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The Misconceptions Regarding Google’s Page Ranking

An Overwhelming Percentage of Americans Think Money Drives Google’s 1st Page Ranking

PageRank, named by Larry Page, is the precursor algorithm used by Google search to rank web pages in the company’s search engine results. It is no longer the only algorithm used by the tech giant, but it is the first.

For my discussion, I wanted to focus on the public’s perception of the primordial algorithm, considering the scrutiny that big tech companies have been receiving in recent years, especially concerning their advanced automated search, and recommendation algorithms. The article I chose focuses on how these opinions are at times misconstrued. This article references a study that was conducted by IronMonk Solutions on 2000+ American respondents. A general conclusion that is discussed is that there is an evident increase in distrust that the average American has towards big tech companies and their complex software algorithms.

The article begins by referencing a statistic regarding the fact that out of those surveyed, “50.6% believe that it is most likely that websites pay Google to rank on the first page during a search for a product or service”. This statistic is significant as it demonstrates that over half of people surveyed believed that Google is deliberately influencing the market to service a select group of beneficiaries. Of the remaining 49.4%, 19.6% believe that Google manually selects them for some potential later benefit, and merely 29.8% believe that the algorithms are legit and that Google chooses the best sites based off of endorsements from other sites  Of course, in our readings regarding PageRank, we have learned about how sites that are displaying commercial products will not provide links to their competitors, and will only be pulled together through a set of hub pages. Because of this, it may appear that Google is only displaying a select few prominent sites, but it is more likely due to the fact that it is unlikely that users would see these disjoint competitors outside of central searches. Take competing news outlets as an example. It is very unlikely that a Fox News article would link to an MSNBC page or vice versa. In searching for recent news, people may find that they are viewing pages from the same news outlets every time, and as a result, develop a cynical view of how the Google search engine is being implemented. In reality, we recognize the fact that the PageRank algorithm is updating the rank of one of these organizations pages by considering all of the third party news outlets that are establishing links out to these large corporations.


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October 2019