- Internet & the Web
An Analysis of Page Rank, Search Results, and Free Coupons on the Internet
An Analysis of PageRank, Seach Results, and Free Coupons on the Internet
We begin from the premise that people want free stuff and they use Google to locate free stuff on the Internet. Our Google search is for the simple phrase Free Coupons with no quotes. In preparation for our search we deleted our Google cookies so the results returned by the search engine would not be affected by any history stored in our browser cookies.
We will analyze the search results returned by Google in terms of PageRank. PageRank is as eponymous metric developed by Google founders Sergei Brin and Larry Page whilst graduate students at Stanford University. Actual calculations and computations are not publicly available, but speculation around how PR values might be calculated drive huge numbers of web sites. SEO entrepreneurs stake their professional reputations on their ability to manipulate PageRank values.
Sponsored Results are Ignored
The first 2 results were sponsored links; these links appear courtesy of a pre-paid agreement between Google and the owner of the links. In television parlance, they would be referred to as "commercials". For our research, we ignore these results. Certainly these sponsored links will attract some clicks, but our research is not concerned with click results, rather search engine results.
Configuration of the Research Parameters
Our research centers on the first 6 non-sponsored results returned by Google. While 10 non-sponsored results were returned by Google, only the first 6 are visible in the browser window. A human would have to scroll down to see the last 4 results. Human nature dictates that the first 3 or 4 results receive the vast majority of clicks. Our researchers optimized the number of results visible in the browser window by scrolling down slightly to hide the Google Search bar and the browser menus and tabs. This exposed more search results. The screen resolution of the computer was 1024 X 768, which is typical for a modern computer. Certainly we could have squeezed more results into the window by increasing the screen resolution.
Collated Search Results
We consider the PageRank of the first 6 non-sponsored links that were returned by Google:
www.CouponMom.com 6 www.freecoupons.com 4 www.dealcatcher.com 6 www.coolsavings.com 6 www.coupons.com/ 6 www.wow-coupons.com 4
Evaluation of Results
PageRank calculations are preformed by Google and represent an arbitrary valuation placed on a web site. The highest possible value is 10, the lowest 0. The scale is not linear; in other words, a PageRank of '2' is not twice as good as a PageRank of '1'.
The PageRank of a particular site has value. Advertisers consider it when calculating market share and market penetration. Publishers use it to determine advertising rates. Google probably uses it to filter and order the results from a web search.
In general, a PageRank value derives from the number and quality of external sites that link to the site in question. The Google PageRank algorithm rewards a site for being 'liked' by other sites. This strategy prevents (hopefully) a site from pumping up its' own ranking. Generally, a site cannot control the quality and quantity of sites that link to it. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services offer methodologies for improving the results of the PageRank calculation.
Given the results of our research, a PageRank of 7 could possibly nudge an appropriate site to the top of the non-sponsored search results. Not just any site with a 7 PageRank makes the cut; the site would also need keyword and content matches in alignment with our search phrase, free coupons. Appropriate keywords and content are issues that can be addressed on the site. PageRank cannot be directly controlled by manipulating the keywords and content of the site.
By comparison, http://www.hubpages.com has earned a PageRank of 6. HubPages ranks higher or as high as every site in our (small) sample set.
Google.com earns a PageRank of 10. Yahoo.com comes in at '9'.