Yesterday, it was reported that Google had updated PageRank. People took to the forums to share their new PageRank numbers - many of which had increased.
It appears, however, that Google's own PageRank has gone down from a 10 to a 9. Make of this what you will, but it is quite interesting that the controller of all PageRank would devalue its own.
Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable, who first reported on this, says, "Does it matter? No. But it is interesting, nevertheless." He provides the following screen cap:
Image credit: Search Engine Roundtable
Notice the mouseover text: "PageRank is Google's view of the importance of this page." And that's from Google's own toolbar. That makes it sound a little like it matters.
In late 2009, Google removed PageRank from Webmaster Tools, but decided to keep it in the Google Toolbar. Google has basically said that people worry about PageRank way too much. “We’ve been telling people for a long time that they shouldn’t focus on PageRank so much; many site owners seem to think it’s the most important metric for them to track, which is simply not true,” said Google’s Susan Moskwa. “We removed it because we felt it was silly to tell people not to think about it, but then to show them the data, implying that they should look at it.”
Yet they continue to leave it in Google Toolbar, and clearly many webmasters still feel like they should look at it.
Regarding Google's own lower PageRank, one forum member in BlackHatWorld writes, "It's just that some agencies are lately doing investigations against Google, so it may be the reason."
That's probably jumping to conclusions, but it interesting to bring up. The Department of Justice is looking into the company's proposed acquisition of ad-optimization firm AdMeld, and the Federal Trade Commission just launched a broad investigation of Google's business operations and competitive practices.
Google put out a blog post addressing this late last week, citing 5 principles that will "stand up to scrutiny" from regulators: doing what's best for the user, providing the most relevant answers as quickly as possible, labeling advertisements clearly, being transparent, and letting users take their data with them if they decide to opt out of Google products.