Google officially removed "PageRank (PR)" distribution data from Webmaster Tools in one of 2009 releases. However,
still almost two years later--peope are writing about it and want to know more about, PageRank ("PR") and what it means for their site.
To set the score right, Susan Moskwa, Webmaster Trends Analyst has today made blog post to explain in more detail and give you some relevant, actionable options to fill your time once you stop tracking your PR! Read on:
Why PageRank? In 2008 Udi Manber, VP of engineering at Google, wrote on the Official Google Blog: "The most famous part of our ranking algorithm is PageRank, an algorithm developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who founded Google. PageRank is still in use today, but it is now a part of a much larger system."
"PageRank may have distinguished Google as a search engine when it was founded in 1998; but given the rate of change Manber describes--launching "about 9 [improvements] per week on the average"--we've had a lot of opportunity to augment and refine our ranking systems over the last decade. PageRank is no longer--if it ever was--the be-all and end-all of ranking."
"If you look at Google's Technology Overview, you'll notice that it calls out relevance as one of the top ingredients in our search results. So why hasn't as much ink been spilled over relevance as has been over PageRank? I believe it's because PageRank comes in a number, and relevance doesn't," explains Moskwa.
"Both relevance and PageRank include a lot of complex factors--context, searcher intent, popularity, reliability--but it's easy to graph your PageRank over time and present it to your CEO in five minutes; but just because something is easy to track doesn't mean it accurately represents what's going on on your website," said Moskwa.
She explains, "PageRank is just a stand-in for what we really want: for our websites to make more money, attract more readers, generate more leads, more newsletter sign-ups, etc. On top of these assumptions, remember that we only update the PageRank displayed on the Google Toolbar a few times a year, and we may lower the PageRank displayed for some sites if we believe they're engaging in spammy practices. So the PR you see publicly is different from the number our algorithm actually uses for ranking." Why bother with a number that's at best three steps removed from your actual goal; Finding metrics directly related to your business goals allows you to spend your time furthering those goals.
"Take a look at metrics that correspond directly to meaningful gains for your website or business, rather than just focusing on ranking signals. Also consider metrics that're updated daily or weekly, rather than numbers (like PageRank)."
Here're three suggestions to get you started, all of which you can track using services like Google Analytics or Webmaster Tools:
- Conversion rate, is when a visitor does what you want them to do on your website. A conversion might be completing a purchase, signing up for a mailing list, or downloading a white paper. Your conversion rate is the percentage of visitors to your site who convert (perform a conversion).
- Bounce rate, is the percentage of visits to your site where the visitor bounces. A high bounce rate may indicate that users don't find your site compelling, because they come, take a look, and leave directly.
- Clickthrough rate (CTR): In the context of organic search results, your clickthrough rate is how often people click on your site out of all the times your site gets shown in search results. A low CTR means that, no matter how well your site is ranking, users aren't clicking through to it.
She ends the post with a note, "Some site owners are interested in their site's PR because people won't buy links from their site unless they have a high PageRank. Buying or selling links for the purpose of passing PageRank violates our Webmaster Guidelines and is very likely to have negative consequences for your website."
[Source: Webmaster Central blog]