Mike Lauher at Junk Drawer sent me an email about this earlier, seems like an interesting problem with Google’s Link Popularity.
How can a Real Estate Company in Ann Arbor Michigan place in the top ten of a Google search on the term “Directory”? (a search with 230 million returns)
The answer is simple… acquire a domain previously held by a defunct search engine/directory.
Magellan, purchased by Excite, no longer exists. But the domain lives on. Beyond that, all the links pointing to the domain also live on because links once given have an extrordinarily long life.
That is the fundamental flaw with link popularity.
If links are “votes” that indicate the relevance and importance of web pages, then what happens when “votes” are bought? What happens when the site they were pointing to no longer exists in the form when the link was created?
If sites that were once productive, but now are reduced to urls that can be sold to the highest bidder, what does that mean for “link popularity”? We know what happens when money dominates politics… evil happens. Will the same now be true on the internet? Is relevance now just a function of how much money you have?
As the internet matures and no weight is given to the “age” of a link, those people who control urls that were once giants, control search engines that rely on link popularity. Those people who can purchase links, control search engines that rely on link popularity.
Buying votes produces a flawed political system. Does buying links produce flawed search engine returns?
Are the days of “Link Popularity” as a meaningful measure of relevance numbered?