Google's PageRank Is Best Way to Rate Online Influence

Steve Rubel on Digital Communications

By Published on .

BusinessWeek recently created a bit of a stir from bloggers such as Ogilvy's John Bell when it reported that Google had created a method for ranking the influence of social networkers. But it might be moot, because bloggers are more influential.

Blog readership has quietly grown 300% in four years. Further, blogs strongly influence purchasing decisions, according to a new Jupiter Research/BuzzLogic study. Once again, trust comes into view. Frequent blog readers trust blogs for product advice more than they trust social networks.

Steve Rubel
Photo: JC Bourcart
Steve Rubel is a marketing strategist and blogger. He is senior VP-director in Edelman's Me2Revolution.
Influence in the blogging community is built link by link. That's why Technorati's link-authority algorithm, for a time, was the de facto way to measure bloggers. Over time, however, the environment changed. The media started to blog, and bloggers started attracting links from an array of sources, including Twitter and even static corporate sites. Enter Google.

Google assigns every page and site in its index a PageRank between one and 10. According to Google, "Pages that we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top of the search results."

Let's argue that Google is the gateway to all online content people want to find. To me, then, as a site builds its PageRank, it also grows its ability to influence people just when they're searching for products and services. Many bloggers -- with their linking ethos -- have attracted high PageRanks and thus have been assigned influence ratings by Google. It's a big reason why they remain more influential than social networks.

Although it's not perfect, there are three reasons why Google PageRank rules: It's something you have to earn over time, it measures your ability to shape opinions on the world's largest digital stage and it takes the entire online ecosystem into account. Many bloggers monitor their Google PageRanks; the Ad Age Power 150 and Healthcare 100 lists allow you to sort bloggers this way. (You can see the PageRank for any site or page using the advanced features of the Google Toolbar.)

So until someone shows me a better system, PageRank is the ultimate way to measure online influence.
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