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PageRank is Not Dead… It’s Just Stupid

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 15 years and 325 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

It appears to me some folks in this industry are so emotionally attached to that little green gauge on the Google toolbar, the mere thought of dismissing it as having nothing more than novelty value (which I do) is deemed almost sacrilegious.

Ladies and gentlemen, get a grip on yourselves! Don’t be afraid. Let go of your little, green security blanket. It’ll be all right. Trust me — I’m a search engine marketer.

  • -Mike Grehan
  • PageRank. My guilty pleasure. I know toolbar PR (TBPR) means next to nothing, but I still sneak secret glimpses in it’s direction on many an occasion. I longingly reminisce when I see my PR rise for the days when there were a direct correlation to my rankings. More importantly, I use the the conceptual value of what PR has come to be known as to more effectively explain link popularity to those just starting to wrap their mind around the fact that text links help search rankings. There has been so much hullabaloo over those pretty green pixels in the last few years, that the mere mention of it will definitely get you some quite opinionated answers. I’ve been holding onto mine for a while, and figured it was about time for a little rant.

    Are you guilty too?

    Do you still have the toolbar installed? Do you nod your head when people say it’s dead? Me too sometimes, as I really wish it could be. I’m tired of being duped by a pr5 that is much more beneficial than a pr7 or

  • I look for that much more now though. I check and see that the pr5 has 240 unique domains linking to it that are semantically related to the topic, rather than the pr7 has one run of site link from a site totally non-related. I also check for greybars, no cache, and other things that tell me right away that a site is probably not in good favor with Google. I like something QUICK to glance at. Surfing hundreds of sites a day gets tiresome. I can only imagine what would happen if I stopped to do more in-depth reporting on a lot of them.

    In fact, I know of a certain someone who was cited in the article this is somewhat in response to, who at least five times a day refers to PR (and whom I really enjoy chiding about this). It was in my debates with him that I realized that I wished PR was dead, because it sure is stupid. Explaining that stupidity is partly what Mike was tryin’ to do in this article I think.

    PageRank is NOT dead…It’s Just Stupid.

    Mike, I’m a huge fan…but I like my little litmus test for link pop. If you don’t still use the concept of PR to explain link popularity to others just starting into SEO (or perhaps your lucky enough to NOT have to explain things to new folks), then I’ll let it drop, and help you petition G to remove the lovely little green pixie dust. Again, if I didn’t respect your work so highly, I probably wouldn’t bother ranting here.

    Reasons PR is not dead:

    1. People still use it – it has become a de facto standard
    2. There is nothing better to give a “litmus test” of link popularity
    3. WebRank didn’t work
    4. We want something EASY – I don’t want to run link harvester until I know it’s worth running.
    5. 90% of people will be behind – Except for the 10% of us that read 7,000 blogs per day, most marketing execs and site owners are still going to talk in terms of “my pagerank”.

    So there. It’s not dead. It will take a while to die, and the nail won’t go in the coffin until someone come up with a nice way to show link popularity to those lookin’ for a deal on text link ads instantaneously. PR is STILL the de facto standard, not dead, just terminally ill and incredibly stupid. Anyone seen Dr. Kevorkian lately?

    Yes, the first portion of this is arguementative. I still use PR, as I don’t want to wait for complete backlink analysis on EVERY site that I look at. I want to know RIGHT NOW. Give me that, and I’ll gladly help you KILL TBPR.

    PageRank is Stupid

    Heck, it’s more than stupid, it’s completely and utterly insane that people will still spend thousands of dollars a month on text link that won’t pass any value to search rankings based on the pretty green pixels of an easily manipulated, “for entertainment purposes only” toolbar. Insanity I say! I agree. It’s stupid. Absolutely absurd that people use PR for gauging their text link buys. So what’s better at a glance?

    Yep. TBPR is meaningless…to SEO’s. We all know it doesn’t mean anything, and it’s ridiculous that people base text link buying and selling prices around it. The fact is, it’s one of the best simple metrics we have. I still use it at a glance to find out if a page is potentially banned/ brand new/ old and established etc. I can glean SOME information from glancing at those pretty pixels on 10 different sites. It may not be good, it may not be accurate, but it does give me some information (some disinformation too). Yes, I’ve seen PR3’s with 1000’s of backlinks that I would spend much more on than a PR6 or

  • If you work with agency types and you’ve never used the toolbar to explain link popularity to someone pretty dense then please raise your hand and I’ll probably bet that you only do affiliate work;). I know you have been telling them that because now they all call me and tell me they want to raise their Pagerank;)

    Just to be sure I wasn’t the last man on earth defending the waning virtues of PageRank, I asked link guru Andy Hagans his take on this article, as I had seen him echoing my sentiments on a few occassions. Among other things Andy says…

    Well really I basically agree with what you’re saying. It’s just a basic, simple, ROUGH guage of link pop…. which people obsess WAY too much over… but that doesn’t mean it’s useless, or stupid. Using it as your ONLY metric to evaluate links is stupid. But TBPR itself is still useful, if only to tell you the age of a site (greater or less  than 3 months old), and a very ROUGH indicator of link pop.

    Thus I don’t think it’s dead… but its basic uses have changed, and it is useful to a much more limited degree now as opposed to 2001.

    He continued…

    I DO respect the basic point behind the articles of those who say

    “PageRank is dead” — that is, I respect the point that people should generally obsess less over it, and use more elegant link metrics. But to say it’s “dead” is an oversimplification.

    Very well said I thought.


    Screaming PageRank is dead from the highest rooftops will not solve the delusions of grandeur that PR has created (like I can buy a single PR9 link and rank for “web hosting”). Educating folks on how to evaluate the benefit of text links and how not to get rooked into buying crappy links is what will assist us all. Using the conceptual nature of what PR represents to create better tools would certainly be ideal.

    TBPR has some value, but not in the sense of valuating links. Real PR is basically link pop and will probably be around a long time. Get good links from reputable places, and focus your energy there. In the long term it will pay off if the other criteria are examined a bit more thoroughly.

    Proposed Solutions

    1. Create an alternative to toolbar PR. Somethin’ simple and easy in FF
    2. Use the knowledge OF PageRank by marketing execs and other site owners to explain truly what link popularity is and how to valuate it.

    Other opinions on PR

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    • John Scott

      Best opinion I’ve seen on the PageRank issue in a long time.

    • David Urmann

      You suggest creating a tool bar alternative- how would it be any different than PR? What do you propose as the basis for evaluation? I think pr is a good tool- although it certainly has its limitations- which you point out.Even with a new tool -I bet that people would find a way to manipulate it as well.

    • Bryan Siegel

      The linkharvester link is broken. Just thought that I should share.

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    • Meredith

      Something interesting about PR – you may be familiar with the website. A while back, all bloggers affiliated with them received a hit to their PR. I went from PR6 to PR3 in about a month. Regardless of what you think of PPP as a service, or your opinion of its ethics, the idea that a set of bloggers was systematically smacked down is kind of scary to me. (PPP’s response was to create “RealRank” but I don’t know how it’s calculated.)

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