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A Brief History of PageRanking as it Applies to Google

As discussed in class, Google is at the forefront of the establishment and proper implementation of the PageRank algorithm.  We learned how pages both act as hubs and authorities in some cases and how certain pages can act as heavy endorsements for other pages, even without actually choosing to do it.  A page that is being linked to by an important page will essentially be important according to PageRank in a singular way.  Obviously, there if there is only one important page linking to a site, it will not maintain a prominent role, but this is the general idea behind PageRank.


This article, written by an established technical blog, provides details about how Google specifically goes about creating its algorithm and the sense of importance among owners of websites while trying to maintain or better their PageRank.  Paul Salmon, a senior systems analyst at RBC, explicates how when Google was first founded, they assigned somewhat arbitrary values to each website, and then each site would be rated from 1 to 10.  The higher that a page was ranked, the more connections that existed between it and a keyword.  The generally agreed upon method that Google employed involved an increase in PageRank if a page had more backlinks from highly ranked pages and the back links must also contain the specified key word.  However, because this number is essentially linked to the intrinsic value of any page, site owners began to obsess over it, resulting in Google making the number less publically known and instituting other tools in addition to the PageRank number while showing its search results.


The article mentions that the value of a PageRank has somewhat diminished in the recent years as Google has started to implement alternative rankings strategies, and that back links, content, and key words are of much more relative importance than previously.  In fact, often times a PageRank may decrease for a web site, but its traffic may flow in the completely opposite direction (i.e. a web site receives more visitors in a month despite its PageRank going down).  As shown in class, search engines do not rely completely on PageRank for their results, but the importance of PageRank in assigning a value to each site is very important strategically and logically.  Overall, this article provided a technical history of the critical importance of PageRank and its historical relevance in the world of search engines, along with a critical overview of the arguments for and against it in the computing world.


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November 2011