Monday, December 6, 2010

Google, PageRank, and Why It Matters - Or, Not

"Is Google Ditching PageRank?"
Daniel Snyder, Info Carnivore (December 5, 2010)

"Is Google ditching PageRank? Is it possible that the number one thing that website owners chase could soon be history? Google hasn't updated PageRank since early April 2010. That is odd. In fact being December now, that is the longest length of time that Google has gone EVER without a PageRank update.

Many people have been asking (including myself) when is the next Google PageRank update? But a better question might be is there going to be a next PageRank update? Why would I say that? Because for some SEO experts the question now is 'Google ditching PageRank?'

Though opinions vary greatly in the realm of SEO one thing that is generally agreed upon is that PageRank is used to determine how powerful a site is based primarily on backlinks. PageRank essentially encourages SEO, which is really not what google wants at all. Consider this official excerpt from in their technology overview section: 'As Larry [Page] said long ago, we want to give you back "exactly what you want." When Google was founded, one key innovation was PageRank, a technology that determined the "importance" of a webpage by looking at what other pages link to it, as well as other data. Today we use more than 200 signals, including PageRank, to order websites, and we update these algorithms on a weekly basis. For example, we offer personalized search results based on your web history and location.'...

The rest of the article discusses Google, PageRank, why PageRank is important to SEO, and why - by extension - PageRank is important to folks who have blogs and websites.

The Lemming is pretty sure that, if Google stops using PageRank, it will have an effect on how many folks find this blog. If the Lemming had the staff and budget to carefully analyze how many folks read what, and why - my guess is that a statistically-significant difference might be found if PageRank joins WordStar as something that was a really good idea. At the time.

Please note: The Lemming is not criticizing WordStar, or PageRank. WordStar was, arguably, a hot item. In the eighties.

Back to Google, PageRank, SEO, and common sense.

In the Lemming's opinion, whether or not Google continues using PageRank matters a great deal. To folks who have devoted time and effort to:
  • Unravel Google's method of
    • Indexing the Internet
    • Responding to queries
  • Use assumptions about Google's method to
    • Design blogs and websites
    • Write content
The Lemming isn't one of those folks.

SEO Optimization, Effective Communication, and the Lemming

The Lemming is interested in SEO, AKA Search Engine Optimization. I like having folks finding what I write, and reading it. That's partly an ego thing, partly good business sense - and the Lemming is getting off-topic.

Back when the Lemming was learning about Search Engine Optimization, the occasional nuggets of information were buried in a whole lot of dross. Which isn't another topic - and I'll get back to that.
Dubious Advice
Some of the advice was - dubious is a very polite way to put is. This is not what Mr. Snyder advocates, by the way. His approach to online marketing is a little different from the Lemming's: but I think we share a 'serve the reader' philosophy.

Back to dubious advice. You've probably run into some of what the Lemming calls 'stupid-clever' tricks: disabling the viewer's 'Back' button; typing lots of naughty words in the Alt tags, putting more naughty words in the page's background - as text that's the same color as the background.

Clever? In a way, yes. Calculated to produce qualified traffic, over a longish span of time? Probably not.

That sort of cybernetic scamming has, in the Lemming's opinion, the same sort of relationship to legitimate SEO as some guy selling a pocketful of stolen watches has to a third-generation family store.

Now, about 'real' SEO. The sort that's not likely to get the user blacklisted.
Smart SEO: Or, How to Not Make Enemies and Avoid Alienating People
Mr. Snyder's article is a pretty good example of what the Lemming calls 'smart SEO.' It's a cluster of techniques recommended by quite a few folks who actually had marketing experience - and who had a reputation to lose. Folks who were probably giving sensible advice, that is.

'Smart SEO' doesn't involve trying to intuit the inner workings of Google, or any other service. It does require the assumption that Google and other search sites want to present a list of links in response to queries - with the links most likely to reflect the user's interests on top.

And, that Google and other services aren't run by nitwits. In other words, that Google actually works, as a search site.

To get at or near the top of one of these lists, 'smart SEO' demands (in the Lemming's opinion, based on what I've read and learned) that a writer:
  • Find keywords
    • What word or words describe the post or page's content?
  • Place keywords in the page or post's
    • Title
    • First sentence
    • Second sentence
      • If possible, without repeating what the first sentence said
There's more to it. Quite a lot more.

The bottom line, though, of 'smart SEO' seems to be pretty much the same techniques that an effective writer should use:
  • Let the reader know what you're writing about
  • Write about what you said you'd write about
  • Use words that the reader is likely to understand
  • When you're through writing about your topic: stop writing
The Lemming doesn't always follow his own advice - but what can I say? The Lemming is only human. And that's several other topics.

Related posts:Like this post? Tweet it: Or, not: your choice.
A tip of the hat to dragonblogger, on Twitter, for the heads-up on his article.


Brigid said...

Forgot the person's name: "A tip of the hat to , on Twitter,"

Brian H. Gill said...


Wow. [Sound of palm striking forehead]

Found it, fixed it: Thanks!

Unknown said...

Thanks Brian for writing a follow up to my post - always appreciate your insights! Serve the reader. That's right.

Brian H. Gill said...


My pleasure. Thank you for those Info Carnivore articles.

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