BrowseRank – Microsoft’s Answer to PageRank

Microsoft announced today that they’ve discovered a better way to rank web pages. While Google’s PageRank sorts roughly on the number of incoming links that point to a page, a vote of confidence by bloggers and website editors, Microsoft’s BrowseRank looks at browsing behavior to see which links get more clicks.

Sounds good on the surface. More democratic because it looks at the entire browsing population, right?

The more visits of the page made by the users and the longer time periods spent by the users on the page, the more likely the page is important. We can leverage hundreds of millions of users’ implicit voting on page importance

Not so fast. Andy Beal points out the obvious shortcomings:

“More visits?” – sure, spammers will have no idea how to inflate that metric.

“Longer time periods?” – couldn’t that also mean that your web site usability and navigation just sucks?

I would add a third. For this to work it requires that Microsoft know each and every link that you visit. I don’t know about you but there has to be a pretty good personal benefit for me to let Microsoft peer over my shoulder and take notes on every site I visit. Maybe they’ll just pay people. But as with Live Search cashback, that’s just going to attract the wrong audience and skew your biases.

Pay-per-Click Marketing comes to Television

Tivo and Amazon have teamed up in a partnership that anyone following the two could have seen coming. It will soon be possible to click your Tivo remote and order items like the latest album from the musical guest on the David Letterman show.

The concept of using your remote to purchase stuff you see on TV is an old one but it’s never taken off.  This time, based on the success of Amazon’s one-click fulfillment platform (including the ingenious mobile version), it might just succeed. They just need to get more than 4 million Tivos into US homes.

Current Events

Gnip is Ping spelled backward

Congratulations to Eric, Jud, and the crew on the launch of their new service, Gnip. MyBlogLog has been using Gnip for a few weeks now and we’re pleased with what we see. Submit and item to Digg and it’ll move your update to the top of our polling queue and you’ll see your updates on MyBlogLog within a minute or so.

Even more exciting is that Gnip solves the infrastructure problem that each member of the social media ecosystem has struggled to resolve. How to get updates out to their partners and how these partners can read them in efficiently.  With this and other common problems out of the way, we can all focus on high-order benefits. From the Gnip blog:

We’re incredibly excited by the bounty that Web 2.0 has created. We are living with an embarrassment of riches in terms of shared information and experiences. But it’s overwhelming. I personally believe that Web 3.0 will herald a return to the individual — story, picture, friend, experience — because in aggregate, that which has great meaning often becomes meaningless. So it’s up to these awesome new services to take the Web 2.0 bounty and find for each of us those few things that will fundamentally enhance our lives. To give us something meaningful.

Stop Building What Everyone Else is Building
Current Events

Google’s Flash-Eating Spider

This announcement is definitely cool and will open up whole new areas of the web to search. But truthfully I just wanted to post this because it lends itself to a great headline.

From the FAQ posted on the Google Webmaster Blog:

Q: What content can Google better index from these Flash files?
All of the text that users can see as they interact with your Flash file. If your website contains Flash, the textual content in your Flash files can be used when Google generates a snippet for your website. Also, the words that appear in your Flash files can be used to match query terms in Google searches.

In addition to finding and indexing the textual content in Flash files, we’re also discovering URLs that appear in Flash files, and feeding them into our crawling pipeline—just like we do with URLs that appear in non-Flash webpages. For example, if your Flash application contains links to pages inside your website, Google may now be better able to discover and crawl more of your website.