There is too much focus in the SEO community on the PageRank meter. This entry attempts to clarify some myths and misconceptions regarding the Google Tool Bar PageRank meter.
We know PageRank is important. PageRank, also known as linkjuice, is a metric of the weight of a page's backlinks or inbound linkage. A page that is accumluating links from across the web due to word of mouth, buzz in the blogosphere, good press coverage, paid text link ads, or even good (undetected) spam - is building up it's Page Rank value. And higher PR is good. It encourages Googlebot to come visit more often and index more pages. If our Page Rank is increasing, it usually means we are doing well.
Here's the problem - Google does not release this value outside of the Googleplex. What Google does provide us - the non-Google engineers, is a metric known as Tool Bar Page Rank.
What is the Tool Bar Page Rank showing us? TBPR reflects what a page's PR was at a certain unknown point within the past 90 days or so - rounded to an integer. It's value is vague and often irrelevant. It varies across data centers. It's far from "real time". Pages that are dripping wet with PR can display low TBPR values, or a value of 0 - until Google decides to update the green bar. Focusing too much on the TBPR is a bad habit.
At best, it provides us with a few basic indicators about a page. It will tell us if a page/site has been banned, by changing colors to grey. It will tell us if a page is indexed, by showing some green.
There are a few tips I'd like to share, that will help you evaluate a site or a page, without relying on the little green bar.
Stay tuned for part II