors are introduced, their relative weight must get smaller, as each represents a smaller percentage of a site’s total score.

Neal goes on to explain in that post that working on increasing his PageRank did not result in better rankings in Google.

Aaron Wall of SEObook.com said:

Yes, PageRank is important to driving indexing, but for rankings it is nowhere near as important as it once was in terms of delivering top rankings….

So, Aaron says PageRank still determines how quickly a site will get crawled and indexed, but not very important as a ranking factor.

But when determining which site ranks better than the next, link diversity is typically far more important than raw PageRank.

On CopyBlogger.com (from Feb. 2013):

The problem with PageRank was that you could game it.

Real Life Examples of PageRank

If PageRank was the most important factor for actually ranking a website, then when we looked at the top 10 results in Google for just about any search query, we'd see them ordered with highest PageRank first, then down to lowest PageRank.

But the reality is that we almost never see that in real life.  Here's just 2 quick examples to drive the point home.

First, lets look at the keyword, “Best Survival Knife” (sound familiar?):

pagerankexample1

If PageRank were the most important ranking factor in Google, we would see a PR 6 page ranking below a PR 0 page.  As you can see in the above screenshot from Long Tail Platinum, the order of these top 10 results would be significantly different.

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Here's another quick example.  Let's look at the keyword, “Best Safety Razor” from Perrin's Niche Site Project.

example2

In this screenshot from Long Tail Platinum (my keyword research tool), you can again see that the order of sites would be significantly different if PageRank was the only factor that made sites rank.  In this example, the highest PR does happen to be #1, but that's about as far as it goes.

Now of course, that doesn't stop me from checking my own PageRank.  It was interesting to see that my site: BestSurvivalKnifeGuide.com now has a PR of 3 (zero previously).  But does having a PR of 3 suddenly shoot my site back up to page 1?  No, of course not.

You can see a full link analysis and what I think I need to do to overcome the Penguin 2.1 penalty caused by negative SEO for my niche site.

Even Toolbar PageRank is Not Accurate

Finally, I will just say that Google is updating their internal PageRank of sites constantly.  So, each day, sites may be going up or down in PageRank, but we don't see that.  We are only allowed to see what Google pushes out to the Pagerank toolbar every so often.

So, even though you see a PR increase or decrease, that is likely very old data anyway…so may not be as relevant as hoped for.

All in all, PageRank is fun to watch…I get it!  But at the end of the day, its not the biggest determining factor for how a site ranks in Google; and therefore, is something that you should only give very minor consideration (if any) when building your business.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the whole PageRank topic.  Did you notice anything exiting, odd, or noteworthy with the latest Google PageRank update?  If so, please let us know in the comment below.  I look forward to the discussion!


Search Engine Optimization

By Spencer Haws
December 10, 2013 | 67 Comments

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David Michael

Still zero. (okayface)

lol

IMPromoCoder

PR from 1 to 0.
Rankings from 6-9 to 2-5.
And I’m okay with that!

Spencer Haws

For sure!

Nick LeRoy

Does it matter? Yes/No. If your looking to sell links it sure does. It’s amazing how many people are still fixated on the green pixels.

From a rankings / earnings stand point? No way. PR is outdated and would only be relevant if it were a constantly updated metric. I can show you plenty of PR0’s that outrank and make more money then say a PR4.

Spencer Haws

Good point Nick.

the rookie

I completely disagree with Nick, of course it matters. High page rank doesn’t mean you will rank for a keyword its two separate items.

It does mean that if your site is up against another of the same type then most likely the higher pagerank site will win. (the pagerank on the bar is not necessarily your true current pagerank except on the day its updated)

Just like page authority matters etc.

It totally matters. There is no doubt that it does. Whether the page rank you actually see really matters that is debatable but at least its a good reference..

Fred Owusu

Well said Nick… Could not agree more. I don’t even bother looking at the PR metrics when looking for niche sites to out rank.

Lisa Irby

Well said, Spencer. I have been over the PR hype since 2005. lol Traffic and conversions matter the most.

Reggie

Yeah, I agree with Nick on this one. PageRank is a relevant metric for Google internally, but not for SEOs. It is my understanding the PR is still being used at Google, but it hardly pushes updates to the public. That’s why we can get more accurate domain and page metrics from other tools such as MOZ, Ahrefs, Majestic, and so on.

John Gibb

Thanks for the update spencer. Was going to write an article on this, but think I will just point my followers here! 🙂

Do you still have an affiliate program going for your keyword tool? I am currently using keyword canine, but looking for a tool that will do faster search and cover the competition data across multiple sets of keywords faster.

If I like your tool, will promote it long term for you.

Thanks for all you do here, such an awesome blog and a big inspiration to many!

Tung Tran

It’s in Clickbank but Spencer needs to approve your application first http://www.longtailpro.com/become-an-affiliate-of-long-tail-pro/

Matt

Thanks for the news Spencer. I also want to thank you in general for inspiring me with niche sites. I begun following you a few months ago and knew nothing about niche sites. Today I’m shocked to see my niche site is up to 4 figures a month and earned over $1500 in the first week in December! I know it’s a holiday buying boost but still.

Thanks again for proving that even noobs like me can make it work!

Kancur

Wow Matt, that’s a whole lot of success!!

Spencer Haws

That’s great Matt…congrats!

Tung Tran

Honestly, I don’t care much about this update. PR is too outdated.

And I don’t know why my CloudLiving blog is still PR 0, and some of my niche sites which were recently built are all PR 3 🙁 even though the links to my blog are of higher quality.

John Gibb

We should focus more on our profits, not Google PR. It’s 2013 now, not 2005. The game has completely changed. I rank for terms with 27k search volume a month (highly competitive, and use 0 PR links).

Even links that are not even indexed in G help you rank. The key is to just test yourself and take nothing as the gospel truth until you find out your own way.

alain

Great post Spencer, again.

I do agree with pretty much everything in it, however I admit and it’s probably psychology-based that I still look at the right PR column on LTP when I try to see if I can rank for a keyword.

I still do, although I’ve known for quite a while I should just ignore it, there are tons of other metrics more important. Strange, right?

Anyway, after a 1 year of hard work and building of around 10 authority sites (but I’ve been for 5 years in ecommerce + SEO before), my conclusions are very simple:

– Build a site that looks good, with good, interesting, in-depth content/articles.
– 2nd, update it every week.
Rinse and repeat.

I’ve been able to rank in the first page of almost all my sites withtout a single backlink. The search volume is btw 4000 and 15 000 a month.

It’s just about content and posting regularly.

That’s what I found, nothing extraordinary but it worked for me.

Spencer Haws

That’s great! I’d love to hear more about your success. Feel free to contact me on using my contact page and perhaps I can share your success story on the blog (we can discuss via email).

John Gibb

I think if you start a blog, post to it ten times a day, plus comment on other blogs in your niche (daily), you can’t not make a success of that blog. I will be doing this in 2014 for my health affiliate marketing blog. I pretty much guarantee I will attract a huge amount of daily newsletter subscribers by doing so. Keep it simple I say…

I mean, things don’t have to be complicated at all for niche site building. We could literally just put traffic down to new blog posts and new comments, and it still works just as well as ever.

The other way (for direct money sites), is to go down the tiered link building route, and throw in some high PR themed links from a PBN.

Darnell Jackson

Good point Spencer,

I caint help but think that pagerank is somehow involved with the way Google’s adsense ads are priced.

In other words the same ad will obviously cost more per click on a more popular site. I think this is sorted by PR along with other factors.

Lindsay Collins @ NicheGrind.com

Page Rank does not affect your rankings AT ALL. The PR of the sites you get your backlinks from does, however. Unless you are planning on using your own site for links for another site you own, then your sites PR really doesn’t matter.

Lindsay Collins @ NicheGrind.com

So, just to make it clear for people using Long Tail Pro. Pretend the PR is not even there. It should not have any weight in your decision at all when analysing your competition to find out if it’s likely to rank.

Steve

Thanks for the update Spencer.

I think people should just stop looking at page rank and use the Moz DA and PA instead, it seems to be doing a much better job to me.

That said, expired domains with PR, people will go after, leaving the high DA domains for me hahaha

Jeff

PR obviously has some value in the ranking of sites, but difficult to determine……..

Greg Nunan

Certainly felt like Christmas had come early. PR doesn’t matter to rankings but like Nick pointed out above, a surprising number of SEO agencies still use it to determine the value of guest posts and text links. I’m sure everyone that has been building PBNs since Feb had a fun few minutes checking how PR NA PBN sites have jumped. Know I did, regardless of how pointless it is in reality!

In checking my sites, I noticed one PBN site had been de-indexed so it was a timely reminder to keep track of the index status of sites.

the rookie

Its hard for me to believe everyones comments here. Claiming it doesn’t matter etc. Yet domain authority or page authority does. There is not that much difference between the two. Sure they are parallel to each other but page rank is still important.

Sure the number you “see” as pagerank isn’t that important because its rarely updated but the actual page rank is. Just because a high page rank site doesn’t rank for a certain keyword doesn’t make page rank worthless. Really people here think that it doesn’t matter, that seems insane to me.

In that case domain authority and page authority is just as worthless. Sites with high page authority from moz etc aren’t going to rank high either if you search for an irrelevant keyword. If spencers blog was about shoes and had a pagerank of 6 or page authority of 60 etc. If he did a post on epson printers it wouldn’t rank either. Thats ridiculous.

Sorry, Im ususally not this annoyed but for some reason I felt inclined to troll.

Nicks comment ” I can show you plenty of PR0′s that outrank and make more money then say a PR4.” is completely irrelevant because it isn’t blog specific or niche specific. and most importantly post specific. Sure I can also show you tons of low domain authority sites that have higher rankings and make more money that higher domain authority sites
but what does that prove. Absolutely nothing.

Sure its slow to update, but a high pr site still has value. Sure the reading you get on your toolbar might not be right but if you do have a high pr site your site has definite value.

Spencer Haws

Good to see the passion! As mentioned in my post, Goolge DOES still use PR to rank sites, but its a much smaller factor. So, I’m not saying there is no importance, just very little.

Also, PageAuthority/Domain Authority is actually quite different than PageRank; because PageAuthority includes an entire host of factors including social metrics and much more. PageAuthority is a much more robust number of the actual authority of a page.

Marc

Of course PageRank matters. Do you think Google is calculating and updating PageRank for the fun of it?

The key is understanding HOW it matters. I think what we’ve ascertained clearly is that it’s not a direct correlation to ranking. So a PR0 could outrank a PR4 for certain keywords.

But saying PR is worthless, dead or it does not matter is a little short sighted.

Spencer Haws

Thanks for the thoughts! And again, I never said it was dead or worthless…I just said it matters very little, as there are much more important rankings factors.

John Gibb

I agree with Spencer based here based on my own results… PR is old news. PageAuthority/Domain Authority is where it’s at now.

If your making a killing and you care about PR, keep doing what you do. If you are not, stop living in the past and do what works today! 🙂

I stopped caring about PR long ago. When I had my first 109 affiliate sales in one single day, I sure as hell was not focusing on the PR of my sites 😀 Amusing how much time people waste on these sorts of things….

Priyank

Hey Spencer,

Thanks for this nice post.

I don’t give a damn about PR anymore but still I would like to know how Rankhero sites have performed through this PR update. Have no-PR domains there are part of Rankhero got any PR?

Want to know this because I want to know power of deleted domains. There are lot of speculations that deleted domains looses the link juice after deletion.

Hope you can help us understand this.

Thanks.

Spencer Haws

I just went and quickly checked a few of the sites in RankHero, so didn’t look at them all. But yes, they have PR.

Jean-Luc

I think that PR is a good metrics to see if a website was penalized somehow or not. If you buy for example old domains, and want to see if they are still useful to build links, it’s good to see if they still have a PR after PR update.
What do you think Spencer?

John Gibb

Jean, just type the expired or old domain in to Google directly… If it’s not showing up at the top in the index – I would not buy it personally.

Just because a site shows as ) PR on a toolbar or whatever, certainly does not mean it is penalized.

Spencer Haws

No, that’s not a good indicator of a penalty. Many sites with a penalty and spammy links have PR.

Leo @Newbiesup

Obviously PR still matters though not that important as old days.
So people are still looking for higher PR websites (especially press releases) for their link building.

Personally one of my blogs drops from 2 to 1 and hope it will recover soon

Salman

PR means nothing to me … these days ! I would rather be happy if my pages rank within the top 3 positions in the SERP’s

John Gibb

Well said Salman, completely agree. It’s all about ROI (Return on investment) in this business.

Bas

From 0 to 2, not a change in rankings.
Don’t really care, I only think it’s easier to get more money for a higher PR domain than one with PR 0.

Phuong Le

Today, the pagerank include many factor, not only the numbers of incoming link like previous stage.

Sachin

Yes PR still important. (It will not help you to rank higher but will be worth to get a link from high PR site)

Spencer, I have observing a strange thing when I goes to buy EXPIRED DOMAINs. Previously expired domain used to be retain their PR for long time but now they are showing N/A mark on almost all domains that I have tried to analyse and most of them was PR 2 & PR 1 domains (as per the tools that I use to buy them e.g. Moonsy) with good amount of backlinks as per moz but Google does not shows any backlinks when searched with ‘link:domainname.com’ query.

I highly suspicious that in next few weeks Google gonna roll out a new update which will be specifically targeted to the HIGH PR BLOG networks.

Matt Cutt already confirmed that they are taken down ‘Anglo Rank’ which was a high PR blog network and was built professionally without having any footprints.

Are any one agree with me????

Mark N.

“Spencer, I have observing a strange thing when I goes to buy EXPIRED DOMAINs. Previously expired domain used to be retain their PR for long time but now they are showing N/A mark on almost all domains that I have tried to analyse and most of them was PR 2 & PR 1 domains (as per the tools that I use to buy them e.g. Moonsy) with good amount of backlinks as per moz but Google does not shows any backlinks when searched with ‘link:domainname.com’ query.”

I am noticing the exact same thing.

Spencer Haws

As far as retaining PR, its hard to gauge what’s going on. Since Google didn’t update PR for 10 months, its logical to assume that all expired domains purchased over the past 10 months wouldn’t have PR when you bought them (this happens alot). Now that it was updated, many of the expired domains are likely to have PR. However, every situation is different.

Spencer Haws

No I don’t agree with you. if you search, “link:domainname.com” in Google, that’s a TERRIBLE way to find links…google doesn’t show very many links for any site. Try NichePursuits.com, which has several thousand links…that query only shows 8. This is not accurate. Webmaster Tools is much more accurate.

Bryce Haga

Nice topic you brought here.

Does PR matter?

Note: SEO perspective

The best way to describe is to look at the SERPS and see what’s happening.

SEO is easy to understand but some IM overcomplicate it.

The other way you can draw conclusions is by testing because I do not believe in SEO theory.

Last month, I ranked for a 44K search with 10 links from PR0 blogs with great backlinks profiles, low DA and PA. Conclusion PR did not matter at.

Before you reach any conclusion, run your experiment and see what works.

Cheers

Bryce

Spencer Haws

Thanks for sharing Bryce!

sar

So if PR is not important for ranking what are you saying about high pr networks like rank hero or Sape?

Lindsay Collins @ Niche Grind

PR of your site is not important for ranking your site, but getting links from high PR sites is important. So what I mean is take Rank Hero for example…

The PR of one of their blogs whether it’s 1 or 5 doesn’t change how that blog ranks. But a PR5 site IS more powerful than a PR1 site. So if we want to get a link from one of their sites, we REALLY want the PR5 because it passes more link juice to our site.

sar

Hi, Thanks for the commet !
And I really like your blog to.

Question – What about anchor text? I’m going to buy a 40 links HIGH PR package and I was thinking what anchor text should I use .. ?

Spencer Haws

Vary anchor text as much as possible. Don’t use exact match anchor text more than once or twice. Use URL or site name and generic terms.

Spencer Haws

Again, its PageAuthority (a Moz.com metric) that matters, not PageRank. This is what is used for Rank Hero sites.

Spencer Haws

Rank Hero is not based on PR. Its based on high PageAuthority/DomainAuthority…metrics that do matter. Sape is not a good network because it is based on PR 🙂

MMD

I think the only people who still put stock in Pagerank are advertisers. Ever since all my niche sites increased in value, I’ve received nothing but spam guest post and CPA offers.

Rina

Of the google pagerank update, my blog does not get PR and fixed N / A but to position my blog in google search engine had been increased. I also agree and sure, if pagerank not important in Google result page

Glenys @ Website Tips 4U

It’s true that we have been conditioned over time to look at the PR of a site. It’s a hard habit to break. That little green bar can act like some kind of award, particularly when it grows.

But, the bottom line is traffic. I would much rather work at growing my traffic stats than chasing improved PR. There are so many components included in the ranking algorithm these days that it would create a distorted view if we were to just look at one. Spencer’s videos that look at analyzing the top 10 competition reinforce this.

I definitely agree with Alain about the importance of posting content on a regular basis.

alain

Thanks Glenys.
@ Spencer. Thanks, would love to share but all my websites are in French, would be a bit hard for your audience. However I’m happy to share here what I’ve found works for me, although I understand this may not apply for everyone, depending on the niche, competition etc..

But again, it’s so simple that it doesn’t even require an entire post as far as I’m concerned.

I just imagine what I would do if I were in google’s shoes and had to rank billions of websites.

– I usually start creating about 20 to 40 pages around the subject. These are pages that will be static. They’re the first thing a visitor can see on the website. These are on the top menu. I try to cover each and every aspect of the subject and I use the excellent Long Tail Pro to understand what people are looking for. I sometimes create pages where I answer people’s problems. Topical ex: my electric shaver’s not working, how-to’s (change the blade)… I go on forums, read the answer and I make a dedicated page to answer typical problems.. I mean I really try to go in depth. This takes me about 8 to 10 full days.

– After a week or so when this is done, I start creating new posts, … can be news, reviews, etc. They don’t have to be long. I don’t buy the “create at least 300 words” articles to rank… I mean, it doesn’t make sense to me. There are some subjects that simply don’t deserve that much content and google knows it, it can be a new product, new design release where 5 or 6 lines will be enough. What matters I think is freshness, google sees that you’re dedicated to what you’re doing and the more you update the more they’ll like you.

To me, adding content, valuable content, very regularly, including pictures, videos, etc, is key, I disregard the length of the article (except for static articles). Some of you will disagree maybe but to me it’s best to add a small post, a paragraph, changing a few images every 3 days than a large post every 3 weeks (unless maybe the post is making news / has amazing content that drives lots of audience).

I know a guy who’s had that one website in real estate. When you look at the website you just cannot believe that google is ranking it in the first page (5th position) and yet on a quite competitive keyword (18000). This guys still uses a very old cms and has to change all the coding by himself … and he knows, like me, very very little… what happens is that this guy has all the time in the world, he’s retired so almost everyday he’s “playing” with his website, adding a picture here and there, changing a sentence.. changing the menu layout.. I mean very little things.. but almost every day of the year. It’s like a hobby, he doesn’t need that website to make a living.

He’s adding maybe one new page of average/good content every 3 or 6 month or so.. he’s had the same content for 2 years almost.. he’s just adding bits here and there, new sentences, paragraphs, images, videos.. and of course no backlinking, he would not know where to start. However probably a few websites link back to him but it’s definitely not much.
So what’s left? Why is this guy ranking?
– Site age? 2 to 3 years.. ok, average
– Backlinking? None.. although yes a few sites link back but I’d say less than 10.
– Great content? Very average, not in-depth, that’s for sure. No page has more than 500 words
– Regular posting/changing existing content, adding pics? All the time.

I’m not saying I’m right here, I just look at the facts and what seems to work.
I’d love to have your comments in this regards
Cheers

Spencer Haws

Thanks for sharing Alain!

Kancur

Guys what do you think about this link? I was able to get a link from a page. Domain is very high authority .edu web. But the link is on subdomain and not homepage:

sub.domain.edu/xxxxxx/thispagecontainslink.htm

It’s a page of professor on that university, but he retired. His page is not linked from the subdomain and domain probably not too.

So is domain authority somewhat important in this case? will it pass any juice?

In general, does a link on a page that is not linked from any internal source (homepage …) but only from external sources, pass any juice of that domain? Thanks

Spencer Haws

Well, you can check the PageAuthority of that specific page on OpenSiteExplorer.org, and that will give you an idea of how powerful that page is.

Kancur

Thanks Spencer, well, domain authority 84, but
page authority 1, what a pity.. 🙂

Byong

I have a bunch of PR3, PR4s that went down to PR0-PR1, but they still work great.

Nothing has changed in terms of backlink power.

Garrick

Experts say relevancy is the new PR 🙂

Spencer Haws

For sure, I think that’s important as well.

Garrick

Contextual links from highly relevant sites with trust and authority from google would be the holy grail…

PR is just one of 200 ranking factors according to this article from entrepreneur.com

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226884

Aaron

Well if you are going to sell text links or content links, TBPR still plays a important factor in your link sales. Higher PR means more $. Sometimes people got too caught up in PR. DA & PA is the real deal these days. IF i were analyzing an expired domain, ranking factor from high to low is , RDMT, DA, PA, LRDs and TBPR being the least important.

Dean

Hi Spencer,

great website, one of few discovered lately. looking forward to learn from you. i started with some niche websites and resign from job in 2011. its awesome. gone around the world for a year. lived in a few cities i always wanted to experience, like barcelona. now looking forward to tune it up by employing people to work for me. still i consider myself a noob.

re PR – i don’t give it much importance. same, i had website withot PR making $1,000 a day. and again, have PR4 website not making almost any money.

question – this my private blog is PR4, like 100 uniques a day, eco-friendly life is topic, personal passion 🙂 i love website and write from 2007. do you think i should use link fro this website to link to some my money site or that will ruin me? personally i love this website so don’t want to jeopardize it…

Spencer Haws

If the links are not relevant, then don’t do it. But if the links are relevant and make sense, then go for it.

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