As search engines continue to develop and generate new ways of determining website relevance, the methods used for articulating site performance are becoming more nuanced. This encourages a new approach to search engine optimization that matches the ever changing landscape of the internet.
PageRank is Dead/Dying/Needs to be Gone
Several years ago, PageRank information was updated every few months, but now these updates occur much less frequently. The lack of up-to-date information regarding PageRank reveals that this is no longer a reliable indicator of a site’s performance. At the very least, it cannot be the sole measurement of site performance and should only be interpreted as part of the larger picture (which should always be the focus).
There are a growing number of experts who say that PageRank isn’t important at all. By zooming out from this singular focus, it is clear that a balanced performance review approach which considers more than PageRank is the way to go. We recommend that you take a holistic look at your site to determine its true SEO prowess. For example, other important factors to consider include the number of quality inbound links you have and the strength of your social media presence.
It is very important to put effort into truly understanding your metrics in order to assess what is actually going on. Case in point: if you compare two months’ worth of visitor traffic and see that you had more traffic last month as compared to this month, it isn’t necessarily a reason to panic. Did you engage in an email marketing campaign or launch PPC the previous month? Were these methods effective?
At the end of the day, PageRank (and other third party metrics like DA/Alexa ranking) are certainly not the only thing you should be focusing on, it’s too simplistic of a metric in modern SEO. The stuff that you should be focusing on simply cannot be locked down into any one singular metric, unless you want to talk about “sales” and/or “return on investment”.
A High PageRank Does Not Mean You Won’t Get a Penalty
Go read this piece on Marketing Land that lists out 10 big brands that were penalized by Google. Go ahead, I’ll wait…
Back? Okay, you think those sites had really high PageRank? You bet! Did it stop them from getting hit with a penalty? No. High PageRank doesn’t make your site safe. I’d even say that if you’re able to get your PageRank to increase dramatically (if Google ever updates it, crossing my fingers they never do) you’d be more apt to getting a manual review from Google.
Everyone wants to have a quality site and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, instead of chasing the green bar, what if…we focus on actually improving the quality of our sites?
Focus on Quality
PageRank used to be equated with higher search engine rankings and more web traffic coming through a website. It’s not quite that simple anymore. Instead of focusing on PageRank, redirect your energy into links following the quality over quantity rule to produce positive results.
While PageRank is not the most accurate way of evaluating a site’s performance, links are good for search engine optimization. Until further notice, the search engines are still heavily reliant upon link equity to determine which websites should rank. Here’s the takeaway: Useful, high quality links are helpful. Opt for such links instead of focusing on the amount of links from one site to another. Quality is key.
PageRank sculpting is an ineffective method for increasing a site’s rankings and does little to address site performance. Focusing on the quality of links and overall performance rather than manipulating a single aspect of SEO will yield far more stable results. The best performance metrics to focus on include:
- Conversion rate: This is when a visitor not only comes to your site, but undertakes a desired action, such as signing up for a newsletter, “clicking here,” downloading a free report, clicking an affiliate link, calling a toll-free number, commenting on a blog post, sharing using a social media button, and the like. After all, you don’t want people to just come to your site…you want them to act!
- Clickthrough rate: Showing up in the SERPs is great, but you actually want to be visited. Clickthrough rate doesn’t measure if you show up on Google, it measures how many of your visitors come through Google (and other search engines). There’s no point in having a great PageRank if nobody visits your site.
- Bounce rate: Bounce rate determines how many people visited your site, and then left far too quickly to visit a page or read
a post. This is an indicator of the quality of your site traffic. If you get a hundred people who visit your page and stick around for a while, that’s far better than getting a thousand visitors that leave after three seconds.
- Referral traffic: If you’re going after quality links, then one marker in analytics you’ll notice (or that you should notice) are the spikes coming in from referral traffic. Links are meant to be seen and they are meant to be clicked. If you’ve obtained some really good links you should also be seeing some good referral traffic.
If you find that these metrics aren’t all that great for your site, here are some other things you can do to add quality to your site:
- Resources: Create something that your visitors can and will use, and something they will want to share with others. (like a list of local citations for instance)
- Better blog posts: There is nothing wrong with writing blog posts, unless – of course – the posts published on your website are completely irrelevant (ie: you’re writing about your dog) or if they are a series of self-promoting drivel. If you find that what you’ve been publishing hasn’t been getting shared or isn’t getting people talking, maybe it’s time to get a fresh set of eyes to look at it and work on creating better content.
- User experience: If you aren’t getting the conversions or time on site that you wish you had, you should consider adding something that monitors how visitors or users are navigating your site. Are they able to get around just fine or are they having difficulty getting from page to page? Having a nice design is great, but if it’s not usable, what’s the point?
While PageRank might remain one part of how we understand website value, it should not be considered the most important, and certainly not more important than the metrics mentioned above. A wiser approach is to shift your focus to these other aspects of site performance.