Since we’re in the middle of another PageRank update and that’s usually cause for excitement and concern I thought I’d spend another day on the subject. First with some information about a new tool from SEOmoz called Page Strength which is an attempt to give a quick and easy metric to determine the relative worth of a web page and then with a few observations and thoughts about the PR update itself.
Page Strength Tool
Lately there’s been a wealth of new seo tools being created. (Link Bait anyone?) The Page Strength tool looks to be another good one. It’s meant to be used as a quick way to access the relative link popularity of a given web page and be a sort of alternative to PageRank. Toolbar PR has lost it’s credibility for most in the seo world for a variety of reasons and the new Page Strength rating does look like it can offer a good alternative.
The tool uses a variety of criteria to calculate an overall strength including domain age, number of backlinks to the page and the domain, and social bookmark information from del.icio.us. The factors it measures in order to make the calculation are useful in themselves and though they can all be found through other means it’s nice to see them all in one place. Being able to compare all the factors may actually be the ultimate value of the page strength tool.
The Page Strength tool is pretty fast and from the sites I’ve tested seems reasonably accurate. Interior pages on a more popular domain will probably have more page strength than they will page rank and less popular domains may find their page strength less than their page rank, but the two seem fairly in line. Page strength isn’t meant to be compared to page rank, however, and the real use is in comparing the relative page strengths of given web pages. The indication though is that the tool does just what it was created to do and gives a good quick metric for the relative popularity of a web page.
A nice feature of the tool is the ability to add it as a button on your browser, so checking the strength of any page you come across while surfing requires a single click of that button. Adding the button is pretty simple too as it simply involves dragging a link to your browser toolbar or right clicking the link and choosing to bookmark it. I would have preferred if the tool open the results in a new tab instead of in the same tab, but it’s easy enough to hit the back button to get back to the original page.
Page Rank Observations
It’s only been a few days since the update began, but a few things have come to the surface. From my own observations and the observations of others I’ve come across it seems the update is increasing page rank for sites that didn’t have a prior rank and in most cases giving them a little too much. Several banned sites have also seen their page rank improve dramatically while still having no indexed pages at Google.
One of my clients sites has gone from a PR0 to a PR4 though I know the client has done absolutely no link building for his site. He currently has two links pointing to his pages, one of which is from this site. Doesn’t seem likely to me the PR4 will remain, especially as this site currently has a PR4 across most pages and given I show quite a few more backlinks than he does it’s hard to believe Google would see the two sites having the same PR.
More established sites haven’t seemed to notice any change and while many may not see a change in the toolbar PR this time around more than likely some of them will. Of course it is just toolbar page rank and the changes really won’t have any affect on where web pages rank in the search results given the de-emphasis on page rank in general over the last couple of years and the meaningless value of page rank in the toolbar.
Myself and others have also noticed a reduction of backlinks Google is showing for our sites. While Google only shows a sample of backlinks and isn’t the place to be checking for how many you might have, it does seem unlikely that there would be less links showing after 3 months of acquiring new ones. Even given that some links are temporary in nature and probably no longer exist the overall count is still more likely to increase.
My guess is the update is an iterative process that favors lower PR sites in the beginning and will take a week or two before everything is sorted out. Once it does settle I assume some of those sites that have been given a large PR upgrade will drop somewhat and older established sites will gain a little bit of rank. I would also expect to see the backlink count increase, at least for those sites that have gained more natural backlinks. Sites that have been going after artificial links through autmated link exchange programs or with a high percentage of reciprocal links probably will see a reduction in the number of backlinks displayed..
Of course only Google knows for certain what will happen when the dust settles on the update, if they even know themselves. Regardless of how things go with the toolbar PR update we now have another tool in page strength which we can use to compare the relative worth of web pages.