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Google PageRank: Not Worth the Worry

By John Metzler

I notice that a lot of webmasters are obsessed with Google PageRank (Entire sections of SEO forums are even devoted to PR). Web sites do not live and die by their PageRank. A PR 6 web site may rank lower than a site with a PR 5 due to other Search Engine Optimization factors. Search engine results are not proportional to a web site's PageRank value.

The PageRank value is a representation of a web site's internal and external link structure. Internally, your web site's pages should be easily accessible from each other and use anchor text relevant to the theme of the web site. Externally speaking, outbound links should be good quality and/or relevant to your web site's content. And finally, it is widely known that incoming links also contribute quite a bit to PageRank. There is obviously much more to achieving good search engine rankings that the above linking strategies.

With that being said, many webmasters become obsessed with the PageRank of their web sites and consider it to be the bottom line of any search engine marketing campaign. This type of thinking can cloud a much more important issue of whether or not the client has seen an improvement in search engine placement and web site traffic. Always base your achievements on specific rankings for keywords that have been well-researched. If you go parading around about achieving a PageRank of 6 for your client, he or she won't care if they aren't seeing a return on their investment, now will they?

If you're working to increase your link popularity through reciprocal links and refuse to link to web sites that are lower than PR 5, rethink your strategy. Well-designed, well-ranked sites with informative content are always a safe bet to link out to. That was my basic strategy with a client of mine in the hospitality industry.

They had a PageRank 4 (at the time of writing this article, January 2005) and rank at #6 on Google for 'bed and breakfast directory' (without quotes). The #7 result has a PR 6 and the next three spots in the first page of results are PR 5 web sites, all higher than my client. This example is repeated throughout the Web and proves that preoccupying yourself with PageRank can result in losing sight of more important ranking factors.