Web 2.0 Summit: Google Link Love Feeds Search And Online Fame - InformationWeek

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Commentary
10/17/2007
02:45 PM
Pete Spande
Pete Spande
Commentary
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Web 2.0 Summit: Google Link Love Feeds Search And Online Fame

The Web 2.0 Summit hasn't really started and I've already made so many star sightings. If you build Web businesses, you know these people. These people are the "A-listers" of the Web 2.0 world. The notion of fame in the Web 2.0 world is top of mind, and a strong showing at the event will jump-start a new business, reinforce or create fame for the founders. There is even a session focused on "The Future of Web Fame."

The Web 2.0 Summit hasn't really started and I've already made so many star sightings. If you build Web businesses, you know these people. These people are the "A-listers" of the Web 2.0 world. The notion of fame in the Web 2.0 world is top of mind, and a strong showing at the event will jump-start a new business, reinforce or create fame for the founders. There is even a session focused on "The Future of Web Fame."Fame in this environment is no different than in the broader business space, or Hollywood, or the sporting ranks. With one big exception: fame feeds the business' success by providing "Google love." Online leaders give and get huge amounts of "Google love" that helps fuel that fame. It may not be discussed as much as the business deals, disruptive technologies, or other elements of the Web 2.0 world, but "Google love" is driving much of the business.

Underlying all of this popularity is Google's innovative approach to search. Google's big innovation to the field of online search was PageRank. For those unfamiliar with PageRank, here is Google's description:

PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the Web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at considerably more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; for example, it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important." Using these and other factors, Google provides its views on pages' relative importance.

Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don't match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. Google goes far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines dozens of aspects of the page's content (and the content of the pages linking to it) to determine if it's a good match for your query.

An online "A-lister's" popularity is sustained and reinforced by the sites that endorse their work via referrals (links) to their work. It works like this:

-- A popular person or program (Lonely Girl 15, for instance) is "discovered." -- People like the program and point to it on their Web sites. -- The increase in referrals to Lonely Girl increases the status of the programs in Google's search index. -- As the program gains prominence with the search index, it is discovered by more searchers. -- The increased awareness in search prompts more people to point to the program.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

The A-Listers are in demand. Pitches happen in every corner of the summit in hopes that an investment or at least a link will result. If a company pitches Michael Arrington at popular blog site TechCrunch and he likes what they have to say, he will mention and link to their site in his blog. When that happens, readers of TechCrunch also will go to the site and many will link to it as well. Google is therefore re-evaluating my site in its index based on the increase of referrals from these sites with strong PageRank.

Enough strong referrals and you're an A-Lister yourself.

It may not be the sexiest part of the summit, but the presentation of a new idea to the crowd gathered at the event today will inevitably pay off with "Google love." And a possibly an angel investor or two.

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