PageRank Update

A PageRank update is an update and adjustment of the Page Rank value of a website. The PageRank algorithm was developed and patented by Google Inc. for the assessment of websites. The PageRank value was initially used to assist users in determining the quality of a website. PageRank was frequently used in search engine optimization, especially in link exchanges, to determine the value of backlinks. Today, PageRank plays a marginal role and is rarely updated.

Update detection and display

The PageRank of a page can be displayed by means of different toolbars in the browser. Usually PR toolbars (e.g. Google toolbar or the SearchStatus Toolbar) are displayed as a bar graph, showing a scale of 0 - 10. The PageRank value does not change frequently, so a PageRank update can be detected by the change in the value of the PageRank on the toolbar. If the PageRank display of tools has changed, it is possible that the update of the value has already occurred a long time before. The Google Webmaster Community has also regularly informed webmasters about possible PageRank updates.

Update intervals

In recent years, different intervals of PageRank updates were observed. Overall it can be assumed that the PageRank got updated and revised every three to four months. Partially reported inconsistencies in different PageRank displays indicate an update. Changes in PageRank of different websites in the United States could also be an indication of a PR update in Europe. By the end of 2014, the updating frequency of the regular PageRank updates were further and further apart.

End of the updates

In a Webmaster Hangout on October 6, 2014 on Google Plus, Google specialist John Mueller officially confirmed that the last PageRank update had taken place in 2013 and that it was likely not going to be updated again.[1].

In the SEO scene it was then actively being discussed whether this was the end of Google PageRank and thus its updates. In the searchengineland blog, Barry Schwartz voiced the speculation, “So now, can we finally say Google Toolbar PageRank is finally dead? I think so.”[2] Barry Schwartz’ statement made it clear that the end of the PageRank update is not the end of the PageRank per se and thus the end of the classification of websites by Google.

As early as 2011, in a MOZ-Whiteboard Friday, Rand Fishkin explained the difference between the public PageRank and an internal PageRank which Google uses for the evaluation of websites. Whereas the public PageRank is now being updated only sporadically according to his statement, the internal PageRank of the company is updated daily.[3]

The reasons for the end of the public PageRank updates can be diverse. Probably Google has found that the original intention of providing ordinary users a tool in assessing the validity of websites has become obsolete. Google receives many billions of user signals on a daily basis. Furthermore, the company would have found that even without a PageRank, users can see if the contents of websites are useful for them or not. Moreover, PageRank was often used only for the evaluation of backlinks for link building. Since Google considers link exchange a spam measure, it can be assumed that the company no longer wanted to support link exchange activities by providing statistical numbers.

Relevance to SEO

A few years ago, PageRank was still one of the most important ranking factors of a webpage. At least ever since the end of the regular PageRank update, this is no longer the case. If you are still looking at PageRank, you should take into account that you will not be able to tell whether or not a website is trustworthy or whether it is well positioned in the search results based on PageRank. Therefore, it is no longer necessary to concentrate solely on the PR value, but rather to pay attention to other ranking factors such as uniqueness of content or loading speed. The publicly accessible PageRank may still provide an indication of the crawl budget.

References

  1. Webmaster Hangout with John Mueller on 10/6/2014 youtube.com Accessed on 08/27/2015
  2. Google Toolbar PageRank finally officially dead searchengineland.com accessed 08/27/2015
  3. What is Googles PageRank good for? Whiteboard Friday moz.com Accessed on 08/27/2015

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