People like to measure and compare things. Metrics affect decisions, like whether someone will buy an ad on your site.
Websites are measured in numerous ways. They’re given an “overall score” with PageRank; Feedburner counts the number of people who subscribe to their RSS feeds; and advertisers are forever obsessed with monthly pageviews.
Google’s PageRank is used by many to compare websites, though the fairness of the value is questionable. PageRank basically boils down to Links In – Links Out = PageRank. So if you have a lot of people linking to you, then you have a higher PageRank. Hording links, and by extension PageRank won’t get you anywhere either, as you have to link to get linked to.
Lately, Google has been penalizing sites (by lowering their PageRank) for numerous reasons, many of which are unknown.Â So basically, Google controls what others (especially advertisers) think of your website. The also control where you appear in search results as well. There are websites which have vanished entirely from Google’s results…because the angered the Google Gods by selling text links, or running contests that require a link back to your site (with certain text in the link).
In addition to the unfairness of PageRank, there have been rumors that Google may stop allowing people to see what their PageRank is. That could possibly be a good thing, lowering webmasters’ obsession with it, but does Google have an ulterior motive (besides not having to manage the viewable PageRank systems anymore)? Sure. If you can’t see your PageRank, it’s a lot harder to tell whether Google is “tweaking” it.
Whether Google stops allowing people to view their PageRank or not, we still need to find a new and more accurate way to judge the overall popularity/”quality” of blogs. In th future, will we rely mainly on RSS subscribe count? Technorati Authority? Yahoo “LinkCount?” I sure hope we don’t end up using Alexa Rank…