6 reasons to celebrate the removal of PageRank
The sun has has finally set on PageRank – one of the many algorithms used by the Google in the past. But why is that something to celebrate?
If you’ve never heard of PageRank, it was essentially a lot of complex calculations and checks boiled-down into an “out of 10” score. While it might sound useful, in reality, it hugely over-simplified a lot of very important issues, and lead to a generation of SEOs who were obsessed with that one number.
The news that this data will no longer be available to the public isn’t a surprise for SEOs. The first signs of its slow death emerged as early as 2009 when Google removed the PageRank distribution graph from Webmaster tools (now Search Console).
Then in 2011, Webmaster Trend analysts prompted webmasters to look beyond the PageRank score as a measure of their website’s performance in search. Now nearly five years after this announcement, and after reducing the update frequency over the years, Google has finally decided not to show this stat within the browser toolbars all together (although they are apparently still using it in the background alongside other algorithms).
It might not seem something to celebrate, but in fact the death of PageRank should finally put an end to a number of unpleasant factors tied to SEO. Here are just six reasons to be grateful for this development:
#1 SEOs will be less obsessed with link acquisition
In its heyday, PageRank prompted SEOs to purely focus on links and not pay attention to other key issues within the site such as technical and content optimisation. Getting a link from “a high PageRank site” lead to many poor decisions and lazy strategies. We’re very pleased to see those days come to an end at last.
#2 Site owners can focus on link *earning*
Instead of simply acquiring high-PR links through any means (blog commenting, article submissions, forum submissions etc), smart site owners will (hopefully) shift their focus to raising brand awareness and earning links through creative content and engaging campaigns. This in turn should lead to a richer and more even-handed relationship between site owners and social influencers.
#3 Addressing Search 3.0 will take priority
Just as Google has been removing link-related features from the search console, it has been replacing them with tools that are some of the strongest clues of where the search engine wants webmasters to focus. Features such as the Structured Data Testing Tool, the Data Highlighter, Mobile Friendliness checker and the recently added AMP checker will need to be at the core of any SEO recommendations in the future.
#4 Mobile-friendliness can come to the fore
With brands reporting 70-80% of their traffic coming from mobile devices, and Google making it a ranking signal, having a mobile-first approach as a business strategy will also trickle down to organic search. It will be increasingly difficult for SEOs to justify any strategy without addressing mobile friendliness of the websites in question. PageRank will soon be but a distant memory.
#5 Addressing user-intent will gain significance
SEO strategies used to focus on acquiring links from high PageRank sites that included the required keywords in anchor text to be able to influence rankings. Simple, effective, but very lazy.
This is now changing; Google is a lot more intelligent and rewards websites that fulfil intent, rather than simply showing sites that have keywords in certain places on a webpage. SEO specialists will rapidly adopt this change and focus on purposefulness of the content, rather than simply being keyword optimised.
#6 The focus will turn to conversions and bounces
Improving conversion rates and bounce rates will serve as better KPIs to measure how your SEO is improving, because they are more directly connected with your business objectives – rather than an arbitrary algorithm-based PageRank score. After all, these two KPIs are perhaps the easiest ways to say whether your webpages are ‘fulfilling intent’.
Overall, the death of the PageRank tool has a series of many battles that Google has won against some of darker elements of the SEO world. A quick look at this timeline makes it clear that through a series of algorithm changes, penalties and the introduction of new features, it has forced brands to adapt and think of their organic strategy in a new light.
The key to this development will be how soon you can adapt to this change and start future proofing your website’s SEO.