report by Search Engine Roundtable late last week confirmed that PageRank values have indeed been removed from Webmaster Tools. Google has been threatening to take away the already crippled link-based importance indicator (Toolbar PR scores are purposefully outdated and often unavailable) since at least 2007, arguing that they are a distraction for webmasters and fuel the link buying industry. "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," explained Google's Susan Moskwa, adding "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." There's certainly a strong argument for removing it; people get too hung up about PageRank, mistakenly tying it directly to website rankings. Practically every SEO forum is littered with threads worrying about falls in PR or celebrations when it goes up. Crazy. The bizarre thing is why they haven't removed it completely; taking it out of Webmaster Tools but leaving it on the publically accessible Google Toolbar seems a little pointless. In his report, Barry Schwartz at SER speculates that there is disagreement within Google itself about what to do about the problem, hence visible PR refusing to die. The suggestion is that the search team want to ditch it, whereas Google executives value it for branding purposes. How important PageRank is to the Google brand I don't know, but moving the argument away from what SEOs and webmasters use it for, in an age of increasingly common phishing attacks and countless scam sites, in my experience PR can also be useful as a quick, admittedly imperfect* guide to genuine website importance; a replica site claiming to be Barclays Bank should raise eyebrows and probably warrant further investigation if it has zero PR. *Relying on PR scores as a defence against scam sites is absolutely not recommended. As mentioned, visible PageRank is far from accurate and can be spoofed (falsified).