Hooray! Google is killing off the PageRank toolbar function.

If you’ve been using the Google toolbar extension to see PageRank, then you have most likely found that over the past few weeks you can no longer see any data.

Google Removing PageRank from its Toolbar - Browser Media
But hang on, could this actually be good news? Hopefully. Lots of SEOs are speculating that getting rid of the PageRank metric on the toolbar will put a stop to spammy emails and links in comment sections on blogs and in forums.

In short, when Google launched PageRank within its toolbar, everyone could see a numeric rating indicating how important Google considered any page to be. Whilst only one factor in the massive ranking algorithm, having a numeric measure meant that there was something tangible for people to work with. In many cases, often more importance was put on this single factor than any other when it came to creating or beefing up a ‘good’ page. So what happened? As per Google, links = credibility. So, in order to get better PageRank, get more links.

“Google had positioned links as votes cast by the “democratic nature of the web.” Link networks were the Super PACs of this election, where money could influence those votes.” – SearchEngineLand.com

Welcome the dawn of link networks, spam forum comments and annoying spam outreach emails. After realising that they had unwittingly opened Pandora’s box, Google tried to crack down on link networks, and on spammy links, with limited success (there’s still controversy around the purpose of NoFollow tags, and not just because of Google’s latest announcement about them).

Ironically, the PageRank toolbar started fading into obscurity years ago. Firefox dropped its Google toolbar support in 2011, and then Google took over a year to update PageRank data in IE – updating them last in 2013. Then when Google launched Chrome they didn’t even release a Chrome version of the toolbar. So what’s the fuss about? Pulling it from the Google toolbar makes its death official, AND removes the ability to collect PageRank scores automatically.

An end to link spam? I’m not sure. The only thing that Google has confirmed, however, is that whilst PageRank will no longer be public, they will continue to use it as as a signal within its ranking algorithm.