Speculation is rife in the SEO community that Google is set to abandon PageRank as a visible indication of a website’s relative importance, as updates to the toolbar extension have become increasingly rare and little interest has been shown by the search giant in rectifying this.
With only one PageRank update pushed through in 2013, Matt Cutts all but confirmed the PageRank Indicator’s fate in a recent webmaster video, saying that it will “start to go away a little bit”.
There have been reports that the ‘pipeline’ Google uses to push updates to the toolbar has broken and the engineers over in California can’t be bothered fixing it right now (liar, liar pants on fire!). The real reason behind the lack of updates is more likely due to Google’s desire to devalue the ‘link juice’ commodity they created by publishing PageRank data in the first place.
In the past, a site with high PageRank could command big dollars selling links to other websites, as the ranking benefits that link would pass on were neatly illustrated on a ten point scale. Essentially, the visual representation of PageRank only served to encourage SEOs to focus on ‘gaming’ the algorithm rather than applying their efforts to creating a great user experience and acquiring links naturally.
Nowadays, the combination of a lack of updates and the possibility of manipulating the visible PageRank, via a cheeky redirect, has significantly reduced the value of using it to gauge the potential benefits of a linking partner and as such it has been abandoned by many in the industry.
There are online tools, like Moz’s Open Site Explorer, which is updated regularly and gives a good indication of a site’s popularity, however keep in mind that spammy link building tactics can be used to artificially inflate a site’s domain authority and a link from a dodgy ‘neighbourhood’ can do more harm than good to your site.
“Well… How do I identify valuable linking partners then?” I hear you ask.
To identify valuable, future-proof, linking opportunities, ask yourself these 3 questions;
- Is the website in a relevant vertical to yours?
- Is the site built for humans rather than the Googlebot? (Clean layout, lots of pictures, interaction in the comments sections).
- Is there evidence of social signals? (Facebook likes, Twitter followers etc).
If the answer is yes to all of the above then get your outreach on and pitch your content to the webmaster!