Google’s Democratic Leanings

Matt asks: Has pagerank run it’s course?

Daniel Brandt: Google’s Original Sin. [Scripting News]

» A good piece.  The main thrust is that Google’s reliance on pagerank, far from being democratic, is uniquely autocratic.  Because sites with a high pagerank matter most, they have more power and it is harder for site with a low pagerank to get noticed regardless of the relevance of their onpage content. … It’s quite possible that [Google sees] an advantage for themselves in the tyranny of pageranks and the power of corporate America to wield them! [Curiouser and curiouser!] ( emphasis mine)

When I started this blog ten months ago, Google ignored my site. Why? Because nobody knew about it – there were no inbound links, no readership. Over time, people found it and linked to it. Google crawled the site – but didn’t update the site very often. Traffic to my site grew incrementally, but Google was still hanging out on the sidelines waiting to see if this site was for real, or just a flash-in-the-pan thing.

As the number of inbound links grew (according to Google, it now knows of 838 inbound links to and the frequency with which my site was updated grew, Google started visiting more frequently. With few exceptions, Google now updates my site daily – and accounts for about 50-60% of visits to my site. Because more sites link to me, and because I update the content frequently, Google ranks me higher in the search results page. (Odd but true fact? I’m now the #8 “Rick” at Google. Look out, Ranger Rick.)

Why is any of this relevant? This site is the work of one guy (me) – no commercial entity managing the process. Yet I’m in the top 10 search results for things like “business relationships“ (#1 on that one), “cross selling“ (#3), and ”knowledge management weblogs“ (#4). Not only does this ultimately disprove Brandt’s claim that Google establishes a tyranny of high-trafficked sites (any of the search terms mentioned above are highly applicable to more commercial entities than my blog), it also establishes that Google is a good barometer of what other Internet users find useful about a particular term.

If anything, blogs increase Google’s democratic leanings – by increasing the likelihood that one individual’s comments ( good/bad/otherwise) will ultimately help identify the relevance of one page to the term in question.

For anyone maintaining a site – no matter how new or low-traffic it may be today – the lesson is to ensure that others are aware of it and can link to it. Those two facts alone will get you in the game – and help Google make you part of the broader community of sites worth visiting. In my case, it took about 6-8 weeks from creation to index. Mention on a high profile site that’s frequently indexed by Google could move that up to a matter of days.

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