We now move into our Offsite Search Engine Optimisation section. Offsite factors are those that are on external websites and that help with SEO on your website.
GOOGLE PageRank™ and Toolbar PR
The Google search engine uses "PageRank" (PR) as one of its weighting factors in determining where sites would be placed in the search engine rankings. Pagerank was a key innovation, which helped Google to become the dominant force in Internet search that it is today.
"Page" does not refer to a web "page" but to Larry Page, one of the co-founders of Google. You can view the PageRank of any site by installing the free Google toolbar, which you can download from here, http://toolbar.google.com/.
The Google Toolbar looks something like this …
The green PageRank™ indicator bar in the example above shows a Google PageRank of 5/10. This is for our parent website, Toucher Web Design. Whenever you log on to a site you will see this PageRank indicator change to the PageRank attained by the web page you are currently viewing. Note that the toolbar does not accurately display PR. It is only updated two or three times a year by Google so it can be well out of date at any time.
PageRank as a Quality Measure
PageRank was once the single most important measure of the quality of a website. As of about 2010 its value as a ranking factor was reduced by Google. For a few years it was so important that a whole new industry was formed around "link building" or the process of finding good inbound links for websites. A few good, high PR or authority inbound links could greatly increase your website PR and hence its performance.
Toolbar PR is not nearly as important as it once was as a ranking factor, in fact many people say that it is no longer of any consequence at all. Over the years the link builders learned how game the system to the extent that many search results were being seriously skewed. Google recognised that their reliance on PR as a quality measure was causing this and something had to give. Here is what Google says about it ...
As Larry said long ago, we want to give you back "exactly what you want." When Google was founded, one key innovation was PageRank, a technology that determined the "importance" of a webpage by looking at what other pages link to it, as well as other data. Today we use more than 200 signals, including PageRank, to order websites, and we update these algorithms on a weekly basis.
Value of GOOGLE PageRank
It could be that Google realised that they had helped create the link building explosion by releasing this toolbar PR data in the first place. Links were bought and sold based on their toolbar PR value and high PR links were very valuable. Google is now downplaying the importance of toolbar PR and it may be that this is leading up to them dropping the Toolbar PR feature completely. If the PR is kept secret it could open the door to an increase in its importance as a ranking factor once again.
So in conclusion don't get too obsessed with your PR. There are regular discussions in the SEO community about its relative importance but quite often low PR websites can rank above those with higher PR. This tends to confirm that it is no longer the holy grail of SEO. My opinion is that it is still a minor factor in Google ranking and they actually tell us that they still use it at some level so it is probably worth pursuing without becoming obsessed by it.
Note: Link Popularity and inbound links from other websites are still very important particularly if they contain important keywords for the page they link to as described in the anchor text and internal hyperlinking page.
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