Before you start digging a grave for Google PageRank (which we reported as being on its death bed just two months ago), you should know that Google updated the Toolbar PageRank values about two weeks ago, on the morning of December 6. This was a shocking turn of events not only because many SEOs predicted PageRank’s imminent death, but because even Matt Cuts, Google’s head of web spam, tweeted in October that he “would be surprised” if there was a PageRank update before 2014 (source).
You may be wondering what this means. Has the Google PageRank update made the ranking system more relevant? Why would Google choose to spend time updating a program that’s been slowly fading away? Is it still on its death bed or it has jumped out of said bed and gone for a jog? Let’s find out . . .
Google PageRank Update
Clearly, this is an important update for PageRank. Just when SEOs the world over were predicting PageRank’s death, it undergoes an update. However, this update doesn’t mean that PageRank is back up and running full steam ahead again.
In response to some Twitter queries regarding the reasons behind the Google PageRank update, Matt Cutts tweeted that the “team was fixing a different backend service and did a PR update along the way.” He also said, in response to someone asking if we can expect regular updates to PageRank, that he hesitates “to say ‘I’d be surprised,’” and he followed that with a smiley-face emoticon, no doubt referencing his tweet back in October. After that last miscalculation, he doesn’t want to sound too certain. However, he did say that in general, he “expects PR updates to be less of a priority” (source).
So although this update shows that PageRank isn’t dead, that doesn’t mean that PageRank isn’t a dying metric. Newer metrics like Moz‘s domain authority and page authority and Majestic SEO‘s trust flow and citation flow are probably better options for SEOs seeking a metric. While PageRank may not be as useful as those options, it’s still worth checking out, especially now that it is up-to-date. Many websites have jumped in ranking since the Google PageRank update and that new ranking isn’t worthless.
Plus, it’s important to note that even though Google has been updating PageRank infrequently and doesn’t consider the metric to be a high priority right now, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t still measuring it internally. You never know what’s going on behind the scenes.
So put away the coffin and set aside the gravestone, but don’t give up that cemetery plot just yet. While PageRank isn’t expected to keel over right away, feel free to set it on the back burner when it comes to your site’s SEO. It’s not a completely worthless metric, but others have surpassed it at this point and can be much more beneficial to you. Don’t expect to see many PageRank updates next year and realize that Google considers it to be a very low-priority project.
While the Google PageRank update earlier this month was surprising and shows that PageRank isn’t dead just yet, it’s still a dying metric.