21st September 2007

As of today it’s been 141 days since the last visible Google Toolbar Pagerank update. That is nearly 3 weeks longer than the longest previous period on record of 122 days, (October 19, 2005 to February 18, 2006).

I know this because my own website just launched early this summer, Search Commander, and is still a PR zero except the home page. The reason the homepage has any PR is because I had a 301 redirect on it to my original site for a long time, but all of the other pages are brand-new in June. Is that entire site destined to be a (visible) PR0 forever? Nice.

What about Sphinn, that launched recently? Clearly that’s going to be an authoritative site, right? Should they be cursed with a little green bar that declares “I am worthless” to the uninformed visitor that might have the Google Toolbar installed?

Of course, most of you reading this probably know that the “visible” PR is outdated anyway, but who wants a PR0 showing in the Google Toolbar?

You would think there would be a lot of speculation in our industry about why this delay is taking place, yet hardly anyone seems to be talking about it publicly.

Maybe nobody’s talking about it because we might be a little nervous?
I know I am…

In a nutshell – a inbound link has more value if it comes from a page with higher page rank, and also has a lower number of outbound links. That may be oversimplifying, but read my rookies gude to determining link value if you want more details.

Even though it may be an inaccurate assumption, in many people’s eyes, a page without PageRank is a page without value. Google has conditioned the world to believe that the green bar means value, and lack of green means lack of value.

SEO’s have long known that we’re working off of old data shown in the toolbar, and Google has made no secret that they do that to make competition more difficult. If they were to put real-time PR in that toolbar, it might make things just a little too easy. That’s the same reason the link: search doesn’t show a decent list of links that Google is factoring into the ranking algorithm.

Now, however, instead of going just three months without an update we’re pushing nearly five months. If we can’t even determine what the PageRank is of a given page any longer, then it’s going to make a lot of things more difficult…

I’m nervous because for competitive research purposes, we rely on establishing an inbound link profile of competitors. Along with some legwork and a little math, you can fairly accurately determine which inbound links are the most important for your competitors SERPS, and pursue partnerships with those websites. That’s an edge I don’t like losing.

I’m also nervous because I frequently engage in the buying and selling of domain names both new and old, and an entire industry has sprung up, called “domaining” that relies in part on being able to value a piece of web real estate known as a domain name. The visible Google PR in the toolbar is a part of that evaluation process.

Google intentionally put a money green colored ranking scale on every page in the form of the PR meter in the toolbar. If you don’t want someone to sell something, then don’t tell us how much it’s worth!

Perhaps Google is only trying to stem the sale of paid links. If so, that’s fine, and it’s their right to do so, but then please dump the green bar altogether, INSTEAD OF SHOWING MISLEADING INFORMATION.

Google created the market for selling links in the first place by the way its algorithm works, as pointed out so well by nearly all of the panelists at the “Are paid links evil?” session at San Jose. At that session, Matt Cutts got an earful from Todd Malicoat , Michael Gray , Todd Friesen and Greg Boser, who are four of the most respected people in the industry.

Go read the write-ups on that session at SEO Roundtable , Bruce Clay, Top Rank, and Web Pro News, because that session may have been a more pivotal turning point than many of us realized at the time.

Google, if you’re going to keep it visible on the toolbar, I wish you’d give us some recent and regular data updates please, or just get rid of it already, because you’re mucking with peoples livelihoods.

(Thanks to SEOCompany.ca for helping us all keep track of our PR obsession ;)

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    5 Responses to Finally Dumping the PR in the Google Toolbar?

    1. gegan249 says:

      Great. I am still in shock a bit as I struggle to determine how to judge the credibility of a site. When I landed on a site, it was nice seeing a PR rating up there…I knew the site was for real.

      I don’t know what to do now.

    2. Well, I’m just hypothesizing here, but if it happens, and visible PR disappears, I would expect to see a rise of another universally accepted evaluation method, wouldn’t you?

      Might this be an area of opportunity? heh…

    3. Gary Pool says:

      I don’t know about the toolbar but the Google PageRake has been updated.

      See my post “Google PageRank Udated!”

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