Google finally kills off Toolbar PageRank

Those who are familiar with SEO might be sighing with relief at the news that, at long last, Google is getting rid of its Toolbar PageRank score. The much-hated tool, long considered a remnant of a bygone age of search engine marketing, is being completely removed from browsers over the next two weeks.

If you haven’t heard of PageRank, it’s probably a sign you’ve joined the world of search engine marketing fairly recently. There was a time when everything revolved around the tool, and it was the cause of many short-term tactics to boost page rankings that gave SEO a bad name.

It used to be the case that each webpage had a PageRank score, which ranged from one to ten and determined how important Google considered the page to be for ranking purposes. This in turn allowed dodgy SEO marketers to sell themselves on short-term tactics that had a huge impact on the way the internet worked.

This started back in 2000, when Google allowed PageRank data to be showed on certain toolbars. SEO marketers could then sell their services by promising to increase this score. This was often done by link-selling. One thing that boosted the PageRank score was the number of links to the page that existed around the internet. Marketers could offer these backlinks as a quick fix.

The problem was that PageRank was, and always has been, just one of many different ways Google determines how to rank a site. This means that the link-selling economy that developed was only ever going to be of limited use. But the fact that marketers could show their clients a numerical value going up was often enough, and the dodgy practice continued.

Luckily, SEO marketing has moved on considerably. But the Toolbar PageRank score still existed until just recently, and all traces of it will be purged from the internet in the next two weeks. So what does this mean for the SEO industry?

It looks like not much will change. The PageRank score will still exist – Google will continue to use it as a metric for how to rank pages – it just won’t be visible to users. The main thing this will do is slightly improve the SEO landscape, as anyone still depending on this score to show a quick boost in a website’s visibility will not be able to depend on this tactic.

However, with no updates since December 2013 it is fairly clear that Toolbar PageRank was already on the way out. For the most part, SEO businesses will be breathing a sigh of relief and saying “good riddance” to the tool responsible for some of the worst practices in the industry.

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