Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Google's Long Awaited Page Rank Toolbar Update

Google assigns a Page Rank to every web page on the web from a scale of 0-10 (with 10 being the highest). Most good law firm websites will typically have a Page Rank between 2 to 4 - with 4 being a Maginot line that very few law firm websites ever reach or cross. Many people involved with law firm search engine optimization commonly use Page Rankings as one of the key measurements of how websites stack up.

So Why Is Page Rank Important For Law Firms?

Page Rank is literally a grade that Google provides web pages based largely on the quantity and quality of the links each page receives. Notice how I said web pages and not websites – there is a difference. Since most people get the majority of their inbound links into the home page of their website so they naturally assume that this Page Rank (which is commonly the highest for the site) is for their entire website – which it is not. Even though the home page is the anchor of your website and links to your subpages, its Page Rank is only important in so far as the link value it is providing your subpages. If you find a website with high Page Ranking subpages, this is typically the result of a process called deep-linking whereby links go directly to the sub-pages of the website and not the homepage.

The Google Page Rank Tool Bar

So how can you track the Page Rank of your web pages? Simple: download the Google tool bar for your internet browser. When downloaded, you will see a green horizontal status bar that when you hover over it, it will display the Page Rank for that corresponding page. The problem with the Google Tool bar however is that even though Google will internally update these page ranks on a daily basis, the Google Tool bar will commonly get updated much less frequently.

The History of Google Toll Bar Updates

Looking at past updates to the Google tool bar, we can see that system-wide updates were commonly made around every 3 months (give or take). Here are the last reported updates:

  • April 2010
  • December 2009
  • October 2009
  • May 2009
  • December 2008
  • September 2008

Anybody see a problem here? Based on my calculations, Google is now 6 months overdue (9 months since their last update) in updating their tool bar! Since Page Rank as reflected in their tool bar are important measurements in determining such things as: link page-source value, inbound linking impacts on pages, authority of domains, etc. In short, Google’s recent lack of tool bar updates are not providing website owners with the critical measurements that they need to gauge their progress relative to other websites.

Why Google Has Not Been Keeping Up With Their Page Rank Tool Bar Updates

Why Google has been neglecting their updates to their own toolbar is anyone’s guess. Personally, it is my opinion that Google’s recent “summer of change” as well as increasing competition for social media giants like Facebook is causing Google to shift their priorities and ignore some of their core services. Google’s famous motto has always been to “do no evil” but they have left many to wonder with all the recent sweeping changes over the past year that the devil may be in the details. Why Google continues to “do no evil”, many of us are waiting for them to start updating their Page Rank toolbar so they can do the same for us. It might also help why they are at it to have live bodies to help provide support requests for their “paying” Google Places customers…but I devilishly digress.


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