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This 181 message thread spans 7 pages: < < 181 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 > >     
Proposed: Google Should Stop Displaying Toolbar PR

 7:23 am on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is part 1 of the discussion, and it is locked. Part 2, the active
thread, is here: [webmasterworld.com...]

Toolbar PR is not just a harmless toy or an entertainment.

Toolbar PageRank numbers can be 3 months out of date or more. Some "PR Updates" have been buggy enough to seriously misrepresent a page's real PR. But despite these openly discussed flaws, the toolbar "report" affects the web culture in many ways - and most of them are negative.

Matt Cutts has blogged that PR Updates are considered pretty much a non-event around Google. But when that "non-event" is also buggy (because Google sees it as unimportant?), then some advertisers will not pay fair value to a website for hosting their ads. That's not entertaining at all, and it's no longer a non-event.

In our previous threads about reporting paid links [webmasterworld.com] and the rel="nofollow" attribute [webmasterworld.com], members expressed their frustration with the way Google's green pixels have distorted the natural balances of the web.

Enough is enough. Can't the folks in Mountain View see that this situation is nowhere near honorable or "entertaining"? Since it seems that up-to-date and accurate PageRank reporting is an extremely unlikely step for Google to take, I think the time has come for them to stop reporting ANY green fairy dust at all. Keep it as part of the secret sauce, sure, but stop teasing the public at large with funny numbers.

As I see it, PR (PageRank) = PR (Public Relations), and that's the main reason that Google keeps Toolbar PR report around. Branding. Image. Mindshare.

What do you think? Could you live without TBPR (Toolbar PageRank)? Would not seeing it help the web as a whole, or hurt it?

[edited by: tedster at 7:57 pm (utc) on Aug. 14, 2007]



 7:56 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Mandatory criteria:
- Would have to provide actionable info for webmasters
- Would need to be useful and interesting for the ~99.9% of users who aren't webmasters

Why would it have to provide "actionable info for webmasters?" Wouldn't it make more sense to let the toolbar serve the "~99.9% of users who aren't webmasters" and confine Webmaster information to the Google Webmaster Tools? (Either that, or offer two versions of the toolbar: A streamlined, confusion-free toolbar for users and a more detailed toolbar for Webmasters, SEOs, and compulsive toolbar-watchers).

Come to think of it, you could have two versions of the toolbar and offer the detailed Webmaster version only to Webmasters who use Google Analytics, Sitemaps, and other Google tools. That would be a nice quid pro quo from Google's point of view, although it would be guaranteed to stir up a hornet's nest on this and other Webmaster/SEO forums. :-)


 8:00 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Texasville, I think the key wording is here:

remains one of many effective measures of quality

(emphasis mine)

I have low PR pages (0-3) which outrank higher PR pages all the time - I figure it's because my pages are weighted more heavily in some of those other effective measures of quality. At least, that's my guess.


 8:11 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

The PR display is not great, but it's better than nothing.

Well said, steveb. We see so many side comments in various threads about the value of PR or the lack of it, that I thought a dedicated thread on the topic would be of some value. And as I admitted above, I am playing devil's advocate (that is, trolling) here, hoping to generate an informative discussion.

I use Opera as my main browser, and I have no green pixels visible there through any widget. I use Firefox for a lot of my analysis, and I do have PR available there through various extensions. So I agree that there is some value for me in seeing Google's publicly available PR number.


 8:31 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

If the TB is gone people are going to look for some other metric to guage a site. Like Alexa etc. Google would be silly giving the green away to someone else.


 8:33 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

If one thinks the green bar is useless, they just shouldn't use it themselves. I, myself, don't mind having a rough idea, even if it's an old snapshot taken a few times a year. It's still helps me realize if a site is a barely indexed personal blog, very new and possibly with a just few visitors a day, or some page that has more worldwide attention. It is also a valuable tool to know if one of my page has been indexed in the past months and given its adequate PR juice by my navigation system. But since the toolbar is not updated often, my initial interest has now become more moderate, which was the point, I imagine. I prefer a little than nothing at all. Let those who are still obsessed over it waste their own time.


 8:42 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

what feature you would like to see.

A similar-looking bar displaying some composite of quality metrics would be interesting.

The Contractor

 8:53 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Since it's not accurate and should really be for entertainment purposes, why not use emoticons?

:o = nofollow being used
:( = not indexable
;) = PR1-3
:) = PR4-6
dancing banana = PR7 or higher

Just kidding folks, but it would provide a more entertaining experience...hehe


 9:17 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

As a web surfer, I find it useful to help evaluate unfamiliar sites I visit. If a site has a pr7+, I consider it much more seriously if it has a pr3 or lower.


 9:30 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

As a web surfer, I find it useful to help evaluate unfamiliar sites I visit. If a site has a pr7+, I consider it much more seriously if it has a pr3 or lower.

What's a PR7+ "site"? A site may be made up of thousands of pages, each with its own PageRank.

For example, a Simpsonia travel guide's home page might have a PR of 6, but "inside pages" might have a PR of 2 or 3 (or nothing, if they're new). Does that mean Simpsonia-travel-guide.com's brand-new, detailed, 12-page guide to Springfield is less credible or useful than the one-paragraph blurb about that Springfield guide on the PR6 home page?

If the purpose of the toolbar is to indicate quality to Joe User, than maybe the green "gas gauge" should indicate the home page's PageRank, not the PR of the inside page that the reader is looking at.


 9:35 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Sigh.. and I thought tedster had seen the light.

Google will drop the TBPR as soon as they feel powerful enough that they don't need the inherent marketing power and/or metric data it provides.

Very simple.

That could be tomorrow or 30 years from now.


 9:36 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

spam rarely has PR

aehm! if i take "low quality/thin content" pages or "unnatural sub domain link boosting" into the "spam" area, i would say, that there are HUGE link farms out there with PR6 or 7 and that for months and months!

if you read matts post about the "minty fresh indexing" and how proud Google is of that speed (which is kinda cool, I admit), then a truly outdated visible PR value is fairly uncool.

I agree with tedster, that the actual state of the PR indication is not worth much, but some kind of indication would be nice to have - only if it would be more accurate.

Adam: If G has open resources I wonder, if it would be a cool idea to put some weight on improving that tool again or even re-invent it?

PageRank not as a fixed value of the counted backlinks and their value, but a fluxing, daily updated "fresh links" indication... something fresh, which changes every day. I can not believe, that you do not want to touch that thing forever, if you improve Gmail daily?

Make a button out of it, which leads to a Google custom info page (something Alexa has with the "Traffic details") and show some juice around the info:

- last updated
- domain has xyz indexed pages
- map of the server location
- related sites
- news which contain keywords from that domain
- and some of the other tools you already have
- AND you can place Adsense on that page, too :)

So, PageRank might not be the same you have written in the patent anymore, but just something updated, which feels fresh and gives the people the impression they get a bit more of the worlds information :)



 9:53 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I love the toolbar, use it constantly (I especially appreciate the highlight feature), and almost never look at the TBPR for any page I visit. If the SERPs that Google displays for my query allows me to easily find what I'm after, I just don't care where the green goes.

ps. I'd bet the "99.9%" that Adam referenced have pretty much the same attitude I have -- if the info they want can be quickly found, they won't even pay attention to the PR bar. It could disappear tomorrow and most people (webmasters excluded) would not even notice, as long as the best results came up reasonably high in the SERPs.



 10:28 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

If folks can't tell if a site they are viewing is worthwhile and valuable, without the toolbar, then the hypnosis is complete.

There's no way I rely on Google to tell me if a site is worth using or not. I could put up a useless site today, and once gotten enough links, it suddenly becomes fantastic. Oh please.

Toolbar, maybe it should be renamed Foolbar, with a capital F.

F for fail.


 10:29 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Anything that hinders the paid links economy is a good thing as far as I am concerned. With no toobar PR, people will not be able to advertise PR of pages selling links. That will help discredit link brokers and link sellers. And that would be a good thing.

I say: Google should dump the toolbar PR ASAP.


 10:34 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

The general public, for the most part, have no knowledge/understanding of the Toolbar and the number with it turned on would be miniscule. This discussion is really about the Toolbar and its relationship with the SEO/webmaster fraternity.

One of the elementary signals for webmasters is whether their websites pass Google's entrance exam. The toolbar is an indicator of success/failure and where Google has the site sitting relative to its peers.

Google's dominance of search, and their reliance on links for assessing site worth, has turned links into the currency of the internet. The link rich prosper, the link poor don't. Any web developer trying to give a site every chance of success is going to be harvesting links, either by natural means, reciprocals, paid, articles. blogging etc etc

How can we quickly assess the worth of a link partner site without having to commit way too much time? By checking Google's assessment of that site which is the Toolbar, flawed or not. That does not exclude a more detailed inspection of potential link partner sites, its just the first step of the process.

The harvesting of links to satisfy Google's appetite is an EXTREMELY expensive chore when you cost out your own time (and you should). Any tool, flawed or not, that helps minimise that manhour drain is a positive.

Without the efforts of independent website developers, Google has no business. Put simply, Google piggy backs on the efforts of others. That is not a bad thing if there are rewards for both parties.

For all of its perceived shortcomings, the toolbar provides some visual indication of whether a site is likely to succeed....and thus deliver some reward for the effort that went into creating it.

The toolbar should stay.... but as mentioned by others, keep it up to date. No point in having a garage full of blunt tools.


 10:48 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

pontifex post above is what I had in mind

As it stands, I think the Green bar presents the viewer, with information thats inaccurate by virtue of being untimely.

Furthermore, the viewer is given no information about the point in time at which this information would have been accurate

Can such information be said to properly represent Googles view of the said website?

If Google where not absolutely dominant, this might not matter so much, however, there is a considerable amount of information to suggest that a majority of web users accept the TBPR at face value, if they are aware off it

A company of Googles standing surely cannot continue to present its users with information that cannot be considered to be accurate or timely

[edited by: centime at 10:56 pm (utc) on Aug. 8, 2007]


 10:54 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Its accurate enough, sure maybe a few months out of date, but what does that matter with a 10 yr old website.
It is a good indicator for "importance" and credibility of a website.
Its also nice to know that your own link building is having an affect on building your PR.
It is also handy to know how comeptitive a search term is by judging the PRs of the top results.


 11:20 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Being a webmaster, I have never installed Google toolbar (or any toolbar powered by a search engine) and never will. I value my business too much to have a spyware watch my computer (and sites I manage).

Google admits the PR information is outdated. It can also be manipulated. I don't see any positive points of having Toolbar PR on my computer.


 11:29 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Foolbar can't tell if one site is more important than the next. It's based on number of links, which supposedly means the higher amount of links pointing to a site, is some kind of proof of value over the next site. A bit general assumption don't you think - far to general for any accuracy involved.

Like I said above, stick a site up, get 400 average any old links, and on the next update you get a PR3 - what the hell does that mean? It just means people spend less time actually looking at the site, which, I believe, is what the web is trying to accomplish here.

"My green pixels are longer than yours". My site MUST be superior huh? Pretty bar, cute bar - useless bar!

[edited by: Maxnpaddy at 11:33 pm (utc) on Aug. 8, 2007]


 11:31 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Keep the tool bar PR - It is a kind of mark of quality even though it could be better.

We can quickly tell if the site is new, if it is popular with other websites because they link to it or if its been banned due to some other issue in which case it helps you know if your site should be associated with it by linking or not to it. In all, the toolbar still has a use.

Mandatory criteria:
- Would have to provide actionable info for webmasters
- Would need to be useful and interesting for the ~99.9% of users who aren't webmasters

- I think its time to increase the scale now the internet contains so many sites so i would like to see it go to higher numbers than 9.
- it could have say "I" for indexed or "S" for not in the main index after it, to indicate the value of the page in the search engine or perhaps an "N" after it to indicate its a new page less than say a month old? some kind of letter to give instant additional data.

I think its time to upgrade the tool bar facility now as its stale and dated and could be improved significantly. I would like to see it updated more often or at least at regular times like once a quarter or something.

Thats my two pennys anyway


 11:32 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Mandatory criteria:
- Would have to provide actionable info for webmasters
- Would need to be useful and interesting for the ~99.9% of users who aren't webmasters

A similar-looking bar displaying some composite of quality metrics would be interesting.

A page quality score does sound potentially useful. Perhaps it'd encourage webmaster white-hattedness and also be a useful quick quality indicator for the other ~99.9%. Of course, if it's not kept up to date, it'd be no more helpful that the current TBPR.

Oliver Henniges

 11:49 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

> I'd love to know what feature you [i]would[/b] like to see.

As a matter of fact, today is the first day I noticed some such "other features" exist at all on the toolbar;) and that it tells me I might download even more...

I think 50% of google's success came from the clarity and simplicity of your homepage, particularly in contrast to all those other competing "portals" which came up in the late nineties. The reliability of its loading speed was the primary criterion, which made so many surfers define google as the start-page for their browser then. If I enter the web through a search engine, I want that search function as quickly as possible: No superfluous images, ads, "my#*$!" and all that crap. This still holds true in times of 16Mbit cable access.

Keep it simple.
Praeter necessitatem entias non esse multiplicanda.

I still have the toolbar installed for two reasons: A) I have quick access to a search-input-field without the need to open a new browser window. B) The toolbar gives me a rough impression of the importance of a webpage.

I want both these functions as reliable and accurate as possible. This is why I use google and its toolbar as a surfer.

There are many, many other features I would like to see as a webmaster, but I fully appreciate google's role in the reverse-engeneering-cats-and-mice-game, so I don't expect to see anything of interest concerning these features.


 12:05 am on Aug 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Actually, the biggest laugh here is when someone mentions Alexa as an alternative measurement device. Laughed so hard I almost fell out of my chair. The one thing on the net more out of sync and clueless is Alexa.


 12:05 am on Aug 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'd love to know what feature you [i]would[/b] like to see.

One of the most useful buttons of the toolbar was the one indicating ODP data. I like the Green Bar. I use it as a quicky glimpse. But it's not something I think of as a quality metric. The ODP data was useful in terms of a quality metric.


 1:07 am on Aug 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

My opinion: Dump the green bar and replace it with something useful, such as readable text buttons (instead of tiny undecipherable icons) for things like Google Images and Google News.


 1:14 am on Aug 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you have so much beef with the bar, you can just turn it off. It is OPTIONAL


 1:38 am on Aug 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google PR has always been provided as a favor. Yahoo once has a PR toolbar and that lasted maybe a few months. I'm guessing they pulled it for reasons pointed out in this thread - it's unnecessary to push that information out to the public. Innacurate as the information may be, it's still nice to know it's there should you want to look at it. And those that use it incorrectly do so at their own risk...

having said that, this is a nice 'forum building' topic such that everyone has an opinion on it and there is no right answer...


 1:56 am on Aug 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

No one seems to have realized what the PageRank display in the toolbar is all about. It allows Google to track which sites/pages have been visited. That data is extremely valuable to Google. The PR display isn't going anywhere.


 2:21 am on Aug 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

No one seems to have realized what the PageRank display in the toolbar is all about. It allows Google to track which sites/pages have been visited. That data is extremely valuable to Google. The PR display isn't going anywhere.

It's the toolbar, not the PR display, that allows Google's data gathering. I'd bet that, for most people, the Google search box is a much bigger motivator for using the toolbar than the PR gauge is.


 2:21 am on Aug 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

I got tired of Google following me around and uninstalled my toolbar. Page rank is not useful to the general public. The whole idea of ranking pages based on links was always flawed and should have been eliminated long ago.


 2:34 am on Aug 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google search box is a much bigger motivator for using the toolbar than the PR gauge is.

I absolutely agree. But now both IE7, Firefox, and Opera have the search boxes built in BY DEFAULT so there's really no reason to have the Google toolbar installed... It made sense a couple of years ago, not any more.

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