Google’s May Day renders PageRank impotent

Google PageRank

WASHINGTON, DC – SEO buzz seems to indicate that Google’s May Day algorithm change has negatively affected many websites that were gaming the system.

Well, if you were to poll about 100 search engine optimization (SEO) professionals at their next convention, most of them would have said (or continue to say) that inbound links, or backlinks, are the number one most important thing to getting found on Google.  Moreover, those inbound links determine a site’s PageRank, or Google PR, which is an indicator of how relevant or significant a website is across the universe.

In my recent blog post on SEO Quotient, I presented some data that might indicate that just because you have a high SEO analysis score, which includes a strong PageRank and significant inbound links, that doesn’t mean you are going to rank well on Google – at least for now.

Case in point: WebsiteGrader vs. SEOmoz.

WebsiteGrader is a PR6 site with 704 inbound links (backlinks) according to Google and 34,921 inlinks according to Yahoo.

SEOmoz, on the other hand, is a PR8 site with 1,710 inbound links according to Google and a whopping 207,596 inlinks according to Yahoo.

But, if you look at Alexa, both sites are about neck and neck with Websitegrader (2,049) only slightly trailing SEOmoz (1,703).  According to Compete, Websitegrader (PR6) smashes SEOmoz (PR8) with an estimated visitor count of 494,00 monthly visits to SEOmoz estimated 173,000 monthly visits.

But the real evidence is in the actual search results.  Both websites, Websitegrader.com and SEOmoz.org represent “SEO analysis tools” that provide “free SEO reports” and “website analysis“.  So, when you Google these search terms, you’ll see:

Websitegrader (PR6) ranks first page for:

  • SEO analysis tool
  • Website analysis tool
  • Website SEO tool
  • Free SEO report

SEOmoz (PR8) only ranks first page for:

  • SEO tools

So, how can a website in the same industry, optimized for the same keyword phrases, with a PR8, 1,710 inbound links according to Google and 207,596 inbound links according to Yahoo underperform a site with a fraction of the credibility?

Obviously, there are other factors at play.

One interesting note is that Websitegrader has 38,696 Twitter followers to SEOmoz 15,542.  Moreover, Websitegrader has 15,542 Facebook fans (likes) compared to SEOmoz 3,023.  Perhaps Google is paying more attention to social media than previous indicators like inbound links.

Food for thought.