Jamie's Blog

Lessons from a life of startups, coding, countryside, and kids

Google’s Demise

No it hasn’t happened yet, and it might not soon, but I think the founding basis for Google’s search technology is becoming less relevant.

In the good ol’ days, you could just do a simple search for the page with the best keywords. Then people got wise and we had pages full of irrelevant keywords just to attract viewers. Google’s revolutionary PageRank algorithm uses the links made to a website to provide a metric for how interesting/authoritative that site is. It’s based on the idea that getting someone to link to your site was hard and therefore those links were valuable. However, these days it’s very easy to create fake blogs, leave comments on other blogs, post in forums or tweet about your sites which all provides the valuable links Google is looking for. To combat this loophole, Google suggested (and web developers implemented) the nofollow link so now any link marked as rel=“nofollow” is ignored by Google.

Here’s the weakness: Links have stopped becoming a good indicator of popularity/relevance because they are no longer rare or hard to obtain. They’ve lost their meaning. Also, most of our links are now being published (and followed) on social media sites (digg/reddit, comments, forums, social networks, etc) but are being ignored by Google due to the nofollow attribute. Google is only using a small part of the web to provide their rankings.

Yeah, I know. This is all random, untested, unverified, unproven thoughts coming hot off my brain. So I’m probably wrong. And Google is far from dumb/ignorant about this and is highly unlikely to rely soley on PageRank. But I still think there’s a 1990’s-Google-like revolution in search technology waiting to happen using something other than links