Earlier this week Google removed PageRank from its Webmaster Tools. That’s the 0 to 10 scale you can also see in your Google Toolbar that reflects a page’s “link popularity,” or authority–an indicator Google believes is overvalued by practitioners of optimization.
This turn of events has caused a mighty stir in the SEO community and PageRank has received quite a bashing through it all. “Who needs it?” “Only losers rely on it.” “PageRank is for grandmas.” And, all the while folks continue to admit that PageRank is a critical measure in optimization just the same.
There’s no denying that PageRank is one of the quintessential book covers by which everyone judges a site. It’s not likely to disappear from the collective conscious any time soon. Why?
Whether we call it a critical line in every rank report or reduce it to a kindergarten toy, the PageRank stat is the quickest path of insight into the way Google tries to reflect the real world around us. It attempts to provide an algorithmic representation of how much we can trust the content we encounter on a given web page. It’s the Google algorithm’s goal to be a searcher’s valued guide to the online world. If Google thinks you’re the bees knees, them maybe I’m safe to think so too. The entire concept of Google’s search engine is to play this real life concierge. It has been a key component to the engine’s success in becoming the dominant engine of choice.
So, Google can say what they will, and call it PageRank today or something else tomorrow, the concept of ranking pages based on contextual trust and authority will never lose its resonance with the end user, be they regular searchers or SEO gurus. We like it because the concept fits our “real world” view and helps us make sense of what we find online. That successful merging of the online and real world demonstrates how important it is for businesses to succeed in communicating their own physical reputations into an accurate web presence. When the two are in sync, they begin to serve each other and benefit any marketing objective.