As more and more businesses understand the basics about marketing via search engines, it's no surprise that there is more discussion of Google PageRank. Unfortunately, most people continue to put way to much emphasis on the importance of PageRank.
In Beyond PageRank: Graduating to actionable metrics, Webmaster Trends Analyst, Susan Moskwa, suggests that PageRank isn't what we really want:
PageRank is just a stand-in for what we really want: for our websites to make more money, attract more readers, generate more leads, more newsletter sign-ups, etc. The focus on PageRank as a success metric only works if you assume that a higher PageRank results in better ranking, then assume that that will drive more traffic to your site, then assume that that will lead to more people doing-whatever-you-want-them-to-do on your site. On top of these assumptions, remember that we only update the PageRank displayed on the Google Toolbar a few times a year, and we may lower the PageRank displayed for some sites if we believe they’re engaging in spammy practices. So the PR you see publicly is different from the number our algorithm actually uses for ranking. Why bother with a number that’s at best three steps removed from your actual goal, when you could instead directly measure what you want to achieve? Finding metrics that are directly related to your business goals allows you to spend your time furthering those goals.
So if we're not going to be so concerned about PageRank, what should we measure? Susan suggests the following:
- Conversion rate
- Bounce rate
- Clickthrough rate (CTR)
In my own experience, I have seen client sites with very high PageRank that simply don't generate much in potential client inquiries due to very low conversion rates and clickthrough rates. On the other hand, we have clients that have launched new websites and have very low pagerank generating significant traffic and leads by working to increase conversion rate and clickthrough rates.
To me, Pagerank is something of which to be mindful, but not something that should be on your short list for measuring the health of your search engine optimization efforts.
If you are looking for nice-neat numbers to track, I would suggest looking at the SEOmoz toolbar. But I would also encourage you to pay particular attention to changes in relevant traffic to your site and conversion rates of visitors on your site (i.e. phone calls, web forms, downloads, emails through your site, etc).
(Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PageRanks-Example.svg)