Now that Google's Matt Cutts is back online, he's been steadily putting out new Webmaster Help videos on a daily basis. It will be interesting to see how long this continues.
Today's is particularly timely considering Google just pushed out a toolbar PageRank update (the first of the year).
Cutts responds to the following user-submitted question:
Why don't you switch off the PageRank Toolbar feature? It is widely used by link sellers as a link grading system. Why do you continue to display PageRank publicly? It appears to have little relevance, except to spammers.
"My rough answer is: there are a lot of SEOs and people in search who look at the PageRank toolbar, but there are a ton of regular users as well," says Cutts. "You would be really surprised at how many just regular people have the Google Toolbar, and user PageRank as a way to figure out...how reputable at something...I know it seems kind of strange, but it also seems strange that nofollow is only a single digit percentage of links on the web. We get into our tunnel vision, and we sort of say, 'Oh, well no one else uses the PageRank toolbar,' but the fact is a lot of people do."
He continues, "Now, one interesting twist is Chrome doesn't really have a PageRank toolbar feature built in, and Internet Explorer 10, as I understand it, doesn't allow toolbars or add-ins, or as Microsoft calls it, it provides an 'add-in free experience,' so if IE 10 becomes more popular, eventually it might be the case that the Google Toolbar is not as commonly used, and in that case, it might be the case that, it might be such that over time, maybe the PageRank feature is not used by as many people, and so maybe it will go away on its own or eventually we'll reach the point where we say, 'Okay, maintaining this is not worth the amount of work.'"
He says Google will probably continue to support the feature as long as people are using it. With IE 10, however, he says, "the writing is on the wall," so they'll see how that affects things in the future (particularly for Windows users).