Ah the good old days, when MTV showed actual music videos, Altavista, people wore boot cut jeans and used Google Page Rank.
This week we will have a look back and answer the question; Did PageRank Change The World?
What Is PageRank?
Quite simply, Google PageRank gave every web page you visited a score from 0 to 10. Which seems to be useful you would think?
However, Google last updated PageRank in 2013 and actually stopped supporting it all together in 2016, with Google saying that, “As the Internet and our understanding of the Internet have grown in complexity, the Toolbar PageRank score has become less useful to users as a single isolated metric. Retiring the PageRank display from Toolbar helps avoid confusing users and webmasters about the significance of the metric.”
So, it would seem that much like the winner of X-Factor, it was briefly talked about by everybody and then quietly dropped, definitely not changing the world.
But, let us have a closer look at PageRank. Because it’s actually not that straight forward…
As recently as 2017, one of the senior employees at Google wrote that “DYK that after 18 years we’re still using PageRank (and 100s of other signals) in ranking?”
He went on to explain that the algorithms that Google still use PageRank, but that the bit the general public see, isn’t there anymore.
So, if PageRank was discontinued and not supported, why is it still there and what should SEO do?
You could choose to ignore it of course, but as it is still included in Google’s mysterious algorithm that might not be the wisest of choices.
But, because now you are unable to see how PageRank is measured, there are several things you can do improve PageRank:
How you link the pages together on your website. This is the one link area where it is up to you how these are arranged and managed.
It’s imperative that any content you consider to be vital is close to your websites home page.
The main reason for this is that logically many backlinks will be directed to a homepage. So, for linking purposes, if any of your content, blogs, features are close to the home page then Google will consider it to be more important.
At first, you may think that linking to other websites won’t help your website. But external linking can help improve rankings.
You have to be careful though, too many external links won’t be looked upon favourably. Conversely, if there are no external links then Google won’t entirely approve either.
The main reason for adding an external link is that it is like bringing more people into a discussion, then they bring even more people in and the discussion grows and evolves. So, they are always useful but be sure to not go over the top and throw out dozens of links everywhere.
When you do add external links, be careful to read all of the page you are intending to share, not just the headline or first paragraph.
You always want to make sure that the linked page is relevant and doesn’t turn into an unnecessary advert or product placement halfway down the page.
For example, this moz guide to backlinks is an example of linking to a relevant article on a well-respected website.
Try to link to websites that are free to view if possible, or if you do have to link to a site that is behind a paywall then say so on your page.
If there is a link you have used before or website you have linked to before, make sure you don’t link to a broken link or one that has been error 404’d.
Backlinks are useful, they are like have a friend or colleague vouching that you know what you are talking about.
For SEO purposes it’s a sign that your content is respected and authentic. The more backlinks to a particular web page the more likely Google will rank it higher.
Obviously, it does depend on who is doing the backlinking. If it is from a well-respected website it will have more instant value than from a smaller site.
So, Did PageRank Change The World?
It’s quite possibly overlooked, but PageRank did change SEO in many ways. Just because it’s not updated and the results are not visible anymore, it’s important not to underestimate the effect it had and continues to have.
How PageRank works is still why backlinks and internal links are still considered to be vital is SEO to this day, so any work involving links and linking is by its very nature working to improve PageRank.
In conclusion, we think it is fair to say that PageRank did indeed change the world and much like the winner of X-Factor it is still working hard in the background even if you can’t see them on Glastonbury or The Brit Awards.