It seems Google have ceased access to their PageRank API in the UK as of today. Checking various third party toolbars such as SEOquake and SearchStatus all come up with nothing, however the official Google toolbar still seems to show a figure.
Google’s patent for PageRank actually expires in 2011 according to this blog post. Its was originally renewed in 2003, but it has not been confirmed if Google will renew it again this year. This could open the way for other search engines to launch their own ranking score for websites.
So is this a sign that Google are phasing out showing toolbar PageRank altogether? They have been talking about it for a while now as an effort to curb link buying and selling. It would be a big move forward for Google and the rest of the search industry and could clean up a lot of legacy SEO practices and beliefs.
There are however alternatives to Googles PageRank score, for example the SEOmoz’s MozRank which could even replace PageRank as the definitive authority score for a domain (and be used by link buyers and sellers). The key difference is that alternatives will never be able to show if a domain has been penalised through a drop in toolbar PageRank.
How will this affect your SEO? Let us know in the comments.