The Day Google PageRank Died and Why

A teal body of water with a measuring scale up to 7.6 meters. It's a bit above 6m now and it's green.

Do you remember Google’s PageRank named after founder Larry Page? Maybe you have seen the little green bar in the Google toolbar that represented it on a scale from 1 to 10?

October 24th, 2007 marked the day when PageRank died. It became virtually useless. At least the publicly visible one. Why? What was the purpose of Google PageRank in the first place?

PageRank was revolutionary when it was introduced by Google.

That’s why Google is where it is now: the leader in search. PageRank was determined by the number and “value” of links.

The more links and the better the links (a link by the Washington Post is of course better than one by a small unknown website like mine) the higher the PageRank.

Reminiscing the Good Old Days When PageRank Meant Something

In the beginning, a higher PageRank meant almost automatically a higher position in the organic Google search results. Nowadays you mostly see ads on top.

The simple math was an invitation to abuse though. The global PageRank trade began. People would buy and sell links for profit. Gaming Google became a big business.

A site having a 7 would outrank a PR 6 website which would come before a PageRank 5 page. Logical isn’t it? Over the years the algorithm became increasingly complex though.

Google added more and more so called ranking factors.

Thus a PageRank 7 site could be outranked by a PageRank 3 site if the latter was significantly more relevant to the search query. Google itself claims to use about 200 “signals” in their search ranking algorithm.

Still PageRank was used to determine which pages have authority as it still measured the number and power of links.

How PageRank Became a Random Vanity Metric

Then Google PageRank finally stopped to reflect the number and strength of of incoming links. Since 2007 it is determined in a way nobody can trust anymore. Let me explain:

One day got PageRank 6. Hooray! Wait. Something went wrong on the same day. The Washington Post just got 5!

Some of the most popular bloggers like the world’s most linked weblog – Engadget – got PageRank 5 too. Problogger got 4 and marketing guru Andy Beard 3.

Do you really think I am more important than the Washington Post or the most popular gadget blog?

Do you really assume that I am 1/3 more important than the Problogger?

The bottom line is: Google PageRank became meaningless as a metric.

People who depended on the Google PageRank bar to determine the authority of a site were fed manipulated numbers.

Google PageRank became only a means of intimidation of webmasters. Google used it to “penalize” sites suspected of wrongdoing.

Google is the new Microsoft. It uses their monopolistic market position to wield power over you.

Google is not the Internet though. Even though it’s one of the most powerful corporations in the world people and lawmakers are increasingly tired of Google.

China was just the beginning. They abused the Chinese people, now they abuse everyone else. In that context my PageRank 6 is as worthless as Andy Beard’s 3.

The PageRank metric is officially dead.

Google even stopped showing it by now. PageRank is still part of the overall algorithm but does not suffice to show up on top off organic results. Some additional articles and discussions about the topic for further reading:

  1. Google Declares Jihad On Blog Link Farms
  2. PageRank Drops for Many Sites
  3. 2nd Google PageRank in October 2007
  4. Google Drops PageRank For Many Sites : Paid Links or New Algorithm?