Remember 2007? The year PageRank died?

Not so many months ago I read The Google Story. Man, I was impressed by how Sergey Brin and Larry Page came up through the ranks (pun!) with their determination to create something that would be the best in the world. According to the book their work was always guided by the simple principle of “for the user” and they sometimes made decisions that didn’t necessarily make business sense, but was “for the user“. When they became Google they also added “do no evil” in to the mix as the company’s guiding principle.

This whoo-ha about PageRank (named for Larry Page, interesting little trivia snippet) has exposed the fact that for the user and do no evil is apparently not as strong as it used to be. Every now and again I look at the price of Google’s un-affordable stock and I can’t help but wonder how much do no evil could be bought for. Or was bought for… With that many gazillion dollars, straight and narrow at the Googleplex now only refers to pencils.

The people who brought you do no evil, have done something that they will feel for a long time to come (although, this isn’t reflecting in their stock price yet, that keeps on climbing) – they’ve pissed off the blogosphere.

How to Lose Friends

In the beginning, Google created Page Rank and PageRank was good. An economy sprung up around PageRank, because people started making money off PageRank. Money was made by showing who has PageRank, what their PageRank where, and others made money by having PageRank – the higher your PageRank, the more popular your site, the more readers you have and the more advertising dollars you could get.

For a while, this situation benefited the behemoth, because many used Google Adsense and the equation above meant more clicks on their adverts, which contributed to their stock selling for as much as it is. Life was good.

Then some blogger somewhere decided that getting 2c per click from their Adsense ads just doesn’t pay the bills and decided to get somebody to pay them to blog. Paid-for links were born and soon it was used across the blogosphere by bloggers who found it much more lucrative than Adsense. At first, the dent in loss of revenue as advertisers diverted their advertising dollars, were hardly noticed amongst the mega-millions streaming in through Adsense.

But obviously somebody did notice – or the dent became a gaping hole.

An atrocity: bloggers were using a Google technology (PageRank) that made them money. And not only did they make money, but Google didn’t get any of that money, which probably wasn’t all that bad. But, bloggers, and their deviant ways, were actually causing Google to lose advertising dollars. Google, as you can image, couldn’t have been very happy.

Consequently, as fast as the Google engineers’ little fingers would allow them, a system was created to penalise those naughty bloggers who used PageRank as the weapon of mass deflation of Google advertising revenue. People who were caught posting for pay, were zapped with PR0 – significantly reducing their earning potential (the higher your PR, the better paid posts you can get).

Now it was the bloggers who weren’t very happy, as you probably could tell by reading this angry kitty, or are we there yet?, or realising it’s not so easy on market easy, or creative flow turning to hatred flow, or just this autopsy on the death of PageRank, or really most blogging sites that used PR as a slide in their presentation trying to convince people to use their blog to advertise on. Of course, we all deal with anger in our own ways.

Suddenly, PageRank became worthless. If you’re not going to include the paid links, and PR0 those who use them, people will stop paying attention to PageRank to a) tell if a site is popular, b) use it to convince advertisers, c) uninstall their Google bars, and d) get really really pissed off and, who knows, stop using your advertising network, search engine, other worthwhile products? Probably a worse case scenario, but if Google zaps blogger income, I hope bloggers have to sell Google stock (if they had any) to make up for the shortfall.

On The Up Side

Assuming PageRank had its moment, then this tsunami, created by PageRank themselves, have washed away the peels from the eyes of those who heralded PageRank as the be all and end of all of importance determination (if you allow me to mix my metaphors so ferociously). And such is the spirit of human innovation, that we can always build a better mousetrap.

And that better mousetrap appears to be RealRank. Hu?

One of the networks hard hit by our Do-no-evil Friends, are PayPerPost, who I believe now goes under Izea (idea with a German accent). So who better to be the source of the new mousetrap? And PayPerPost is taking steps to step on PageRank as it’s primary index for page importance. According to the Izea Community Blog, in a blog hilariously titled Goo Gone, next week RealRank will be integrated into PPP on a trail basis in an effort to cut it’s dependency on PageRank. Yah! For Izea!

But what is RealRank? Well, it uses a mix of stats, which is weighted majorly towards the actual amount of visitors that you receive every day. There’s other things in the mix as well that will determine your RealRank, but bottom line is that the more readers you have, the more important your site is going to be. A better explanation is to be found here.

Of course, there will be bugs, skeptics and yes, questions will be asked – and this might not be the ultimate new mousetrap, but it’s certainly is a step in the right direction… away from PageRank.

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