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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Toolbar PageRank numbers can be 3 months out of date or more.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]



 7:50 am on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I used to get quite worked up about PR until I realised that there wasn't a direct relationship with the SERPS on any particular keyword.

It was a very worrying fortnight.


 7:58 am on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

The PR indicator is probably the only reason why many SEO folks have the Googlebar installed. Remove the TBPR and lose a big Googlebar user base also.


 8:28 am on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

A car without a fuel gauge or one indicating sometimes the wrong figures: what is better?

In case of a car I prefer the last, in case of TBPR remove it!


 8:46 am on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I did not see PR as the important factor for ranking anymore, just for fun. The higher PR, the stronger the website, but sometimes nice guys finish last.

For your idea, I still love to see the green bar on my browser because somehow, it is the only interesting thing that gives me information on the popularity of a website.


 9:00 am on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

As a Mac user I've had to learn to do without TBPR, probably an advantage as it makes you look more carefully at websites...

Pass the Dutchie

 9:34 am on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I agree with Tedster but I still install the Green-o-meter despite your valid points.

I still find that after a second PR update the:

- White bar indicates that a page/site is indexed but has no incoming links or links which do not pass on 'juice'.

- Grey bar tells me that a new site/page is not yet indexed or has spidering problems. Alternatively the page/site has been previously indexed but has since the previous update been dropped from the index.

If I want to link to a resource that I think is useful for my visitors a grey tool bar might make me ask a few more questions before linking to it.

A cheesy anecdote if you will. "A page with PR is like a little green planet. It may no longer exist, but it did exist at some point and that tells me something."



 9:45 am on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't see a problem with Toolbar PR. If someone doesn't want to pay you for adverts on your site based upon what you believe to be inaccurate Toolbar PR then it is a weakness in their evaluation method not in the data they are using.

I might decide that people with Green Skin are not good employees and refuse to hire them. Does that mean that all skin should be hidden from prospective employers? Of course not. It means that the evaluation method I am using is wrong.

If you feel that judgements are being made on the basis of Toolbar PR which are negatively influencing your business then sue whoever it is that is refusing to cough up the money due to a low Toolbar PR. Just as a Green Skinned employee would sue if he discovered I'd not hired him due to having Green Skin.

Patrick Taylor

 10:18 am on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

A company with a reputation for excellence. Everything they do should work properly, so either get TBPR working properly or drop it altogether. At present, it's half baked - a joke - and does Google no credit whatsoever.


 10:31 am on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google says:

"Wondering whether a new website is worth your time? Use the Toolbar's PageRankô display to tell you how Google assesses the importance of the page you're viewing."

Far reaching and influential statement for a feature that is a buggy non-event.


 11:17 am on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I too see it as a good overall indication of... first of all, age ( page is at least 3-4 months old ), being spam or not ( spam rarely has PR ), and whether site will try to install spyware within 3 seconds or not. I like it from a user perspective, and see little else playing a role here. I know SEO and I don't care about PageRank scores in that regard, yet it's fairly accurate in predicting stuff for me as a casual user.

Why, what are you using it for?


Isn't it that people are STILL not educated about the changes in Google? ( There won't be official branding of a parameter ever again, that's for sure! )

Most people treat Google as if it was '99, they rely on five to ten year old info... on the web that changes every other week. For example I come here every day to see if the world has yet again turned upside down.

If a company won't do business with you because of PageRank, you shouldn't do business with them either and for a very good reason...

They're ignorant, slow, uninformed, and/or conservative.

They're not fit for the web.



 2:25 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I kind of like having it there, but I wouldn't be upset if it went away (i.e. I'm pretty much on the fence about it) It doesn't seem to correspond with rankings, and that's mainly what I care about.


 2:57 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

The site: and link: commands don't work properly either. How many here would like to get rid of them?

PR score as a basic, initial indicator of quality at a glance was and is still a good idea. Of course the practice is different but that's no reason to scrap it.

People get conned into buying sites or links for fake (or temporary) high PR. They should have done their research. People buying links or ads based on PR value should accept that it can change and that it is not to be trusted. And anyone renting space on their site who doesn't have a disclaimer about PR going up and down should have written a better contract with their ad buyers or informed them what they were buying - NOT PR, but traffic, right?

I find the PR bar useful more when it is white or grey than anything else, but I welcome it as an extra 'tool' when assessing a site and woudl be sorry to see it go.


 3:02 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I doubt if most users pay much attention to toolbar PR, so whether the green bar is there or not, or whether it's accurate or blatantly wrong isn't likely to be a big deal from a typical user's perspective.

However, I'd be happy to see the PR gauge disappear, mainly because:

1) Dumping the green bar might help to reduce the flood of spam "link exchange" e-mails that promise a link from a PRn page, and...

2) It might discourage obsessions with PageRank by site owners who think PR is the only factor that Google uses in its search algorithm.

I don't expect the green bar to go away any time soon, though, because it encourages toolbar use (especially by the kind of people Google wants to watch).


 3:43 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Out of date or not, anyone who cares to look at it either knows about the time differential or should know if they don't.

There are still very valuable signals to glean from the TBPR and I think it would be a mistake to remove it altogether.


 3:45 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Just checked all of my machines and realized that during various upgrades and such over the past few months that I haven't taken the time to install or reinstall the toolbar on any of them.

So, I guess that puts me firmly in the camp of TBPR being quite unimportant. And agree, G should dump it as it's just a distraction and takes concentration away from more important aspects of web marketing.


 3:49 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Point is: there's no harm in it being there. I feel it's useful, and I'm a user. I'm not using it as an SEO. There's no point, it has nothing to do with rankings.


And you know what, I don't think Google minds that the mis- and underinformed tricksters buying/selling PR get their $1,000 lessons every now and then.

To be completely honest for a moment...
I don't mind either.

I feel sorry for the collateral ( newbie webmasters ) but yeah, as mentioned in the other thread, do your research! Don't take this profession lightly, it decides the fate of tens, hundreds of millions of $ in online sales and marketing, a tough and competitive field, SEO is.


While I collaborate here and help all I can, those lurkers, spammers, whoever who have set WW to read-only on their PCs / or log in under busty female first names and post stuff like "I buy too many link, google penalize whatnow"... can buy and sell fictive parameters as much as they want.


I manage quite a few sites with good PageRank and I don't get a "flood of link exchnage requests". And when I do get one or two, occasionally, I get it because the top ranking of the pages, and not the greenery on the toolbar.

OK did this post sound cruel?
Realist, idealist ...? Neither or both?


 3:58 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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.

I don't know if that's a good reason to dump the green bar. Advertising shouldn't be tied to the green bar. Advertising should be concerned with pageviews and unique visitors. Link buys are marginally concerned with the green bar, but even there I would suggest that the green bar is a red herring for determining a quality link and I cannot see it being useful as a quality metric.

Branding. Image. Mindshare.

Google has been upfront about that. Their engineers constantly tell us the toolbar is not for webmasters to make business decisions off of or for ranking better, or for unraveling what the secret sauce is. The fault belongs squarely with webmasters for being lazy by doing what everybody else is doing and ignorant for not researching it for themselves and seeing the answer coming straight from Google engineers. Yeah they're going to backpedal enough to keep you using it, but we all know it's not useful for SEO purposes.

You know it's not good for you, so why do you still use it?
I mean, come on, it's 2007 and webmasters are still insisting to their link monkeys to discount anything under PageRank 4. Anyone still hung up by PR 4 couldn't be more lost and confused short of...

People in the know don't use GTBPR as a metric. Everyone else can keep on using it as far as I care because it gives me the competitive advantage. If Google should stop displaying the toolbar it would be one less tool for Google to keep webmasters off balance, plus a dip in mindshare through toolbar use. It's webmasters using the toolbar and influencing others to use it, right?

In my opinion it's not about Google displaying the green bar, or even keeping it up to date. It's about webmasters not understanding what a proper metric is.


 5:11 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I like having it. It does provide useful information. I don't surf with it enabled by default, but I do sometimes have occasion to go and check out some page ranks.

Just because it's not perfect, or isn't as deterministic as some people seem to think, doesn't mean it shouldn't exist at all.

[edited by: jomaxx at 5:14 pm (utc) on Aug. 8, 2007]


 5:12 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>Everyone else can keep on using it as far as I care because it gives me the competitive advantage.

Plus many competitors in crustier industries are just discovering what the little green bar 'means'. I'd hate for that rug to be jerked out from under them.

However, with Google's recent PR push on paid & recip no-no's, it seems that ditching TBPR would most likely aid in the linking forever-war they're stuck in.


 5:17 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks tedster!

I totally agree that the toolbar is utterally useless. I uninstalled mine about 6 months ago after years of watching little green pixels.

I believe that if Google removed the toolbar then paid links would be a thing of the past, and that natural linking (which G wants) would become much more relevant.

The web should be about content but most webmasters "had" become some obsessed with the PR and even if your site had great content but low PR they would not link to you. I gave up about a year ago trying to acquire reciprocal links.

It was a novelty for a short time but as with most novelities they are short lived and soon forgotten.


 5:45 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I believe that if Google removed the toolbar then paid links would be a thing of the past, and that natural linking (which G wants) would become much more relevant.

I kinda doubt that. If the toolbar went away tomorrow, that would just lead to development of more 3rd party page/strength, site/strength, etc. tools. Some of them might even be more accurate than the toolbar!
But even if they were'nt, webmasters would just find something else to obsess over. I see people selling links and sites based on their alexa rank.


 6:30 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I agree that in it's current state the pr toolbar is not much more than annoying. Howeber the gray bar effect does lend some idea to what pages in a site are doing.

Well..no toolbar...no supplementals being exposed..it truly seems to me that google is going backwards. It seems like they are wandering aimlessly. Instead of fixing what they do have, that everyone is beginning to understand, they just drop interest.
It does leave one to believe that they want everyone to sign up for their tools section.


 6:40 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

It does leave one to believe that they want everyone to sign up for their tools section.

If it takes a verified owner to see the more complete data (as it does currently with links), and then competitors are kept more in the dark, then that's a good thing.

I admit to playing devil's advocate with this thread, to a degree at least. I do glean some useful information from toolbar PR - but it's not all that much, really. And there are such aggravations and confusions that surround TBPR for so many webmasters, that I do question the sense of it all.


 6:42 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

What's the reason that TBPR isn't kept reasonably up to date anyway? If it's to prevent people 'reverse engineering' the algo, does that mean that PR is still an important ingredient in Google's secret sauce?


 7:02 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Criticisms and feedback noted!

And the idea of removing PR from the toolbar... this raises some interesting questions.

PageRank is an important signal and remains one of many effective measures of quality, but admittedly it's often viewed and used/abused in ways that run contrary to the interests of searchers and webmasters. Still, a lot of folks find the PR information useful; it provides a great incentive to try out our toolbar and explore its other features as well.

Given that many of you aren't so fond of PR info in the toolbar, I'd love to know what feature you [i]would[/b] like to see.

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

Tedster, thanks much for starting this thread. I look forward to reading everyones' ideas!


 7:45 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Would it be possible to just provide accurate data in the Toolbar again?

I've had the Google Toolbar installed since it first came out in 2000 December. Haven't uninstalled it since. I use it for other features as well. Having the TBPR visible helps me to make "initial" impressions when reviewing sites, etc.


 7:49 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks for dropping in Adam!

"PageRank is an important signal and remains one of many effective measures of quality"

Sorry I clipped a sentence out of context but I really don't understand how that statement can be true. I have a site that only garners a pr3 (webmaster tools also says it has low pr across the site) and yet this site consistently outperforms many pr5 sites in the serps. It's a straight up commercial site for a client. Does extremely well as a matter of fact. If it is a signal of quality it must be a very small part of the overall equasion.


 7:49 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

1. Amount of Spam Reports Submited agains this URI
2. Last Action Taken by Quality Team


 7:49 pm on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Any professional who thinks "see no evil" is better than seeing whatever bits of information we can is either trolling or not thinking very hard. The PR display is not great, but it's better than nothing.

Google intentially did evil by breaking the backlink command, which was extraordinarily helpful to webmasters, and displaying knowingly inaccurate data instead. Google has further done evil by displaying innacurate toolbar PR, but it is still a data point that is more often than not basically right. Getting rid of it entirely would benefit professional SEOs at the expense of amateurs, but it would hurt webmasters overall as it will lead to a lot of time being wasted analysizing not just our own sites but those of others.

If you don't like the toolbar display, disable it, then stop crying about it, and resolve yourself to the fate of knowing other people (gasp) get some value out of one of Google's lamer products.


The real question should be, what might make Google stop deliberately lying with their products?

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