Future of pagerank

I can see the point of Google giving us access to the PageRank information way back when it first became public. But following the April 3rd update, Google has gone longer than ever before without a major update. Yes, little ‘tweaks’ have been revealed as a few sites get ‘corrected’, but no major world wide update.

And that update is perhaps a task that is very resource intensive. If Google are no longer using the information, then there really is no need for a complete refresh. In the past although, perhaps there was.

What was the reason previously for sharing this data? After all, Google is dead against people selling links based on PageRank, so why reveal the core of the algorithm?

Is Google data gathering?
Well data gathering was probably the key. The toolbar tells Google what page you are looking at and they send back the PR. Google therefore knows what pages you are viewing, how a lot of pages of a site you view and if you bounced etc.

Look at how often PageRank updates came about up to November 2005. 2, 3 or even 4 updates per month. Then suddenly monthly. What happened in November 2005?

Well Google bought Urchin on Demand earlier in the year and released it’s own version in November – Google Analytics. Demand was huge and they had to limit new signups, until August 2006 when it was again opened to everyone (and about the time that PR updates became quarterly).

Analytics is unquestionably very popular
With nigh on half the 1,000,000 top ranked Alexa sites using Google Analytics, it has got a huge amount of coverage. In fact of the 10,000 highest ranking websites it is thought that 57% use Analytics.

So now Google has another way into our website’s visitors data. One that gives it complete coverage of everything that users are doing. It knows what websites traffic actually browse through fully and which they leave straight away and this is highly valuable information. Rather than looking at how plenty of web-sites link to your site, it could judge you by how traffic behave on your site.

Does PageRank have a future?
I think that PageRank is just there for as long as Google needs a backup plan in place. But possibly they are about to finally ditch the backup and that is why we have not seen an update in a while.

So don’t be too startled, or worried, when all of your web sites suddenly lose all of their PageRank. At least then we might have people worrying round visitors, and not a few little green bar.