Google’s update to Page Rank came as a surprise to almost everyone in the SEO industry, not least because Mr Matt Cutts, head of Google Webspam had implied no such update would occur in 2013.
To give you the background, Google has generally updated the once much heralded Page Rank every three months or so approximately. However, in recent times no update has occurred – in fact, until the latest update many industry big wigs claimed Page Rank updates to be publically dead. When Cutts went as far as tweeting ‘I would be surprised if it happened’, when asked if there would be an update before 2014, the burial had almost begun. That Tweet was October the7th; the latest update was December 6th.
PageRank is Dead
When we say ‘publically dead’ we do so as many hazarded a guess that Google was still using the metric itself and updating internally.
Of course, it’s easy to understand why Google is moving away from PageRank – foremost it can be quite easily fooled. Improving PageRank can be achieved through grey and even black hat tactics. Once upon a time it was probably Google’s most major ranking factor and one of the major elements in a site’s ranking. Nowadays, it’s just one of many; hundreds even that impact on a site and help it rank well.
However, the reason it’s still an often cited factor is that it’s easy to understand – three is better than two, eight is better than four etc. It’s easy to grasp in a world of more technical terms and easy to explain to clients as one thing or another.
Google’s intermittent updates seem to be somewhat successful, in that they remove SEOs and webmaster’s obsession with the metric and orientate it towards other factors that are equally or more important.
Google’s gotten a lot more advanced in the last couple of years. The Penguin spam fighting updates and the arrival of Hummingbird and semantic search, as well as Schema change things. Sites with a higher Page Rank don’t necessarily rise above lower Page Rank sites any more – it’s a very different world nowadays.
In fact, Page Rank has even been dropped as a factor in a number of browsers in recent times. For example Internet Explorer doesn’t show it any longer.
Of course, there are other alternatives to Page Rank. Sites such as Moz.com have their Domain Authority and MozTrust metrics, while MajesticSEO has its Trust and Citation ranks. These are just a few of the different tools showing algorithmic evaluations of a site’s proficiency and they cover a whole range of different strengths and weaknesses. However, we must remember that each metric is only accounting for a specific aspect and that it’s better to use a number together. Often this leads to the evaluation being worth more than the sum of a number of tools’ parts.
There’s more to how well your site does than metrics and numbers in a tool bar too. Matt Cutts has hinted at this during the year and we could certainly expect other aspects being taken into account, especially in the area of mobile SEO and mobile SERPs.
Other Important Factors
It would not be surprising in the slightest to see ranking changes in mobile search based on factors such as whether a site was a responsive or mobile site, page load times and other technical factors.
Of course, good on-site architecture that allows for easy bot navigation on site is almost certainly going to be more important with time for all sites. Making human’s navigation of your site easier is very important too.
Other areas of user experience are also important to a site’s success. After all, what’s the point of being high in the SERPs and getting plenty of clicks but having below average conversion rates? High bounce rates and other issues can be seen in your site analytics – so analyse, improve the UX experience and try to lower them.
Another likely ranking factor is useful and high content, especially after the Hummingbird update and expects this trend to continue. Google has always pushed content and quality content and this update deepens that need and makes it an even more central ranking factor.
Social media channels have not yet been taken into account officially by Google; however there have been numerous studies that show definite correlations between social and ranking. We must remember that correlation doesn’t equate to cause, but that said it’s interesting. Of course, social media also shows engagement and the fostering of a community around a website and also that you’re sharing compelling content. It could be likely it’s used as an official ranking factor soon.
These are not even close to the lion’s share of factors that impact on a website, but they are important ones. Secondly, we’ve mentioned them to give you an idea of why PageRank is not that much of an important factor of a site’s success.
Managing and improving the above factors will improve a site and a URLs’ authority no matter what a metric says or how a tool measures it. Page Rank is one of over 200 and growing factors in a site’s ranking equation.
Yes, it’s somewhat important, it’s nice to see it increase and it’s nice to get quality, relevant links from high Page Rank pages. However, it’s by no means the end all of metrics, in fact it isn’t even close.
About the Author: Rick is an SEO and digital media author working in the SEO Industry, writing current, informative articles which attack the pressing matters of today whilst addressing longer established topics.