The Axandra newsletter archive - 7 December 2004
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

This week, we're taking a look at the recent discussion about the value of the official Google PageRank numbers.

In the news: Bill Clinton blows horn for search start-up, a new study reveals the most hated advertising techniques and more.

Table of contents:

We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and that it helps you to get more out of your web site. Please pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Facts of the week: Google PageRank controversy

Google Toolbar PageRank only for entertainment purposes?

Last week, two statements about Google's PageRank started a new discussion about this topic.

The first statement was made in the Search Engine Watch forums. It was from a person who received the following answer to a PageRank question from a Google employee:

    "The PageRank that is displayed in the Google Toolbar is for entertainment purposes only.

    Due to repeated attempts by hackers to access this data, Google updates the PageRank data very infrequently because is it not secure. On average, the PR that is displayed in the Google Toolbar is several months old.

    If the toolbar is showing a PR of zero, this is because the user is visiting a new URL that hasn't been updated in the last update.

    The PR that is displayed by the Google Toolbar is not the same PR that is used to rank the webpage results so there is no need to be concerned if your PR is displayed as zero.

    If a site is showing up in the search results, it doesn't not have a real PR of zero, the Toolbar is just out of date"

In another forum, a person with the name GoogleGuy, who is believed to a Google employee, made the following statement:

    "I'd strongly disagree with the statement that the toolbar PageRank is for 'entertainment purposes only'--millions of toolbar users use the PageRank display to judge the quality of pages.

    I think it's also a little irresponsible to quote John Galt claiming to talk to some random person at Google, and then for you to quote it as a response from Google, which makes it sound more official. I'm happy to refute that this is any sort of official stance."

GoogleGuy didn't say that the comments in the first statement are wrong. He said that toolbar users use the PageRank display to judge the quality of web pages. He did not say that Google uses the number of the PageRank toolbar to rank web pages.

The PageRank feature is also no longer mentioned in the official Google toolbar tour.

What does this mean to you?

Of course, PageRank is important to get good rankings on Google. However, the PageRank number that is displayed in the Google Toolbar and the green PageRank bar are not important at all for good Google rankings.

It's very likely that the PageRank number that can be seen in the Google Toolbar is mainly a marketing instrument for Google that doesn't have much effect on the search results. Google seems to use an internal PageRank value for its ranking algorithm and a public PageRank value for the toolbar.

That would explain why many web pages with a high ranking on Google have a low (toolbar) PageRank.

When you want to trade links with another web site, don't look at the PageRank of that site. Instead, ask yourself: Is the web site related to your site? Would it make sense for web surfers if they linked to you and you linked to them? Could visitors of the other web site be interested in your site? If you find a web site that you would want to visit or your visitors would want to visit then link to it and ask for a link back to your site.

Just use common sense. If you like a page, changes are that other people also like that page, no matter what PageRank the Google toolbar displays.

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2. Search engine news of the week

The most hated advertising techniques

    "Advertisers don't know if their reputations are degraded among the vast majority of users who don't click their ads, but might well be annoyed by them. Now, however, we have data to start addressing these questions."

Ask Jeeves launch MyAskJeeves service in the UK

    "Like the American service the UK version of 'MyAskJeeves' will enable users to save and store any searches they have made on into their own personal 'MyAskJeeves' web folder. The service which is free does not require registration."

Google CFO: fraud a big threat

    "A top Google official said that growing abuse of the company's lucrative sponsored ad-search model jeopardizes the popular Internet search engine's business."

Bill Clinton helps launch search engine

    "Former president Bill Clinton on Monday helped launch a new Internet search company backed by the Chinese government which says its technology uses artificial intelligence to produce better results than Google Inc."

How do you spell Levenshtein?

    "We made sure our new [MSN] search engine included a revamped spelling correction system that’s much better than our old one. [...] Despite being a significant improvement for MSN Search users, the new spelling correction system is still far from perfect."

CitySearch launches pay per call product

    "The new product allows local merchants to track business leads through the number of phone calls they receive."

Search engine newslets

  • Google has registered new web site names:,,
  • Google opens Tokyo research centre.
  • Google news sometimes shows fake news.
  • Google launches a new version of Google Groups.
  • Yahoo Japan to start providing quick info on quakes.
  • Yahoo puts its mark on consumer electronics.
  • Researchers create tool to automatically search handwritten historical documents.
3. Articles of the week

Searching for Google's future

    "CEO Eric Schmidt talks to FORTUNE about the company's quest to promote growth beyond its search engine and its sloppy IPO."

Desktop search: the ultimate security hole?

    "While end-users may jump at the chance to uncover their lost e-mails or past Web page visits, analysts and IT executives are warning enterprises to think twice about desktop search because of its potential to reveal personal and confidential information on corporate computers."

The magic that makes Google tick

    "Google's vice-president of engineering was in London this week to talk to potential recruits about just what lies behind that search page."

Mozilla launching second act with e-mail client

    "With the launch of the Thunderbird 1.0 application, the nonprofit hopes to achieve in e-mail what it did with its Firefox Web browser: Persuade a groundswell of users to try its alternative to Microsoft Corp.'s dominant software."

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4. Recommended resources

"My site is ranked #1 on Yahoo and MSN Search."

    "I've been using your IBP search engine optimization software to help me develop a new website for my aircraft certification flight test consulting business.

    The results that I've seen are absolutely tremendous! My site has only been online for two months and today was ranked #1 on Yahoo and MSN Search for at least 3 of my target keyword phrases, and in the top 10 search results for at least an additional 10 phrases - with only minor changes to my site's content.

    If you do a search on Yahoo or MSN today for the term 'certification flight testing' you'll see my site in the #1 position. This is fantastic!

    I have to admit that I was dubious at first. Now I think that this is truly the best investment that I've ever made in an online marketing and promotion product.

    Thanks for all the help and I look forward to continuing to use your IBP software to market my website."
    Rick Baker, Owner, Flight Test Consultant, Baker Aviation Services, LLC

Want to be mentioned in this newsletter?

    Just send us some words about your successes with IBP or ARELIS and you might get featured in this newsletter along with your web site address.

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5. Previous articles

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