Solving the Toolbar PR and Paid Links Crisis

There has been much consternation about how slow Google has been in exporting the new toolbar update. It’s now at the longest time interval since its inception. Webmasters and bloggers depend on this measure as part of their monetization process, the higher the PR, the more money you can make. There has also been a lot of talk about Google cracking down on paid links. Several well known bloggers have lost PR rank and it has been said that Google with remove the ability of offending sites to pass PR. Here are some off-the-cuff ideas I had about the situation.

Separate ‘Real’ PageRank or Trust from Toolbar PR

While the inner workings of Google are only partially known, it is fairly well known that the toolbar PR is a cloudy reflection of a real, more granular, value that Google uses to compute search results placement. Part of the problem Google has with paid links that pass rank is that it throws off their search result quality. The solution is to no longer use this internal value to drive the toolbar value.

Instead, just make it a straight-up number that’s easy for people to understand, such as the number of incoming links, RSS subscribers for blog sites (obviously through Google Reader and FeedBurner stats), search results clicks, site age and maybe a few other things based on type of site. Then they could just aggregate them into the 0-10 figure. In fact, I think they could do even better than just this simple measure.

Google Analytics to the Rescue

The Google Analytics system could provide even better metrics to advertisers and site owners alike. For example, lets say you wanted your campaign to target a certain demographic who lived in a particular location and searched on these keywords. Google could provide you with a list of sites that meet that criteria with details about their traffic and so forth. By using Analytics Google could become an even more effective broker of ads.

The hitch, for Google, is that such a move could bring down anti-trust complaints. To avoid this, they will have to be transparent about it, perhaps more than they would like, and they would have to keep it separate from their own AdWords sales. Of course, they could charge advertisers and site owners a broker’s fee. Being more certain of hitting a particular demographic would be worth a reasonable fee, don’t you think?


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