Unless you’ve been living on Mars, or even more unlikely, you just haven’t been near a computer for the past week, you can’t have failed to notice there’s been another PageRank update. Of course with any PageRank update comes a plethora of blog posts on the subject. Most SEO’s would agree the PageRank is not overly relevant to what we do and for the most part we’ll use a selection of other metrics to judge a website rather than just taking the PageRank and the definitive metric.
In the olden days we could count on Google to update the PageRank around four times a year but for the past year or so now Google hasn’t seemed as keen with this latest June update being just the second of this year. This alone almost proves that even Google is down playing the important of PageRank.
Let’s start at the beginning, what is PageRank?
PageRank is effectively Google giving your site a score out of ten. Google claims they use over 200 different factors in determining PageRank and as with all things Google when it comes to specifics; they keep those factors pretty close to their chest. It’s also worth pointing out that the actual PageRank and the Toolbar PageRank are two different metrics. PageRank does not equal popularity and it does not have a direct effect on rankings.
So why update the PageRank?
Google have made a few drastic changes to their algorithm over the last couple of months with the most notable being the panda update. Google makes hundreds of small tweaks to it’s algorithm over the course of the year and for the most part they’ll go largely unnoticed. Due to the fact the panda update received so much attention it stands to reason they’d update the PageRank to coincide with updates and amends websites have made as a result of this latest round of updates.
The main focus of the panda update was to weed out some of the less useful content floating around the web and sites with duplicate content, or content available from other sources around the web found themselves heavily hit by this update. Sites like article depositaries and review sites saw a lot of their positions drop overnight.
Another thing that’s always been a big no no in Google’s eyes is buying and selling links. Although this can be technically hard to prove if you have a site with a collection of links placed off to the side of a page and one link is for ice cream, the next is for IT solutions and then you’ve got a couple of Viagra links and one for prescription drugs they’re going to look paid for and dodgy whether they were or not.
Why has your PageRank dropped?
If you’re PageRank has dropped by one or two this doesn’t mean you’ve got to panic (which I appreciate is easier said than done if you’ve just gone from a PR 5 to a PR2 overnight). Unless you’ve done something dramatically dodgy the chances are you’re not going to suddenly start seeing all your positions plummet.
The most logical reason for a drop in PR is because the sites that are linking to you have seen a drop in their PR so they’re not passing as much link juice through to you any more. Look back over your linking campaign; have you been participating in paid linking of any kind? Do you use paid review sites? Do you still do article spinning or article marketing of any kind? Do any of your previously most powerful sites that were linking to you use these methods?
Unfortunately dropped page rank is not like receiving a penalty from Google, you can’t post a submission request asking Google to re-evaluate your PageRank, you simply have to wait for the next update. That gives you plenty of time to work on your site. If you have just been plodding along with the same SEO tactics you’ve been using for years now would be a really good time to evaluate these methods, what worked five years ago or even one year ago isn’t necessarily going to produce the same results today.
Go back to basics; look at your site as if it were a brand new project. Fix all the things you’ve been ignoring on your to do list and be really critical of those niggly little things you think probably wont make that much difference. Once you’re sure you’ve got the on site as spot on as possible start evaluating your link building tactics. If you’ve been taking short cuts and indulging in paid linking now is the time to stop. Take the time and put the effort in; go out and find those good quality website that are reputable in Google’s eyes and figure out a way to get a link from them. Offer them a guest post for their blog, run a sensible survey and offer them the results, send them one of your products or a sample of your services and ask them to review them. Look at doing some online PR or think of a really good competition or special offer, come up with a gimmick that no one else in your industry is doing to generate some natural links. You won’t get something for nothing, if you want those links you have to have something credible to offer in return.
If you concentrate on genuinely good SEO you’ll not only see your PageRank increase in the next update but in the mean time you’ll see better positions and more traffic too.