Yes, "PageRank" is effectively meaningless now. (it's offical because I say so ;))
I had been reading people talking about how what is most commonly referred to as Pagerank doesn't exist any more and that Pagerank tools were pretty well useless. However, I didn't want to take their word for it without verifying it for myself. So a little while ago I created an experiment to test how much PageRank actually reflects where one is positioned in a google search engine results page. When I refer to "Pagerank" I mean the value (between 0 and 10) that is associated with a site or web page and that is meant to be a reflection of how popular content is based on who is pointing to that content (google "pagerank tool" to get a list of a tools you can use online to check the pagerank of any site).
In my experiment I took a domain that had no pagerank (gumbozumbo.com) and I put some content on the site (namely a Flash/Software chess clock that I made some time ago and I now offer for free on the gumbozumbo.com domain). In my experiment I targetted the search term "free chess clock", which was easy to do because I dedicated the entire domain to providing/promoting this free application and the light content was very keyword targetted (for the record, I did nothing underhanded or illegitimate here. I offered real and valuable content and did not misrepresent it in any way).
Now, if you use any PageRank checker on the gumbozumbo.com domain name, you will see that it has a reported PageRank of Zero (even though I solicited a few very relevant links to the content).
(ranking courtesy of prchecker.info)
However, if you search for "free chess clock" in Google, you will see that it ranks first; ahead of free chess clocks on other domains that have high Pagerank.
Clearly highly focused content has a much greater affect on Google search engine rankings than similar content on sites that are not as focused, even if those sites have high Pagerank.
I hope discussing the gumbozumbo domain in this blog isn't going to throw the result off (grin).