Almost any search I check shows me that PR is still a factor. I doubt that Google would have caused such a flap about paid links if it wasn't. And toolbar PR sometimes helps to get a quick idea of how a particular SERP stacks up for a keyword, or for a fast site: report.
But I always remember these drawbacks, and take in PR data with some significant reservations:
1. Visible PR on the toolbar can be penalized or demoted with no apparent effect on rankings
2. Toolbar PR can also be buggy
3. Toolbar PR is a historical snapshot, not an up-to-date report of the reality affecting rankings right now.
[edited by: tedster at 5:30 pm (utc) on Jan. 12, 2008]
- Toolbar PR doesn't tell you anything about the diversity of the backlinks.
- Toolbar PR doesn't tell you anything about the quantity of backlinks
Both of those metrics are important for determining the quality of a link. A PR 5 site with one ROS backlink from a blog owned by the same webmaster hosted on the same server, which in turn has backlinks from a single link on a PR 6 page, is not as important as a site with thousands of relevant backlinks, including hundreds of deep citations.
I saw a directory with a PR 5 that was interlinked with at least a dozen other sister directories, and the entire PR flow came from the owner's web design company, which derived most of its juice from a PR 6 link from a client site. Not all the values expressed on the toolbar are accurate.
I saw a website with thousands of backlinks that was PR 3 or 4. That was a better profile than any of the above two. The toolbar isn't focused on the true metrics that matter.
Ted mentioned the bugginess of it, which really throws a light on how shaky it is to use the toolbar to make important business decisions. It's an amusing tool, but it's not a true metric for making important business decisions.
Lately, we saw Google penalizing sites selling Dofollow text links by causing a drop in the visible PR on the toolbar.
As such its still useful, I may say.
>>>As such its still useful, I may say.
If the drop in PR is not accompanied by a drop in rankings, as some of these Toolbar penalizations have been, then it may not be a penalization- just a drop in toolbar PR. That is not a penalization if the rankings are unchanged. The toolbar is not very useful there.
In any case, one doesn't need a toolbar to judge if a site might not be passing PR or is in a risk zone. A little common sense goes a long way.
For a long time Google has been penalizing sites by blocking sites from passing PR. But that was not reflected in the Toolbar. The toolbar failed webmasters who depended on it to make decisions about where they were going to allocate their money. That money was wasted.
It is was it is, "Visible" toolbar PR, what goes on behind the scenes might be totally different.
Whenever I can conlude an update as complete, the TBPR combined with the GWT link reports give a fair idea on how Google sees the page hierarchy of a site: whether it recognizes the intended weight of specific pages and whether the navigation/funnels are clear enough.
Not that TBPR had a single non-buggy updtade last year.
TBPR is useful when comparing it to a given set of search results. As an example, when I see a PR3 site in position 3 in the serps and a PR7 site in position 4 it usually means I can compete for that search term.
|If the drop in PR is not accompanied by a drop in rankings, as some of these Toolbar penalizations have been, then it may not be a penalization- just a drop in toolbar PR. That is not a penalization if the rankings are unchanged. The toolbar is not very useful there. |
Some of the popular bloggers who are/were engaged in selling text links and have noticed a drop in their TBPR, have also reported lost in Google's traffic.
Toolbar PR is a historical snapshot, not an up-to-date report of the reality affecting rankings right now.
But no older than 3 months its worth pointing out.
The toolbar may update roughly every three months, but even when it updates the data snapshot is already historical - some people in this thread feel that the current snapshot goes back to Nov/Dec. The Oct 2007 update came after something like 17 or 18 weeks, so right before that update the toolbar snapshot was pushing 5 to 6 months in age.
Well reason I say 3 months, is that I launched a brand new site in early October and it just picked up toolbar PR this update. Just working on logic as the domain wasn't even parked before.
Yes, yes, of course there are some who have the drop in toolbar PR and ranking too. No denying that. I agree with you 100%. But there are many other occurrences where the toolbar does not reflect a change. For instance, the past couple of years paid links from certain networks have been ineffective. That data didn't show up in the toolbar, and as a consequence it hasn't been discussed much on the boards. Obviously, removing PR while leaving the toolbar intact backfired. The link selling business grew. So now it's on to Plan B with shots across the bow and stirring the waves, but that's a topic for another discussion I guess.
The old days are gone. The toolbar turning white or gray is not a reliable indicator of anything anymore. The lack of Toolbar reliability doesn't stop at those two scenarios. There are also others who experience a drop in ranking while their toolbar PR stays the same. The point I'm trying to make is that there is at best a tenuous connection between the toolbar PR with what is really going on inside the black box. There are so many times when the toolbar does not reflect a banning or penalty, that on the occasion when it actually reflects a change in traffic it's almost a case of the stopped clock telling the correct time twice a day. If the toolbar doesn't consistently present accurate data, then it is by definition unreliable and undependable.
Those who depend on the toolbar PR to decide where to link, how much to pay or how much to charge are not seeing the big picture.
I wish PR would go away to end the debate and confusion. But I suppose that is why toolbar PR is still visible.
Get links based on relevancy and total (natural) backlinks and you will do well.
Unreliable and undependable is not the same as useless.
It may be like a flickering lightbulb, but it's errors are generally one way. In other words, grey or white bar pages are more likely to have a problem than a robust bunch of PR5 pixels. There is a tendency in this business, and this forum, to want everything all or nothing, working or not, alive or dead. That isn't the case with the toolbar. It's unreliable, but grey or white usually do mean an issue with a page (including simply "new"). It's like a political poll, it's not gospel, but it's more often right than wrong.
In discussions like these it is often worth going back to Google to see what they say.
|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.
Google appears to be telling us that it does matter. Unfortunately that seems to be all they say about it. They do not go into any detail.
That TBPR can translate into the difference between having 6 or 60 pages indexed for a site, and that's a reality that's far from insignificant. That has nothing to do with buying or selling links, but I'd sure say that it's evident that it still matters for a site's value and/or survival.
There's definitely something that's been going on with how PR is being distributed and channeled throughout sites, and the TBPR seems to co-incide with the internal linking and with looking at pages indexed using site:
PR isn't what it used to be, but it still matters.
|It may be like a flickering lightbulb, but it's errors are generally one way. In other words, grey or white bar pages are more likely to have a problem than a robust bunch of PR5 pixels. There is a tendency in this business, and this forum, to want everything all or nothing, working or not, alive or dead. That isn't the case with the toolbar. It's unreliable, but grey or white usually do mean an issue with a page (including simply "new"). It's like a political poll, it's not gospel, but it's more often right than wrong. |
One of the strongest pages in our site had a toolbar PR6, until this update - and now it shows 0.
The page still ranks #1 for a whole host of aggressive phrases, and so the PR shown in the toolbar is useless for that page - is it not?
I think PR is unreliable and some what over rated and i dont put much stock into it anymore. i have many pages ranked top or very least listed on the 1st page with 0 according to the toolbar.
i see it as a very rough guide
Majority of the users want/need/desire a tool that can "inform" them in one second. And many will base their decisions to PR, so it will matter.
Without PageRank, that tool would be Alexa, without Alexa that tool would be something else... So will G ever drop PR? I do not think so, then that important tool would no longer be in their control.
One proposed idea I kinda liked was to re-scale PageRank from 0-10 to 0-3. Then it really would be more like a guideline, and not something that is "interpreted numerically".
Can anyone see a scheme behind the distribution of the PR from the main-page to the sub-pages? I have a main-page PR5 and subpages varying from PR0 to PR4, even "PR grey" is appearing. For me, it seems just to be random, althought it seems that pages with outgoing links are more often affected then pages with no external links - but I was not able to make a rule out of it.
As long as I am ranking for the important search arguements I don't even think about PR. No doubt there is scope for tweaking the site by paying some attention to it but with the hit rate holding up there are more profitable uses for my time.
"so the PR shown in the toolbar is useless for that page"
If you are an ostrich I guess. If you are a websmater trying to make money it's probably very useful.
I watch the visible toolbar to give me an idea of how distributed strength might be from that page.
The stronger the page, the higher the page's results, which can be superceded with other factors. But if PR is all you have with content then i think it does matter.
Sometimes, I've concluded that it has assisted the influence of keyword terms in the overall mix of obtaining higher rankings - but it would not be the dominant factor, just complimentary IMO .
So overall, to some degree, I'd say it's important.
|"so the PR shown in the toolbar is useless for that page" |
If you are an ostrich I guess. If you are a websmater trying to make money it's probably very useful.
If the page is ranking at the number 1 spot, can you please explain to me why the little green bar (or lack of one) is important to me? I make money by attracting visitors to the site and converting them into customers. They don't care about the little green bar, and neither does my accountant.
You post in another thread about a #6 penalty on some pages. Please explain how you can be absolutely certain the two things are unrelated?
Coming in late on this thread but I'd like to comment on MB post:
|The old days are gone. The toolbar turning white or gray is not a reliable indicator of anything anymore. |
We got our main site 'hit' by getting more than half the pages grey barred - they were PR5 before. I did a search for a "string of text" from a couple of those pages and they do not show up in G. But they do show up when I do a site:mydomain.com search.
I also logged into G webmaster's tools / sitemap and those greybarred pages are not showing in the 'internal pages with links' section.
I did a spider crawl test and they're all showing up there.
So my guess is that 'grey bar' still means problem.
The other pages that haven't got grey barred still rank where they use to and I haven't noticed and dip in traffic coming from G on those pages.
I am not sure where the problem might be coming from though, I certainly don't sell links and some pages that got greybarred didn't even have external links on them (and never had).
We will have to wait and see - and get more inbound links to these pages :)
That's one of the ways supplementals respond. So again a grey bar definitely does not mean a page is supplmental (new ones especially), but it is often a sign that a page is supplmental, and thus won't rank for anything, and thus if you want it to you normally should do something about it.
|So my guess is that 'grey bar' still means problem. |
I'm going to clarify my point, because there seems to be some confusion:
>>>The toolbar turning white or gray is not a reliable indicator of anything anymore.
In some circumstances it means something. I never said the opposite.
However, in many other instances, it's simply a toolbar glitch. I know of an important site that had gray bars all over it. I checked with Google and was told the PR was flowing fine according to internal data. Within a week it was showing green, after having been gray for ages. The toolbar had been malfunctioning. In this scenario it would have been wise to use more reliable metrics to ascertain the value of the site. Some would have used the toolbar and written it off because of the gray bar, even though it belongs to an important institution. This is one of many scenarios that makes me caution against relying exclusively on the toolbar to make snap judgements about a site without taking a look at underlying real-world metrics.
There are other circumstances where a site gets hit but the toolbar doesn't reflect a change. This is what I mean when I say it is not reliable.