If you are like most digital marketers, you’ve probably barely paid attention to Google Toolbar PageRank the past two years. Google has been rather open about the fact that they haven’t even updated the metric since December of 2013. It was then that Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller said that it wasn’t likely that an update would ever happen in the future.
But for what may be the last round of publications surrounding the antiquated metric, Google announced this week that Toolbar PageRank would no longer be displayed on any browser, and will instead be internalized.
While some DMs might see this as the absolute death of PageRank scores, that isn’t totally the case. Google will still use PageRank as a factor in determining the health of a website, but this information will be kept as a secret.
Does a hidden PR really matter?
The move itself by Google really shouldn’t matter to anyone in 2016. According to an article by Govind Agarwal of Business2Community, the only change Google has made is moving PageRank information from the public to private. As mentioned, no updates have happened up to this point, so any information webmasters are left with has pretty much been deemed useless.
If this were, say, the pre-2012 era, it would certainly be a different story. When it came to acquiring links, PR was a metric of gospel in determining whether or not it was worth attempting to speak to a webmaster. Unfortunately, the widespread information of PR was responsible for rampant spam injections all over the web.
What should you be paying attention to instead?
If links are what you want, it’s still more than possible to know which sites to go after and which ones to avoid. In the post-PageRank world, mixed with the growing influence of RankBrain (which has been reported multiple times to be the third most influential indicator of search results), the links you go after should coincide with your industry.
This is nothing new, but as I’m scouring reports in either Ahrefs or Positionly, I can’t help but feel bad for some of my industry competitors and where they are getting their links. One of the latest, and quite frankly, greatest examples was a member profile page belonging to a home security dealership on the official website of the Grateful Dead.
In case you’re not sure:
Now many might say that “a link is a link is a link”. There is some credibility to that, but Google has a better understanding that ever of a website’s link profile. It may not matter what the domain authority is on one site or what the Alexa ranking is on another site if your link has no business being there in the first place. Data is important, but when it comes to building your link profile, sometimes it’s simply a matter of instinct.
With the news this week, it’s not very likely that DMs are changing their strategies at all. Most may not even really care that PR data is hidden. If anything, it might just be a insistence from Google to focus your linking and branding efforts elsewhere, and not place your faith in a 0-10 score.