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Dear Google: Either Drop PageRank, or Give It More….Granularity

By - September 29, 2008

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I’m a seven, I think. Danny was too, but now, for some reason, he’s a six. Mike’s an eight. Google, natch, is a Ten (one of only two that Amit could find).

PageRank is the unofficial, and official, and semi-official, arbiter of value on the web.

And it’s just deeply broken – not because there isn’t data that informs all of our collective rank. But because we have no idea what that data really is, or how it’s combined to determine value in the Google economy.

So please, Google, either give us more granularity, or just go dark and don’t tell us anything.

Oh, and please, Larry Page, just as a tenth anniversary present, can you pretty please make BackRub for real? I’d really love to have it. So would a lot of others, I suspect.


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16 thoughts on “Dear Google: Either Drop PageRank, or Give It More….Granularity

  1. Hashim Warren says:

    John,
    BackRub’s functionality can be found in Google’s Webmaster Tools. Click on “Pages with external links” and you’ll find a list of all the links around the web that point to your content.

  2. Les says:

    PageRank is not only broken, it is obsolete. It no longer represents any value to a website. It is where you actually appear in the search results that matter. It may PR0 me, but I still get G traffic – that’s all that matters to me and most other website owners.

  3. Ras says:

    John,
    Granularity, transparency, accountability… Nice sentiments in these times.

  4. Kieran Hawe says:

    PageRank should always be taken with a grain of salt – it is, and should be, used as a way for people to gauge the search value of a particular website. 8/10 you are going to dominate search results – 2/10 not so much

  5. Chris Hansen says:

    Yes, what does it really mean? I’m a 4, just up from a 3, but I was a 5 two months ago. Funny thing is, I’ve been so busy starting a new business that my blog languished all during those rating changes. Go figure…

  6. Haiming says:

    Even PR is not quite accurate to judge the reputation of the webpage, it still gives the visitors some clues. As the website owner, we should not pay too much attention about our site PR change.

  7. dave mcclure says:

    if it doesn’t matter, then why is it displayed so prominently in the toolbar?

    come on — by definition: if everyone sees it / thinks about it (& regardless of whether we’re idiots or thoughtful SEO black hats), then OF COURSE it is relevant.

    i agree with john — if it doesn’t matter so much, then KILL IT. (that is, remove it from toolbar).

    if it does matter — ie, Google doesn’t remove it from being prominently displayed in the toolbar — then more explanation / transparency / granularity would be appreciated.

  8. I have to agree. This whole PageRank thing is one big mystery and it seems as long as it remains that way, it shouldn’t have as much weight as it has.

  9. nmw says:

    PageRank is complete nonsense — even if Danny or John each had a PageRank of 10, I would still prefer to have a dentist look after my teeth (and also if he had a PageRank of 0).

    The only people who worry about it is the people who look at it, and that is mostly Google-fans who have voluntarily installed the Google toolbar (spyware) on their PCs.

  10. Emer Lawn says:

    Kieran Hawe’s point that PageRank is to be taken with a grain of salt is well received, but that said…it should only hold small value for those that are not as familiar with the online space.

    Online Marketers have access to so many other tools to determine the value of their website, so if you have the right key performance indicators set up and goals in mind, then PageRank is hardly going to be the way you determine value.

    Thanks John, great point.

  11. Jason Vu says:

    PageRank seems backward recently, another change next month?

  12. AD PR says:

    Because of the intense scrutiny by Webmasters regarding PageRank – it would be tremendously helpful if what is displayed could be more detailed.

    Perhaps even to the point of showing fractions such as: 6.5

    Google really has an obligation to detail what specific factors influence PR.

    Many elements have already been figured out by Webmasters – but not enough info has been shared by Google on exactly WHAT it means and HOW it affect SERPS, as well as what types of backlinks have the most effect.

    Of course, they do not want others to manipulate the info – but something needs to be shared

  13. e book says:

    PageRank is not only broken, it is obsolete. It no longer represents any value to a website. It is where you actually appear in the search results that matter. It may PR0 me, but I still get G traffic – that’s all that matters to me and most other website owners.

  14. Suray says:

    I think I will blog until my PR is dropped!

  15. nmw says:

    Steve Rubel is apparently into mixing it up — he has drunk the Goog Aid and is smoking the Rank Page, too:

    http://www.micropersuasion.com/2008/10/page-rank-is-th.html

  16. Everyone says it doesn’t matter. Matt C said that it’s not uncommon for lower PR sites to outrank higher PR sites. Vanessa Fox writes a long article about why it’s not important. We all know this. Our PR was 6 about a year ago and is now 3, but our traffic is way up. It doesn’t make any sense.

    So why have it on the tool bar? It serves limited marketing insight value and I believe it can be damaging, because some members of joe public regard the little green bar as a proxy for trust and integrity of a site. So if the number’s down, it could harm your conversion and your brand reputation. It should either be a better reflection of reality or be removed in my opinion.