Last week at Mozcon, I was asked a question in the live QA. The question went a little like this:
“Can you tell me why some of my internal pages don’t have PageRank, even though they rank well in the search results?”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent years finding myself fascinated by detailed little questions like this. You could mess around with lots of different tools trying to find an answer, it may just be that Toolbar PageRank hasn’t updated yet, or something else. It’s just that none of that effort would be wisely spent, and when I said “I don’t give a **** about that question”, I decided to embark on a little rant of my own.
I don’t care much for PageRank
I’d love to see whoever asked (and I’m sorry, it is an interesting question, in a way) that question to use that energy do do a whole load of other interesting marketing and technical things:
What are your users doing on those pages? Are you surveying your users, are you a/b split testing to find winning variations, are you using beautiful design and perfecting your user interface? Are you making your pages responsive? How well is your analytics configuration performing in relation to your business KPI’s? Are you click tracking, using video on your pages, using unique, and high quality images? How about schema markup, and improving your page load times, improving your marketing message, adding UGC elements, pulling in useful data from different APIs, truly understanding what makes your pages useful so that users might share, like, tweet, Google plus. Do you have a strong call to action, are you collecting email addresses, attracting Facebook fans, Twitter followers? Are you using event tracking? Are you setting useful data points into custom variables, thinking about the role each of those pages play in the funnel? Are you optimizing your titles for organic CTR, getting rich snippets, video snippets, ratings…
The list is quite long and I’m sure I missed a few points.
I just hope I didn’t cause offence with the abruptness of my answer!
PageRank is useful for one thing, and that’s possibly, *possibly* being able to identify a penalty, faked PageRank (when combining a few other metrics together), or simply that you’ve been hitting the PageRank servers too hard. When there’s a problem, you tend to see “-1” values or some kind of change. I recall Dave Naylor saying he uses Sistrix to track PageRank history over time (useful if you know there was a big drop – that could indicate something’s awry) but otherwise I don’t think the data’s terribly useful unless you’re working on link removal.
Image credit: Sean T Evans