The rise of the re-Tweet puts pressure on PageRank
Monday, 6 July 2009 — by Wayne Smallman
To link is to like is to love. Or at least, that’s been my mantra for long enough. Problem is, Twitter and its ilk could be undermining the web itself. But if we link less, are we trusting less? No. We just need a better way to measure who and what we trust…
Shock! Horror! Google are losing ground to social media? While the numbers are small, they are also an inevitability:
“Seeing the hard numbers of how social media search queries on sites like Facebook has gained in popularity is not a surprise to most … however, in the comScore numbers reported by Search Engine Watch was the slight step backwards that Google took by recording 2% less search queries in May vs. April of this year.”
To me, this was nothing like a shock. I predicted this would happen way back in November 2007, when I saw a trend emerging that I realized had enormous implications for Google and all of the other search engines. In simple terms, social media was on course to kill Google’s search algorithm:
“Instead of ‘Googling’ for something, we find stuff being sent to us as emails from friends, in our profiles, in a friends’ lists of favourites, or any number of user-generated websites, ‘blogs, RSS feeds, Social Networks and Social Media portals.
While we’re busying ourselves voting and commenting on this stuff, we’re not using Google’s search algorithm, and we’re not clicking on Sponsored Links, either.”
Google’s losses are social media’s gains
OK, so the knock to Google is small, that I’ll grant you, but it’s a number that will grow. Why? Because despite having some of the brightest minds in the world working for them, Google don’t have clue one when it comes to social media. And for their part, Google still don’t have much of a clue how to deal with social media, as an entity, let alone as a function of their own products. Right at the very top, Google’s Marissa Mayer struggles to grasp the fundamentals of social media.
Fast forward a few years and another trend begins to emerge, that also coincided with a drop off on my part; I’m not writing nearly as prolifically as I once was due to work commitments. So for me to see the total number of back-links drop off would at least seem to make sense, directly correlating with the slow down in my writing.
However, that might not be the whole story. What if the number of back-links to blogs was dropping off as a whole, across the entire blogosphere? The question is, why?
Louis Gray might have the answer. You see, as re-Tweeting grows as a social activity, there has to be some impact to blogging, as a whole:
“While most of my posts only get a few dozen tweets, some have numbered over a hundred. And as this occurs, in parallel, the total number of links back to the Web site from other blogs is decreasing.”
But this isn’t just about back-links. I’ve had a number of people ask me why their PageRank has dropped off recently. In some cases, quite precipitously. The number one reason is likely to be that Google has determined there are fewer links pointing in your direction, therefor your PageRank decreases commensurately.
If this is the result of people spending more time active within their social networks, sharing what they find, and spending less time writing about what they discover, the implications for PageRank as a measure of value, and linking as a measure of trust and authority could be terminal.
Assuming that back-links are beginning to dwindle, taking with them a key measure of trust, we have to ask: who owns your authority on the web? A question I’ll help decipher tomorrow…
- As re-Tweeting rises, linking continues to decline
- Social Media to kill Google’s search algorithm?
- Google doesn’t get Social Media
- Google’s Mayer questions value of Social Media