It’s been quite a while since any of us last wrote a word about PageRank. The term has fallen into obscurity and there seems to be no need to use it as a selling point. But it wasn’t always like that. Ten years ago, the whole SEO industry revolved around this metric and the old PageRank toolbar. Almost nothing else mattered back then, and eCommerce SEO was all about making a website increase its PageRank score.
Today, PageRank has been relegated to oblivion while other metrics have taken absolute precedence.
Interestingly enough, PageRank is still alive and kicking, guiding Google in its task of measuring authoritativeness and worthiness. Then why don´t eCommerce SEOs ever mention it?
First, let’s find out what PageRank is.
What Is PageRank?
When Google was still in its embryonic stage, Larry Page and Sergey Brin were trying to develop a system that analyzed the relationships between websites in order to provide a more useful way of ranking pages.
This was against the then-common practice of ranking websites by the number of times a search term appeared on a page. They found that this generalized practice was giving the wrong incentives for website creators and brands. Search results were being flooded by landing pages stuffed up to the eyeballs with nonsensical gibberish, slowly rendering them useless from a user experience standpoint.
So Page and Brim came up with PageRank, a system that determined the relevance of a website based on the number of links pointing to it. Moreover, it also measured the relevance of pages linking to a website, giving the system an extra level of complexity.
Notice how this is precisely why eCommerce SEO experts still insist on link building when designing a campaign today. Relevant or authoritative sites, those with high PageRank scores, are able to “pass” some of that PageRank on to other pages by linking to them. This, in turn, is one of the reasons a website must focus on generating high-quality content, as it is by far the best way to earn valuable links in the long run.
Back in the early 2000s, when browser toolbars were ubiquitous, Google launched its own toolbar for Internet Explorer. The most important feature of this toolbar was its ability to measure a website’s PageRank almost in real-time, turning it into the only metric that mattered for marketers. You could literally see it go up as more pages linked to a website. Of course, this soon was exploited by black hat SEOs who built the infamous link farms and fishy private blog networks to pump millions of artificial links into shady websites.
Fortunately, Google stopped using the original PageRank algorithm and, in 2016, they retired their toolbar, making it impossible for people outside the Tech Giant to know a website’s score. However, PageRank is still an extremely important factor today.
So why is it that eCommerce SEO agencies never mention PageRank?
There are two possible reasons for that.
The first one is that PageRank is no longer as visible as it once was. Since Google hid it from the public, digital marketers could no longer use it as a selling point for new clients as they would not be able to see how SEO efforts affected it.
Secondly, the opaque nature of Google’s algorithm has muddled the conversation so much that SEO is now an esoteric term for many. Some terms, such as PageRank or user intent, are extremely abstract and difficult to explain, making it easier for eCommerce companies to focus on metrics they can objectively measure like PageSpeed or keyword volume.
However, Google has publicly stated they´re still using a version of PageRank, along with hundreds of other signals in ranking.
Can PageRank Be Measured Today?
Not directly. When measuring a page´s ability to rank in search results, professional eCommerce SEO agencies like Genius eCommerce must take into account factors such as Domain Authority, number and quality of backlinks, social signals, and content quality to have an approximate idea of a website’s Google PageRank. This is important when crafting SEO strategies for our clients. When measured as a whole, these factors tend to yield a solid reading of a website´s health and potential for ranking.
Search engine guru and Google’s Web Spam specialist Matt Cutts stated that links remain the best indicators for how relevant and important a person or brand is. Cutts mentions some caveats, though. There is a difference between popularity and reputation. Many websites are very popular without that meaning they have a good reputation. One example of these is porn sites. They receive massive traffic, but people refrain from linking to them. Reputation is related to what people like to link to, such as official or government websites. These sites might not receive as many visits, but they surely get a lot of links as people like to give their publications some weight by linking to official or recognized sources. Google interprets these links as votes of confidence people give to certain content.
How do eCommerce SEO Agencies Leverage the Power of PageRank?
When crafting a digital marketing campaign, SEO agencies must devise a content strategy that can position your website as an authority in your niche in the long run. This is not only done by writing professional meta titles and product descriptions. The best eCommerce SEO companies help produce content that is engaging and relevant enough to generate backlinks from authoritative websites and domains that effectively pass valuable PageRank to your pages.
Find out how to increase your website’s PageRank with professional and effective eCommerce SEO services. Start with an SEO audit and talk to one of our digital marketing experts today.