Google have just removed the PageRank data from Webmaster Tools. It makes sense to do that because the reported PageRank data doesn’t matter anyway. But they keep the public toolbar PageRank despite the fact that many more users see this. Confused?
You can see some screen shots on SEO Roundtables post on the findings.
I think it is a good idea that Google have removed PageRank data from the Webmaster Tools. For a long time both search engines and SEOs have told webmasters not to get obsessed with that factor anyway. It just did not make sense to keep it.
But then why do Google keep the PageRank data in the Toolbar when PageRank is clearly not a very good quality benchmark?
I believe it is due to the fact that Google have invested heavily over the years in the brand PageRank. PageRank is a brand more than a technology today.
For over 10 years Google have been telling the public that PageRank is equal to Googles secret formula for how to rate all information. From a branding point of view they have put much more into the PageRank basket than what is technically correct.
From a technical point of view it doesn’t make sense to report the PageRank data to webmasters – but from a branding point of view Google can’t live without it.
If Google dropped PageRank in the toolbar now and stopped using the brand in public communication they would need some other simple way of explaining what it is that they do so much better than everybody else (if their mind off course).
And why give up a really good and strong brand? Well, off course there is that little thing about the fact that PageRank is actually not really what the public think it is, but hey that’s just a minor detail, right?
PageRank does it job in the public toolbar. Its not very accurate, to say the least. But who cares?
Well, our clients do – because their clients – the general public – look at that toolbar and to some degree trust the green bar. As long as people do that PageRank will be important! As long as our SEO clients feel that their clients judge them partly on PageRank they do want to use that as a benchmark.
Should Google totally discount PageRank and also remove it in the toolbar?
Long term that would probably be the best and least confusing for all but I do understand the problems Google would have to deal with if they do. It’s not an easy decision but one that I feel Google will have to make at some point. The current solution – with toolbar PageRank visible but no Webmaster Tools PageRank is not good. It’s confusing; it sends mixed signals; and it makes Google look less trustworthy.