Mike Grehan, an SEO guru for whom I have the greatest respect, rails on PageRank in his ClickZ article “What Price PageRank? Part 2.” I don’t agree with everything he says, but this little pearl of Mike’s is some sage advice about not buying links based on PageRank score alone:
If I’m paying for links, I want a lot more tangible evidence from the site owner. I want stats that tell me how visible the links are across all major search engines, how much traffic they send, and how much traffic they attract overall. I want to see the site owner is a savvy online marketer and is an authority in his community or is developing a presence as such. I need to know he understands and uses analytics to provide tactical data. This is sound, useful marketing intelligence. It’s a lot more important to me than a meaningless 4 or 5 in a little sprinkling of green fairy dust above the pages.
Is Google’s PageRank algorithm fundamentally broken, as Mike asserts? I don’t think so. What I am certain of however is that the PageRank values shown in the Google Toolbar are imprecise, months old, and not the same as the PageRank as what is used in Google’s ranking algorithm. PageRank scores are merely indicative. Of course you have to take them with a grain of salt. PageRank as an algorithm is alive and well, and will adapt with the times. One way we can probably expect to see it evolve is with the incorporation of “TrustRank“, a concept where a small number of reputable seed pages are used to help differentiate good pages from spam.
I’m not giving up on PageRank any time soon. Especially after reading John Battelle’s heartwarming account of the birth and evolution of PageRank. It’s a great story… makes me want to run out and buy Google stock.