After 20 years, Google has officially shut down its toolbar PageRank to the general public.
It has been a number years since Google updated the PageRank scores in the Google Toolbar, and Google has been trying to lessen the importance of PageRank over those years, as well. There was much speculation as to whether or not Google would actually release another update for the PageRank Toolbar, but last month Google revealed they would officially remove the from their toolbar feed and that it would be removed in a number of weeks. This finally happened on Friday, April 15th, 2016.
Internally, Google will still be using the PageRank data, however it will no longer be available to the general public. This also means that any third party tools which display Google PageRank data will no longer be able to access it, therefore making them redundant to us as the user.
What is Google PageRank?
Google PageRank is used to calculate the authority of a website on a scale of 1-10 (1 being poor, 10 being excellent). Google PageRank score (often referred to as "PR") is also used to determine the value of inbound links. Inbound links are links to your website on other websites.
Why has Google removed PageRank?
When this information was available to the public, it led to a string of blackhat SEO offences. Blackhat SEO refers to the use of aggressive and unethical search engine optimisation strategies and techniques that focus solely on search engines and bots crawling websites, and not a human user. Some examples of blackhat SEO methods include keyword stuffing, invisible text (text that is the same colour as the page/section background), adding unrelated keywords to the page content or page swapping (changing the page entirely after it has been indexed by search engines). It could be quite easy to manipulate the Google PageRank score, and these blackhat tactics were ways of doing so.
Google will still be using PageRank score when deciding how to rank content in search results, but the general public and website owners will not have access to their PageRank score.
What does this mean for me?
If you are using the Google PageRank toolbar or any third party tools to view your PageRank, these will no longer be updated and any existing PR-related data will no longer be valid. However, this does not mean that you do not need to build strong links and high quality content. It is still very important to ensure that your website content is of the highest quality, for both the reader and search engines like Google and Bing. You need to make sure your content is relevant and interesting, and must also include your keywords and phrases. The same goes for backlinks - it's important to build high quality links for other relevant websites. This all adds up into your overall search engine optimisation, and strong links can lend a lot of weight to your website, adding value and trust to your website and company.
If you would like any assistance with your website and/or search engine optimisation, get in touch with our friendly team on 0845 094 6108 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.