Throughout modern Internet history, one of the biggest forces in online marketing has been Google Page Rank. This system has been in place since Google’s takeover as the world’s search engine leader, and has been the primary algorithm that the company used to sort search results. With the advent of new algorithms such as Panda, Penguin, and now Hummingbird, many people are wondering if Page Rank is now a thing of the past.
The Importance of Page Rank
Google Page Rank is an algorithm that measures a website’s relative importance to search users. The operating theory behind the original algorithm was that the most important websites are the ones that have the most external links leading to them. Thus, major traffic sites such as Wikipedia, the IMDB, and the BBC tended to rank higher than other sites on the Internet. As the algorithm continued to be refined, the context of the links became increasingly important. Rather than just assume that a link was automatically a sort of vote for the site’s importance, the system evaluated the quality of different links. This helped prevent businesses from boosting their own ranking by using dummy websites.
So What Happened?
There is still some debate as to whether Google Page Rank is officially dead or if it has just changed. One thing that is certain is that other algorithms such as Panda, Penguin, and now Hummingbird have all become a major point of focus for the search engine. Panda seeks to judge websites via a specific quality standard, placing higher emphasis on organic quality and seeking to limit sites that rely too much on keyword placement. Penguin expanded Panda’s focus on quality by targeting spam links that exist just to drive up the traffic of certain sites. Now Hummingbird has been introduced to focus on conversational searches that allow Google to judge a search query by context and not just keywords.
Is the Algorithm Dead?
Is Google Page Rank dead? That’s something that a lot of marketers would like to know, especially since the algorithm has been such an important part of Internet marketing for so many years. What is known is that where Page Rank was once a feature in the Google toolbar, it hasn’t received an update for many months. For Firefox users, support for the toolbar as a whole dropped entirely in the summer of 2011. Internet Explorer users can still see the rankings for different pages, but those rankings haven’t been updated since February 2013. That doesn’t mean for sure the algorithm is dead, though. Google has stated it won’t be going away, and the newest addition, Hummingbird uses it extensively.
What is Hummingbird?
Google chose the name Hummingbird for its new algorithm because they claim it is precise and fast. Hummingbird is effectively a rewrite of the Google search algorithms that focuses on conversational results. For example, if you type in “Where can I find a good coffee shop in Chicago,” the new algorithm will look for an answer to that question rather than use every word in your search as a keyword. While Hummingbird is effectively an entirely new engine for Google, it also contains many elements of Google Page Rank. For this reason, when Google says the old algorithm isn’t going away, they might be referring to the new service rather than implying that they are truly keeping the older system around.
How Does This Affect You?
So what does this mean for your business? The advent of Hummingbird and other search engine tools means that Google no longer caters to keywords, so organic content is a must. At the same time, the fact that Hummingbird contains so many elements of Google Page Rank implies that keywords have not entirely vanished just yet. Your best bet is to make sure that whatever content you post is focused, and targeted specifically at solving a problem that people want to resolve. That way, you are more likely to come up in conversational search results, and will have a higher quality ranking with algorithms like Hummingbird and Panda.
Because Google is being so secretive about their latest changes, it’s hard to determine for sure whether Google Page Rank is dead or just absorbed into other services. One thing is sure, however, and that is the fact that you need to have quality content if you want to keep your web traffic up.