This is snapshot of the traffic of one of my more popular blogs. It is ugly. This graph might cause some readers to feel faint or dizzy.
This had PR5 for last year or so. It’s page rank dropped in late October to PR2. Then last week when Google zeroed out page rank of sites who had any dealings with PayPerPost the rank became PR0. You can see the drastic drop in traffic from the graph below.
Most site owners would be nauseous looking at a graph like that. They might fire their SEO. I admit when I looked at it I was queasy. Okay, very queasy … until I looked at my other numbers.
Correlation of Page Rank and Traffic
To say that page rank doesn’t matter isn’t entire truth. It matters … sometimes. It is one of several factors that contribute to whether or not you will be #66 or #3 on a search engine results page for SOME terms.
From my own experience page rank matters very much when going after highly competitive keyword terms.
This is why there is is such a huge spotlight on long tail keyword search. Only 10 sites can be in the top 10. It is relative easy with a reasonably good SEO to get higher traffic and higher conversions when focusing on long tail searches. It is a better way to spend your time and money.
There will be a time when things can reach a tipping point- and like my site in the above graph it ranked high- very high for competitive keywords and that would be important if I wanted to sell ad space or posts or impress people who should know better.
All Things Being Equal
All things being equal a site with PR5 will rank higher in SERPS than site with PR0 . Every time.
This is why Page Rank was invented- determining which site has more weight or authority on a specific term. Which site has the better reputation in a given field.
If Page Rank Doesn’t Matter- Why did Traffic Drop?
The site above in that scary graph is no longer ranking AT ALL for competitive keywords. The traffic is about 25% of what it was a month ago. That is a 75% DROP in traffic. Huge by any standards.
Now, I should I this point make some kind of disclaimer- I can’t be 100% sure that the page rank to zero is the only reason site traffic has dried up. I have always been a believer that PR does not matter and I am perplexed. This is my best guess. Perhaps there is another penalty that I am unaware of- though I know of no penalty and can think of done nothing that would get me one. Based on all the evidence I have- the timing, the age of the site and site history this is my best guess.
My Adsense revenue has dipped- slightly . My RSS subscribers list has gone up. You might think they both would also decrease by about 75% but doesn’t work that way. The traffic is very targeted and even more so because of long tail search ratio to competitive keywords . The AdSense ad reports reflect the change with higher CTR and about the same revenue.
The bounce rate is also changed completely. It appears as though people are staying on site longer and looking at more pages. Am I magically more interesting and more readable? No. The reality is that the people who came to site because of generic keywords are no longer coming.
I am curious to hear what other’s think is going on. I am torn between two ideas- Either I am being giving a hidden penalty or I have had traffic drop because I no longer rank for handful of competitive keywords. Still the drop is ENORMOUS. Looking at stats this *seems* to be whats going on.
NOTE: The site was given back some of its PR yesterday- it is now a PR3. I will post traffic graph in week or so.