In recent times you may have noticed that I have become obsessed with statistics and rankings with respect to my blog. Just last night is was rummaging through some e-mail when something caught my eye. I was using Gmail and there in the PageRank plugin for Firefox was a score of 7/10 for my Gmail inbox? Now I thought this to be a little odd considering Google’s own site says this:
PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”
Important, high-quality sites receive a higher PageRank, which Google remembers each time it conducts a search. Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don’t match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. Google goes far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines all aspects of the page’s content (and the content of the pages linking to it) to determine if it’s a good match for your query.
Surely this means that my Gmail inbox should have a PageRank of at most 1 if zero is not possible? Surely nobody can link to my inbox. The answer of course is obvious, my inbox is not actually it’s own URL but merely the result of logging into http://mail.google.com/mail which I can only assume is a highly linked URL. This got me thinking. If I was running a site and wanted good returns in Google searches via pages that had very high Google PageRanks, then why should I invest time in different physical pages? Instead I can invest all my time and money developing a single page that is highly ranked and then programmatically construct every other page within the same URL? User-friendliness is of course the big problem, people like absolute URLs without parameters. Still though, makes you think if you only want to get visitors to your site and aren’t concerned about them bookmarking anything other than the homepage.