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Small businesses and manipulating PageRank

In the past 10 years, “Google it” has replaced “Look this up” in our vocabulary. ¬†Googling something has become a wide-spread lingo for finding anything on the internet, whether it be who won the 2004 Presidential Election or buying new shoes. A lot of consumers just google the name of their desired products ¬†in order to find competitive options, and this has created an immense value on a supplier’s webpage ranking on Google’s search results. Generally, consumers are lazy and do not look beyond the first page of their search results, and usually concentrate on options from the first four or five results (say amazon, ebay, staples etc). Thus a seller who figures in one of these positions will get a lot more visits, which implies he will be more likely to sell his products. Thus figuring in the top few results can dramatically increase a business’s sales and profits. A lot of big corporations buy google’s ads, so that they can feature at the top, but the high cost of these pay-per-click ads (as discussed in class) make it prohibitive for smaller businesses to buy them. Therefore smaller businesses tend to utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which ensures their webpage features in the top few unpaid search results.

This is achieved by modelling their webpages so that Google’s PageRank algorithm recognizes them as important “authorities”, and places them at the top of its search results. The linked article discusses how to create a business’s web page so that it can beat the ranking of larger businesses by manipulating Google’s search process. This is quite similar to what we discussed in class, and in our homework. An obvious fix is to make better use of “keywords” that a consumer might search for, like “comfortable”, “affordable” etc for a shoe company. However, a better way is to exploit’s PageRank’s notions of “authorities” and “hubs”, by setting up and getting links from 3rd party websites, who should be designed to come across as a good “hub”. So if a business sets up a number of websites who link to the top two players and itself, it will gain comparative advantage in Google’s results over the third competitor and onwards, as PageRank will label these websites as good “hubs”, and by consequence, the client’s webpage as a good “authority”. Similiarly if small business appease the bloggers or authors who write articles on related products, and these bloggers start featuring them, then they will start moving up in terms of search results as an established “hub” is pointing to them, so they are treated by PageRank as a higher “authority”. Using these techniques, a small business can move up the search results table by investing time, rather than money, in appeasing bloggers and creating new webpages!

Climbing up those results

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