Up until recently Google had an explanation of PageRank on their technology overview page located here:http://www.google.com/corporate/tech.html
I recently noticed they have removed their explanation of how PageRank is calculated using their “vote” concept.
I found this interesting and wondered if it is a sign of bigger things to come/change in Google’s search algorithm. I am not sure of the exact date when they removed/changed this page, but you don’t have to look back too far!http://replay.waybackmachine.org/20100905212347/http://www.google.com/co…. I have long believe that their original concept (paraphrased below) was flawed for a couple reasons. With that being said I think it would be a good time to post my opinion about PageRank and what it means and how it is possibly a flawed concept.
The following quote is paraphrased from both what Google used to show on their own site and from other sites that still publish a definition similar to what they had published:
“PageRank measure’s a web page’s importance. The concept is that the most important pages on the Internet are the pages with the largest amount of links leading to them. PageRank thinks of links as “votes”, where a page linking to another page is essentially casting a vote for that page. In this sense the concept seems to make sense since websites do tend to link to relevant and valuable content, and pages with more links to them are usually better sources than pages that nobody links to.
PageRank doesn’t stop there. It also looks at the importance and relevancy of the page that contains the “vote”. Pages with higher PageRank have more weight in “voting” with their links than pages with lower PageRank.”
I found it somewhat ironic that Google removed their official definition of PageRank, and it seemingly coincided with the most recent large Google update called either “Farmer” (named by webmasters) or “Panda” (reportedly Google’s official name).
I don’t think this means anything has changed much in terms of their Algorithm and ranking process related to PageRank, but it may be worth thinking about what their motivation for removing it might have been and any potential future changes that could result. The description of PageRank above is accurate, but as you would expect, it is much more complex than how they describe it, and there is certainly a lot of information left out of that description. Google has never elaborated on “their” definition for obvious reasons, but I think it may go to the real flaw that now exists in the PageRank concept.
In it’s simplest form the idea of sites voting for other sites makes sense, and in it’s most primitive forms it worked well for Google. The problems started when webmasters realized how important this was to a well ranking website. As soon as that became common knowledge in the SEM / SEO industry Google (unintentionally I believe) created a multi-million, maybe even billion dollar market of buying and selling links. They essentially created a secondary market withing the SEM / SEO industry that consisted entirely of this buying/selling method of improving PageRank. Google tried to combat this problem by changing their quality / technical guidelines to include terms like “don’t buy or trade links for the purpose of manipulating or improving search results.” This was an easy quick solution for them, but not for website owners, all it did for the public was further confuse and make cloudy and already gray area.
I would compare it to a Catch 22 conundrum. Google’s formula is founded on the concept of PageRank and seemingly still is. So in order to rank well you need to get links from other websites to your website, but now you can’t pay for them (for that purpose). So now we have a virtually impossible situation for website owners, particularly in commercial industries looking to improve their rankings. Yes, of course, according to Google you can just innovate some great product, and it is so cool tons of websites start linking to you. That is essentially the only way to build PageRank and follow Google’s terms exactly as they state them. Of course we all know this is not reality.
So where does this leave us. I think this leaves us with a clear understanding of how Google’s original and probably worthy concept is now flawed, and I would guess it is something they are trying to figure out internally as how best to deal with. Every search engine marketing company has ways to try and get around this, but all it really consists of is varying levels of breaking the rules. And at the end of the day, some people are too obvious and get caught and get blacklisted, and others that are more conservative probably skate by and don’t get penalized and are successful, but they are still violating Google’s terms on some level.
I have my own thoughts on ways they could solve this giant mess they have created, but I will leave that for a future post, or for use in my own search engine that is superior to Google… lol