It seems like dismissing Google Toolbar PageRank is the in thing to do.
The impetus for the title of this article was a quote from Barry Schwartz in his article "Obligatory Google PageRank Update Notification":
So after almost 6 months, Google has finally updated the toolbar PageRank values. At least that is what everyone is reporting in the forums. Personally, I did not look
Come on Barry, your readers deserve better, particularly since your post was one of the top ranking result pages for a search on the PageRank shortly after the release.
Im also going to add Ian Lurie to the Too Cool For PageRank group, although he has to be credited as the author of the wittiest tweet about the update. Ian responded to a Website Magazine article on the importance of the update with the following,:
Website Mag: "Most important PageRank update ever?" – since they're all meaningless, sure!
When PageRank Matters
Frankly, I agree that when the metric is six months out of date it is of questionable value.
When PageRank is fresh, as it is now, it can be a valuable tool.
PageRank is an indication from Google about how their algorithm gauges the link popularity of a page, a factor which Im going to guess may account for 21% of the likelihood of a page ranking for a specific term. (Im basing my guesstimate upon results from the SEOmoz 2011 analysis of Search Engine Ranking Factors. SEOmoz projects that links to a page accounts for 21% of search relevance).
While link popularity has declined as a ranking factor, the release by Google of updated Toolbar PageRank remains a noteworthy event.
This PageRank Update's Wacky Numbers
Naysayers have pointed out some of the odd PageRank declines of major sites, including Adobe's and even Google itself.
Among sites that have experienced seemingly inappropriate drops was SEOmoz.org. It went from a PR8 back in January to a PR6 in this release.
When asked, Rand Fishkin, SEOmozs CEO, offered the following hypothesis " it's the best explanation Ive come across:
My personal opinion is that the scale issue is actually to blame for the drop in PR many large websites experienced (including Google + Adobe's almost inexplicable slide from 10 to 9 despite billions of links).
Basically, since PR is on a log scale, and forced into a 0-10 format, the highest page on the web must be a PR10. I suspect something like a Facebook, WordPress, Miibeian.gov.cn (the page all Chinese websites must link to by gov't regulation) or some other is pushing on the top end of the scale and making other sites scale down, even if they're growing links.
This is a key reason to watch other metrics AND if you're going to use PR, to use it only in comparison to other sites/pages. It's unwise to ignore completely, particularly when it's fresh, but we need to understand it in context.
The Case For Dismissing PageRank
In defense of the two people I singled out as too cool for PageRank, it should be pointed out that each has written insightful PageRank critiques.
Ian succinctly stated his case in an e-mail:
My issue with toolbar PageRank (note that this is about TOOLBAR PageRank, not all PageRank) is simple: It's oversimplified and inaccurate. Even Google says so. Using it to make campaign decisions is unwise at best, and reckless at worst.
Heck, I also have written a couple of posts warning against relying on PageRank as a metric when it is months out of date, Google PageRank Vs. SEOmoz Page Authority: Which is A Better Metric? and Do Sitelinks Convey More About How Google Rates Site than PageRank
Toolbar PageRank is a flawed metric " but it doesn't make sense to completely dismiss it during those periods when the data is fresh.
It can be a useful tool to gain insight into Googles rating of the link popularity of a page.
Just dont plan on being able to rely on PageRank as a metric, because it is anyones guess as to when it will be updated again or if it is headed for permanent retirement.
Question: which metric do you wish Google would publish on its toolbar? You can leave a comment by clicking here.