03 Oct 2006

Pagerank Bar doesn’t Equal Search Engine Rankings.

There’s an interesting thread over on Webmasterworld about Google increasing the fairy dust (Pagerank) for sites that buy big ole links.

The fun part is where Roger (Martinibuster) (the Moderator for the Link Building Category on WW) keeps trying to make a point about the visible Pagerank not meaning anything as far as rankings are concerned.

There’s some great quotes by some great minds…but Martinibuster takes the cake, and steals the show with some great comments. Here’s some beauties from Martinibuster in that thread:

Google does not reveal PR
What you see in the toolbar does not reflect true PR. So do not use it as a metric of what Google thinks about a site, including whether it’s PR has been boosted, because it does not reflect the true state. Do not use it to judge whether a site is being rewarded as it won’t tell you.

I don’t know how much clearer I can make it:

The toolbar does not reflect REAL PR.
The toolbar is unreliable by design.
Toolbar PR is virtually meaningless.
Toolbar PR is not an SEO metric.

Google is not an SEO tool
All of Google’s tools and searches have been tweaked to make them less useful as SEO tools. For instance, the backlink search only shows a sample, and this sample may or may not reflect what is counting to your PR. intitle and inurl searches are not predictive of how well you’re going to rank, etc. Notice a pattern? Google purposefully, by design, has tweaked their tools, including the toolbar, to minimize their effectiveness as SEO tools.

Believe your eyes
For your situation, the only thing visible is PR’s effect, which is why I am asking if they are ranking better or not. If they aren’t ranking better then your question is answered- the links are not helping as per Matt Cutt’s suggestion- or vice-versa.

another from Roger:

Showing up on the backlink search means nothing.

Just because something shows up in the backlink search does NOT mean it’s being counted as a backlink for purposes of calculating it’s PageRank, or that it’s counting as a backlink.

The ONLY metric that is reliable is how well the site ranks.

Three years ago GoogleGuy had this to say about guestbook backlinks:

I think it’s a good time to mention that guestbooks showing in backlinks does not mean that they contribute much/any in scoring. Maybe we should stop showing guestbooks in backlinks and people everywhere would feel better. 

Matt Cutts at SES London

Q: What is up with the Google link: command?
A: Google says they are not reporting all your links back to your site. So think before using it. 

Another from Roger:

I’ll try to explain it again.

The above two factors are unreliable metrics for judging the efficacy of a paid link. The metric that should concern you is if the site is ranking better than it was before the paid links.

A bump in PR is meaningless if it is NOT accompanied by a bump in ranking. Your posts have so far focused on a bump in PR but have been quiet on how well the site is ranking. Your focus should be the other way around, silent on the issue of toolbar PR and focused on the ranking.

Backlink SERPs are not meant to represent PR metrics
Likewise, you got excited about links showing up in backlinks, and it’s well known that the backlink SERPs are not meant to be an indicator of what is counting for PR. Google is purposefully doing that so that it won’t be useful as an SEO tool or metric.

Similarly, the toolbar is not an indicator of a website’s "internal PR" (the real PR score that they see in the GooglePlex).

Instead of crowing how successful a link buying campaign is because of a rise in toolbar PR, you should be focusing on the ranks of the sites that are buying links.

I am not saying that buying links will not help a site rank better
I am not saying that buying links will help a site rank better

What I am saying is that you are looking at the WRONG metrics for measuring the success of a link buying effort.

 Another from Roger:

Trust relates to how well a site ranks. It has ZERO to do with the toolbar. Absolutely nothing.

Pay attention now, don’t get distracted:
Everyone outside of Google has ZERO way of knowing whether the PR of a site has been boosted by a link. You have no clue, whatsoever.

Outside of seeing the EFFECTS of a PR boost, you have no way to know whether the PageRank has been boosted. Which is why if you want to know whether PageRank has been boosted, you must speak about the EFFECTS, because you cannot know whether PR has been boosted.

another from Roger:

Please, think about it rationally for a moment.

If you are spamming with guestbook links and are ranking well for five or six months then lose your ranks when the links are pulled out from beneath you, you may view that as a penalty. But it’s not. Your site is ranking where it should be because your guestbook links are not counting, they have become neutral, as in they don’t count.

Similarly, if you point a bunch of guestbook links at a competitor, what may happen is either the site will rank better or else it will rank the same (because the links are neutral and won’t count). No penalty.

No businesses are being hurt. They just need to unlearn what they learned years ago (like worsipping the toolbar PR), and go back to SEO 101 and SEM 101. It’s the same old game but the rules of the game have changed.

Another, as Roger gets fustrated:

The GREEN BAR on the TOOLBAR is NOT PageRank.

There’s more great quotes in that thread, and a lot of senior members and Moderators like Tedster, and Sugarrae also give some great information for those who might believe that that little green bar on the Google toolbar might mean anything. 

I still have to explain to people almost everyday that PR doesn’t mean anything to rankings, you too? (or do you disagree?)