Proving a page passes PageRank and other secrets

I came up with an interesting finding today, whilst testing whether having a link on a Google Profile passes PageRank. Writing it up prematurely, I am going to end up tainting the experiment, but since I inadvertently spotted something interesting, I decided to stop anyway and tell the world. So this post:

  • Shows you how to tell whether a page really passes page rank
  • Shows you why I think Google Profiles don’t pass PageRank (even though they are not nofollow) and
  • Shows an error in Google’s algorithm…. clear as day.

How to tell if a page really passes PageRank

Well first… I don’t believe in Page Rank. What I am actually testing is whether a link from page A to page B actually influences the ranking of page B in the SERPS. If you think that’s the same as green fairy dust, then please go back a few steps.

My test was to put some unique anchor text on page A that did not appear at all on page B. Most people trying to check or claim a page passes any authority or relevance tend to completely ignore this important part of such a claim. If the anchor text has any similarity with the content on the landing page, then you have screwed up your test, because there could easily be (and probably are) other factors affecting whether the landing page shows on a search engine for that term. Below is my test in pictures.

Why I think Google Profiles don’t pass PageRank

I did the above test on a Google profile… My own google Profile. I used the unique text:  “I live in Harlington with Marie and my two kids and I have just taken on an allotment.” The profile went live in late November. Now in THEORY, that link is not “NoFollowed” so if Google finds it, then it should take some authyority from it’s parent domain (which is www.google.com!) and then in do couse, the landing page would show in the Google results for either the phrase “I live in Harlington with Marie and my two kids and I have just taken on an allotment.” or just “just take out an allotment”… even though these words do not appear on page B right? Of course, just because Google doesn’t put “NoFollow” tags in its own links, doesn’t mean the links are “DoFollow”. Anyway… Heres what has happened with the test so far.

Day 1: Google hadn’t indexed anything. So no screenshot to show you.

6th January the result was like this:

jan6th

Very cool… Compete.com seems to have cached the page, and its cache made it into Google’s SEPS before the original post! However… no sign of the landing Google profile or the landing page yet.

Jan 15th the result was like this:

jan15th

Google has found Page A (The Google Profile) and has indexed it… and to be fair has given it more relevence than the Compete.com Cache, even though Google iondexed the Compete’s page before its own.

Feb 1st the result was like this:

feb15st  

Google managed to kick Compete out of the results altogether. But the Landing Page (page B) is still not appearing for either of my test search phrases. Now that I have published this post, my test must stop, because I have other links to the landing page. But a new test continues, I suppose, to see if THIS page passes anchor text link juice to the landing page. But I stopped the test, because the test already found two new things:

An error in Google’s algorithm…

Look closer at the above image. Is it my eyes, or does it say “No results found for ‘I live in Harlington with Marie and my two kids and I have just taken on an allotment.’ and then… right underneath it… show a page with EXACTLY that result. Syntax correct… match case correct… everything correct. So the Hazard symbol lies.

Here’s another bonus secret for reading to the end…

Most people think that Google will call the first page it indexes with duplicate content the authoritative version. However, Google clearly indexed compete’s version first… some days later, it indexed my profile… then some days later again it dumped compete.com.

So that debunks the theory that the first call on content wins.

Much to think about there. Can you add to my findings?

Integrated Search. The future of search.

Last week I was privileged enough to be invited to Microsoft’s “Live Search Symposium” in a posh private venue in Knightsbridge. There were only a hundred or so guests, but when the guests include Danny Sullivan, Dave Naylor and the tech boffins at the British Library you know you are in the right sort of place.

(By the way – how short can you make YOUR domain name? The British Library is www.bl.uk… Do you think their DNS could drop the www? that would be very cool. Anyway… I digress.)

The symposium was exceedingly slick. MUCH better than I am used to frankly, from Microsoft. They really put text based serps into perspective as being… frankly the very start of search. I know we have been banding about universal or blended search for over a year now, but in the UK at least, we really haven’t made the leap. Microsoft seem pretty joined up in their thinking about how that leap will change their fortunes in serach. Microsoft are not thinking “serps”. They are thinking vertical search and multiple media. They may still be weaker than Google in the organic results, but what they have been building an the infrastructure powerful enough to break Google’s market up entirely by encouraging different people to build different ways to search, based on different audiences. Danny reported on one such example of the Indiana Jones Search Engine straight out of the meeting and if you haven’t spent 30 minutes engaging with http://www.msdewey.com/ you really should! but Microsoft have gone way further and it looks like their new “Silverlight” product (a bit like flash on steroids). I am no developer, but seeing how the dots connect almost makes me wish I was.

Microsoft are not just paying lip service to these joined up dots either, They have created dozens of viral videos which must have cost a fortune! (sorry… the video below is probably still loading… bear with Microsoft…)


What Dixon Jones laughs at during working hours

There are several of these designed primarily (it would appear) for the UK market.

Probably the most impressive thiong I saw to show integrated search could already be was http://specials.uk.msn.com/mayoral-election which was pulling news, image and data feeds in real time as the London elections were going on. Once built, the system was functioning and updating seemlessly straight through the election period and is still current now. You need to download Silverlight to see it, mind, but wow – that’s going to challenge the very core of the news providers. Apparently anyone with programming skills and some time on their hands could have built it, using Microsoft’s freely available APIs. It didn’t have to be MSN, but obviously they wanted to see how far they could take the technology.

When you have search that is so rich in any given verticle or topic, built by millions of enthusiasts in thousands of genres and styles… what does Google become by comparison? Just a directory of search engines – because the “most authoritative” source and “richest experience” on (say) bungee jumping will be a site that drags in every valuable news search, image search, map locations, addresses, forums and blogs on the subject in the most entertaining way… and that way will be based on Microsoft’s silverlight technology and Microsoft’s APIs. Not Google’s.

The better Google gets at retutning the “best site” at the head of search, the more Microsoft technology driven sites will be at the far end. That leaves Google with the long tail and no place to go.

I’m not saying Microsoft’s strategy will work. But it’s definitely a strategy that wasn’t thought up and developed to this level of sophistication on the back of a napkin. It might just work.