Is Page Rank Still A Ranking Factor?
I’m often asked by clients whether Google PageRank is important and, whilst I always advocate looking to improve the PageRank of a website, I go to some length to remind the client that they should also include clear navigation, unique ‘good quality’ content and inbound links from relevant, authoritative sites utilising keyword-rich link text. The following is an article from Web CEO relating to whether PageRank is still a significant ranking factor that I felt could be informative for those interested in improving their repective PageRank.
Three years ago we tested if Google PageRank was correlating with the page’s position and pages with high Google PageRank were ranked higher on Google SERPs. The result was more than convincing: for any given keyword – be it popular or not – the average PageRank of the top 10 pages was always greater than the average PageRank of the next 11-20 pages, and so on. We didn’t find much exception from that rule. This time we’ve tried to remake the test and check if PageRank is an important ranking factor.
We assume that, in principle, the lower a page is in search results, the lower toolbar PageRank number it has – at least this rule remains as a general trend. So, we’ve requested results for some very popular and unpopular key phrases and checked the average PageRank of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th ’10-position’ results pages.
In detail: with the help of the Google Adwords Keyword tool, we have carefully selected 450 keywords (the 250 most competitive and the 200 least competitive) belonging to a few popular topics – real estate, vacation rentals, job search, and cooking recipes. We queried Google for these keywords and got 2250 webpages, retrieved PR for each webpage on the top five results pages, and then found an average PR for each of the five SERPs.
The results prove that the general trend remains only for large amounts of keywords, i.e. the PageRank simple average of 50-60 words gradually decreases from 1st to 2nd, from 2nd to 3rd and so on up to 5th page. However, on the single key phrase level, among all the keywords (popular and unpopular alike), only 22 key phrases out of 450 have an uninterrupted decreasing trend.
What does it mean? Google guys and girls were right, high PR is not all you need for your site’s success in terms of link popularity, and on-the-page factors now matter more than three years ago. PageRank is still a ranking factor, but its role is not as significant as many webmasters think. High PageRank is good proof that you have an established site, but is a doubtful traffic driver.