If you run a website you have by now probably heard that Google changed the way they rank websites again. As happens every few months folks all over the web go crazy when their PageRank drops or celebrate like they’ve “made it” if it goes up a little.
Here’s the question I’ll ask you. Why bother looking at your PageRank at all?
Sure, a good PageRank is neat, but for nearly all websites out there that’s about it. It’s just neat. It isn’t a reflection of the quality of your content. It isn’t a reflection of the income potential of your website, it’s just, well, something neat to look at.
You see, unlike other metrics such as search traffic, key words, visits, trends, and countless others PageRank doesn’t really tell you anything at all. I can’t look at my PageRank and tell if I’m meeting my goal of making this site financially self-sufficient. Heck, my PageRank can’t even tell me why any given person went to my site in the first place. In essence, it simply doesn’t matter.
So what should a website owner be worried about?
There are 3 things that, no matter what your site’s content, you should worry about and 100’s of things that, depending on your site topic, audience, and goals would still be far more productive than PageRank (heck, even digging out an old copy of Netscape Navigator and testing your site on it or using your dog for a usability test of your site would be more valuable than PageRank).
1.) Are you meeting the goals you set for your site
What is your site for? Perhaps you just want to make a name for yourself as a blogger, perhaps you’re selling a product or service, or perhaps you would like to make a living off what you write. In either case the very first question you need to ask yourself when assessing your site is “is my site meeting the goals I set for it?” If the answer is yes then you’re doing good. If the answer is no then you will need to change something to do so.
The number of people any one of my sites get on a given day really doesn’t matter much in the big scheme of things. Sure it might be nice to see a spike and say you had 20,000 visitors on one day when normally you see 1,000 but it really doesn’t mean much. A better question to ask yourself is “did I see more traffic or less traffic this month compared to last month?” You see, the trend can tell you a lot. If your traffic is growing is means either your marketing has been very effective, people are talking about your site, or hopefully both. If your traffic is falling off you may want to ask yourself why? Did you stop posting? Did you change something that has offended your visitors? What changed (or if you didn’t update what did not change) that is causing your site to see fewer people? In either case the trend can tell you quite a bit about what is going on and whether you will be meeting your goals a few months out.
3.) Social Interactions
From comments on your blog to comments on social networks who is talking about your work? If you’re a blogger putting out high-quality content that gets noticed is probably one of your top goals and the feedback gained on both your site and social networks can be a gold mine. If your site however is a brand, a school, or something else the buzz about you can still help you determine if your “doing it right.” Regardless of who you are and what your site is about when people start talking about you, you know you’re doing something right and if no one is talking about you you’re probably missing something.
In the end too many folks are busy salting their work with keywords to get picked up by a search engine who’s PageRank algorithm will rank them between 0 and 10 and change it next month based on whatever new metric Google decides to include. While a higher rank might be neat it simply misses the big picture. None of it matters if you’re not meeting your own goals of if you’re driving people away or if simply no one cares enough to talk about your work. Put your energy into my 3 metrics and not only will you be happier for it, but in the end, with some high quality content and visitors, you might even see your PageRank climb a litte (if you’re even watching it anymore).