Thankful for PageRank Updates, Blended Search

Today, half the U.S. population is traveling and the other half is preparing to host those travelers. Before we celebrate Thanksgiving Day and enjoy parades and scads of football games, let’s pause to consider those things in the SEO (define) industry that we can take or leave.

Are you thankful for or unappreciative of the following?

Little Green Pixel Fixations

Yahoo can complete a major indexation update with an algorithm refresh and MSN Live can release a major search upgrade, but nothing gets industry tongues wagging like a Google PageRank update. What is it about these little green pixels in Google’s toolbar that makes industry insiders time it, scoop it, analyze it, spin it, and debate it in forums and blogs?

Let’s face it, Google has to trim down its PageRank regularly, or we’ll have sites with more little green pixels than results on a page. If Google didn’t finesse and stroke its public-facing PageRank a couple times each year, some sites would eventually have a PageRank of 862 by 2010.

I’d really like to see a negative PageRank. Having a -1 to -10 scale would really give me something to work with. For instance, a PageRank of -8 would tell me that 80 percent of a particular site’s backlinks are purchased or otherwise acquired. I would be thankful for saving a lot of time digging into backlinks.

In the meantime, why not take a step back, cease and desist the overanalysis of those little green pixels, and answer a couple of questions about the latest PageRank update:

  • Did the volume of your site’s search engine referrals change? If so, how?
  • Did your sales revenue or lead-generation performance change? If so, by how much?

Answer these questions, and you’ll understand just how little those little green pixels mean during a PageRank update. Unless, of course, you were buying or selling text links. Then, you have to pay the price for paying for backlinks and not getting them the old-fashioned way — creating compelling content that earns them.

The Algorithm Killed Jeeves

A few of us danced on the grave of Jeeves because he was annoying, but we must pause and give thanks for Ask3D becoming the default results set for and pressing the envelope for the debut of universal, or blended, search results.

If Ask hadn’t killed Jeeves to ready its release of Morph, its content-matching and ranking technology that works in tandem with ExpertRank algorithm, in June 2007, Google would have held its mid-May launch of universal search rather than pre-empting Ask. Of course, MSN Live Search followed the blended-not-stirred trend in September with its “revolutionary” search results update, and Yahoo joined the universal party in October with the tandem release of Yahoo Suggests. So we really must thank Ask for taking news, videos, blogs, and images out of the OneBox and into mainstream page-one search results.

Without Ask3D, the paradigm of page-one search results wouldn’t have evolved to include all those Web 2.0 technologies we’ve been preoccupied with for the past couple years. Without blended results that include information from Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube, search-referred traffic would have continued to erode over time in favor of more socially centric content. Where would that leave Google’s market cap and made-for-AdSense splogs (define)?

Universal search results never would have been blended into the page-one mix if Jeeves weren’t toast. Besides, we really need to see more “Chicks With Swords,” don’t we?

Clarity and Cliques

There’s a lot going on right now in the search engine industry. Yahoo is bleeding talent and ex-Googler offshoots are springing up everywhere. The iPhone would have the propensity to be a tipping point for both local and mobile search if it weren’t exclusively stuck with AT&T. As much as some of these things matter, most of the moment-by-moment nuance is lost in a sea of lasting affects on search results.

This Thanksgiving, the search industry has a lot for which to be thankful. The business continues to evolve into something that utterly lacks clarity, which requires specialists to step in and translate or muddy the waters, depending on your perspective.

Think about it. If Google PageRank algorithms were transparent, who’d need expert advice? If PPC (define) advertising were uncomplicated and undemanding, who’d need to perform keyword research? If the industry had insight into search engine algorithms and wholly understood the quintessential value of natural search clicks, who’d need us?

We should all be thankful for green pixels, blended search results, iconoclastic mortality, and cliques. Without these search signals, we wouldn’t feel the need to be part of the noise.

Join us for SES Chicago on December 3-6 and training classes on December 7.

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