Last weekend, Google rolled out an update to its PageRank toolbar. For those that have downloaded Google’s Toolbar and installed it on your browser, it is the little green bar that appears next to Bookmarks on the Toolbar:
For a quick review, PageRank is a number that Google calculates for every webpage based on how well-connected the page is on the internet. It used to be one of the prime indicators of how well your site was doing with respect to linking value but these days its importance is diminished because other factors have been incorporated into the algorithm that appear to be offsetting its direct effect.
Google updates the PageRank toolbar two or three times a year. In fact, there was a major update last spring. However, what is not often understood is that even thought the toolbar only updates every 200 days or so, PageRank updates constantly. So, if the toolbar shows that your PageRank has dropped a point, it does not mean that it just happened. It could have happened back in May and you are just finding out about it now.
That said PageRank is not as good of an indicator of how a site’s pages will rank in search engine results pages as it used to be. It is a better reflection of the number of links rather than the precise keyword relevance of the link. If you have been focusing your linking efforts on getting links from pages that are highly relevant to your site rather than just overall numbers, your PageRank might go down while your rankings for your most relevant key phrases go up.
Even so, a drop in PageRank is an indicator that should not be ignored. However, it should be viewed as a signal to do some deeper research into your site and not that there is necessarily something wrong. Is there an accompanying ranking issue in Google’s search engine results? Has there been a big change in inbound link numbers? Is your conversion rate dropping while your bounce rate rises?
If there are other issues, then maybe the linking strategy you have adopted needs to be re-evaluated. Take a look at the number of inbound links you currently have by verifying yourself as the Webmaster of your site in Google’s Webmaster Tools and take a look at the number and type of inbound links you have. If all your inbound links are good quality relevant links from the best sources in your industry, consider concentrating on increasing the number of inbound links that you currently have by increasing the range of sites where links to your site appear. If you have many inbound links but they are primarily from low ranking sites, you should focus your efforts on getting more links from higher quality sites that would be considered “authorities” or “hubs” in the sector of the internet that your site is concerned with. Of course, if you do not have an inbound linking program in place, this would be a good time to implement one. Set aside some time every week to look for link building opportunities and proceed accordingly depending on your focus. Remember that building inbound links from dubious sources too quickly can affect rankings so if your site is very new and has very few inbound links, you might want to take it slow. If you have many inbound links, then try to add up to 20% more links each month. This will allow you to grow your inbound links and also to account for any links that become obsolete.