As promised, I would like to address the statement that Google PR is “a meaningless number”, “it’s a void and empty score” or “it’s just a number”… Sorry guys, but it’s not as much as we would love it to be, and Google knows it’s not. So with Tom Berringer’s help, I’ll try to explain my point of view on why PR is as important as ever and how the latest PR penalties are damaging even if they don’t affect traffic directly.
There’s a great saying in this badass action movie, and it comes towards the beginning of the movie when Jonathan Shale (played by Tom Berringer) is looking to establish authority over his ghetto classroom and he is guided by the words of Principal Claude Rolle (played by Ernie Hudson). He explains in order to gain instant respect with his students, at the beginning of the year they have a presentation where he basically smashes his fist through a piece of wood, hinting rather strongly at what will happen to anyone deciding to get a little too uppity in class. He then explains he uses the concept of “power perceived is power achieved”, and he’s absolutely right. Even though he didn’t physically break some punk in two, the students definitely knew that’s what would happen if they stepped out of line.
Well, Google has broken their boards a few times and have created a similar concept: “Value perceived is value achieved”.
There is no arguing that there is perceived value in achieving high page rank, and if you can increase your site’s page rank, you achieved in earning your site increased value. You can scream that page rank is meaningless all you like, but there is no question that PR is alive and well, even if it has nothing to do with your traffic any more or even your quality. In the hearts and minds of webmasters the world over, PR is just one of a few key indicators or a website’s value and is used to gauge all sorts of dollar related indicators. And examples are out in plain sight!
Along with Alexa ratings, Google PR is one of the biggest selling points for any site looking to sell ad space, services or even to sell itself. In fact, PR can even be used to gain customer trust… surely a website with a PR 5 can be trusted a lot more than some PR 2 site that sells the exact same thing right? Value perceived is value achieved.
If there’s one thing Google knows, it’s how to make money and how to influence the web, even if it’s to simply correct or improve their own internal functionality. Let’s face it, if Google has a policy change for internal controls that affects ranking or positioning, webmasters around the world jump on it like wildfire and look at how to optimize and adapt their sites to this new change. It’s only natural, there’s nothing to be ashamed of… many of us count on Google for TONS of traffic, revenue, sustainability and ultimately, e-survival. In this latest move to penalize key websites for selling links to influence their PR index, Google knows exactly what they are doing… by lowering visible PR ratings, they are reducing the perception of value in that site. You’ll have a lot harder time justifying your ad asking prices if you went from a PR7 to a PR4 despite your traffic levels staying exactly the same.
Same thing goes for those of you looking to sell your website or company. One of the first things an experienced buyer will do is check your PageRank… if your sales pitch is reporting massive inbound site traffic but your PR is in the toilet, it does nothing but raise red flags. Then if you try to explain that your PR has been penalized and you’re “really a PR 7”, you’ve just raised another flag and opened up a can of worms. Would YOU buy a site that had just been penalized for any reason by Google? That’s like buying a car that a mechanic just warned you about shooting flames out the exhaust pipe, but “it’s nothing to worry about”.
How about SEO companies? Would you take an SEO company trying to sell you an expensive consulting package seriously if their own website couldn’t muster up anything beyond a PR4? Sure, it’s just a number right? Somehow I don’t think so… again, value perceived is value achieved, and the door swings both ways.
So how does Google fix this? They can’t and they probably won’t… truth be told, PR should simply be removed in favor of a visitor related tracking system similar to the Alexa rating system tracked via the millions of people using the Google Toolbar. Visible PR is meaningless purely from a search point of view, I agree… but when it comes to perceived website value, having your Google Page Rank penalized is a crushing blow to anyone’s monetization efforts and I truly feel bad for any webmaster that was hit with this problem and innocently had no idea their linking methods would land them in trouble.
That’s my take on the PR number issue, and I hope you’ve enjoyed my rather stretched out analogy. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter so please feel free to click on the comment button below and use the form to share your feedback with me and the rest of my blog readers.