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Lost Toolbar PageRank

May 14, 2008

Hi Jill,

A few newsletters back you put your email address for questions that your readers might have. I'm not sure if you are still answering questions via email, but I thought I would try again.

The front page of my website has a [toolbar] PageRank of 4 and most of my inner pages had a PageRank of 3. After this quarter's Google [toolbar] update, my homepage remained a 4, but most of my inner pages went down to a 2.

We have been adding new content regularly, and even got into DMOZ this past quarter.

Any guidance on why the PageRank of my inner pages would drop? Do you think that this will have a big impact on my website?



++Jill's Response++

Hi Jane,

I'm always open to SEO questions! The best way to get your questions answered is to fill out the newsletter question form.

In answer to your question, there are a few things you should understand about Google's toolbar PageRank. While it can sometimes be helpful in determining whether there are indexing problems with your website, for the most part it's not an accurate representation of real PageRank (the kind only Google knows about). The toolbar PR graph is updated only a few times a year, so you're generally viewing old, inaccurate data.

Therefore, the short answer to your question is: Unless your traffic and conversions are down, simply ignore what you see on the toolbar (or uninstall it altogether).

If along with the lowering of toolbar PR you find a loss of traffic and/or conversions, you should delve further into the causes. For example, links pointing to your site that used to provide PageRank might no longer provide the same "link juice" because the "nofollow attribute" was added to them, or because they were discovered (by Google) to be paid-for links as opposed to actual votes for your website.

If that has happened, it means that you most likely need some REAL links to your site – that is, the kind that happen because people actually like it and find it useful. If you have trouble getting and maintaining those types of links, you probably want to re-evaluate your website and your business model to find out why your site isn't actually link-worthy, and think of some things you can add to provide extra value to your website visitors.

Because your site recently got listed in DMOZ and you're also adding new content on a regular basis, my guess is that your problem is not a poor site, but simply a toolbar glitch that you don't need to worry about.

We showcased a forum thread on this topic back in February, which you may want to check out if you haven't already:


PageRank Means Nothing!