Whether you believe in SEO or Page Rank and wonder which is more important, your thinking is irrelevant. You are wasting your time in wondering what is the correct answer to that question, since even if you knew it there is little you could do to use that information.
Why do I say that? Because SEO, or search engine optimization, is a way of designing your website, and placing content in it, to satisfy search engine algorithms. Search engines are so sophisticated today that if you achieve that, then you will also satisfy visitors to your website. If you satisfy visitors to your website, then they will stay on the page they landed on and read it. They will then click to read other pages on your website, and might even make a purchase.
Sure, some will leave right away, but if the search engines feel that your content is good enough for a high placement in their indices for the search term, or keyword, that your visitor used to get to your web page, then it is more likely that you will achieve a relatively high stick rate of people to your site than a lower one.
Now, consider if you thought Google PageRank more important (and PageRank is correct, not Page Rank). You would then spend more of your time trying to get links back to your website than you would properly optimizing your site and filling it with good content. If you were successful in that difficult job, then Google, and possibly other search engines, would list you a bit higher in their indices, not because their spiders thought your site was relevant to the search term used by the potential visitors, but because other websites though so.
You will then get visitors to your website, and the page they land on would have to be relevant to the search term they used or they will immediately leave. If it is relevant, they will stay, perhaps visit other web pages and perhaps make a purchase.
So what is the difference? You get basically the same end result. How can you tell which is the more important. There is one simple way to do this, and one that I have used more than once. Design two websites round the same keyword. Make the keyword the name of the website and then apply classical theoretical SEO to one site, including some of the extra special tips that can make the difference between success and failure – in fact that DO make that difference.
Now apply only minimal SEO to the other and make sure you have exactly the same content on each, but rewritten to avoid duplicate content or that would negate the test. However, with the second site, you must generate as many links back to your website as possible, using non-reciprocal links where possible, but reciprocal links where necessary. There are a few ways in which you can generate lots of one-way links to selected pages on your site, and you should make that your home page for the purposes of this test.
Wait 4 weeks then check Google, Yahoo and MSN for the position of each of your home pages. You will find that your first website will generally be listed higher for the keyword that both sites are built round. Check again about 3 months later, and will likely find that website 2 will feature higher as the links start to take effect, but then the first site will overtake it as it generates its own links naturally.
Basically, what this proves to me is that it is essential to optimize your website for search engines in the classical way, but that for best results you must also have a good level of links back to your website. There are simple, ways to achieve both, but that would be the topic of another article. However, in the end, if you apply both, then you will achieve best results. I know that there are exceptions to this, and I have highlighted them in some my ebooks, but generally that is the case.
So, the answer to the question: SEO or Page Rank, is that neither is the more important. They are both equally important, but it is possible to do one better than the other and then you would be tempted to say that your way was best. But you would be wrong!
If you did find what was the best you couldn’t use that information since search engines rules are transitory but good honest content and classical SEO has always prevailed, as has a good number of links that others follow to reach your website.