Behold the Awesome Power of the Google PageRank

I could attempt to explain the complex algorithmic mathmatical jibber jabber that is Google’s PageRank system, but I’ll just let Google do that instead. What you need to know is that Google assigns each URL a PageRank of 0-10 to determine that page’s relevance or importance (by taking into account the number of incoming links and the popularity of the sites sending those links.) It’s only one of the factors that determines how search engines will treat your site, but it’s a fairly big one.

To put things in some form of perspective, Goggle, Apple, and NASA have a page rank of 10. Amazon, eBay, and Wikipedia have a page rank of 9. Jason Kottke is a 7. is a 6. (and all its subpages like this one) is a 5, which is inching towards being fairly popular. This is wholly logical and explainable. I’ve been writing here almost everyday for two years, and recently it’s been at a pace of 7 or 8 posts a day. But the is also completely surprising to me. Let me explain. 

It’s surprising because when I started publishing online in February of 2004, I didn’t have any real aspirations of world dominance; I just wanted to learn something about this unknown world of HTML and CSS and I figured Blogger was an easy, free way to do that. Less than two and a half years later, I’m still publishing online and I actually work in the web and interactive design industry. 

I’m quickly finding out, do in part to this whole PageRank thing, that I’m wielding a potentially powerful publishing platform. I can post about a silly video, a random tattoo artist in Chicago, making omelets in ziplock bags, or a new MySpace design, and within 24-48 hours, I’m on the FIRSTGOOGLESEARCHPAGE for those topics. Amazing. And it’s not just what I write that gets indexed; I get search result referrals from the comments section too. Yes, Virginia, what YOU write is very often showing up on the first few pages of Google.

This is all well and good when it comes to posting about internet fluff, because it’s mainly just mass distraction from your boring workday. But how about the fact that I’m a first page search result for “new mastercard logo” – a redesign that I (among so many others) was less than impressed with and had no problem talking about. All of the sudden it seems, what I say on this site has weight due to its position in the Google PageRank system. To put it quite simply, if I happen to mention your product/service/thingy lacking merit, there’s a very good chance that my post might show up on the first page of search results for your product/service/thingy. How disconcerting is THAT? 

Now, I’m not prone to rampant negative musings about people, their work, or their companies on this site (with the possible exception of Comcast – COMCAST, YOU SUCK and I hope to the Lord Baby Jesus that this post shows up as the first search result for “comcast you suck” in the near future) so no one needs to worry about me being a threat or anything. But the fact that a 2-year-old blog from some nobody artist who didn’t even own a cellphone or know what “the internets” were five years ago can start showing up A LOT in search engines is fascinating to me.

I suppose everyone who blogs has their reasons and motivations for doing so. Mine have changed over time and I try to continually ask myself “why do you do this everyday?” mostly because I’m not prone to do much of anything just to do it. At this point, I still blog because I still enjoy it. I like finding, sharing, and occasionally discussing the things that I post here with you, faithful internet readers. 

I don’t get a massive amount of traffic (in the grand scheme of things) and so writing for a large audience has never been a present thought at the forefront of my mind when I sit down and start typing. However, knowing that my thoughts, words, musings, etc. now have the potential to have influence makes me simultaneously REALLY EXCITED and quite a bit more apt to think before I type. 

The internet, and the susequent advent of easy personal publishing in the last 5 years, has leveled the playing field in so many ways. Politics is (hopefully?) changing because more people have access to actual unfiltered information and can make decisions based on that. Companies with bad customer service or inferior products are finding it more and more difficult to hide behind marketing spin. And, occasionally, through the magic of PageRank, a fairly normal kid from South Carolina can have a voice that people hear, even if it’s only via a Google search or two.