Review of Google’s PageRank and Beyond: The Science of Search Engine Rankings

On: September 14, 2008
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About Bram Nijhof
Bram Nijhof is a master student of New Media at the University of Amsterdam. He has a bachelor degree in Art & Technology and a bachelor degree in Media & Culture with an expertise in New Media.


The book Google’s PageRank and Beyond: The science of search engine rankings is about the technology behind the ranking of websites, especially Google’s ranking. It will give a little insight in how the Google algorithm works. In the abstract the authors says that the book serves two different audiences: the curious science reader and the technical computational reader. With my humanities background I belong to the first group. If you don’t belong to the technical group you’ll have to skip parts of the book. That’s a pity, because the book will be shortened. But in the book there are lots of interesting facts and stories.

The book is giving insight in how a search engine works. It is crawling and indexing in a continuing process. For people who want to know more about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) the book is also suitable. It is not a guide for optimization of websites but you’ll learn about the background of the search engine works. PageRank, where Google’s search engine is based on, works in short that the more sites links to your site, the more important your site will be. And the more important their sites are the more important your site is. It is a recommendation system. Spammers misused it but Google nowadays nows better how to deal with them.

The book also presents alternative algorithms like HITS. It will let you think about an alternative way that a search engine can work. Is the PageRank system the best algorithm? Isn’t there a better system with more democracy maybe? I think there is a chance that Google will change its algorithm where the engine is more spam resistant.

What I liked in the book where the stories in italic font. These stories where events of the past. Example stories where about censorship in China or Google cookies. About Google saving cookies the authors where critical about it. Google exists from saving peoples personal data. Like there can be another algorithm there could also be a search engine with more privacy.

I liked the glossary at the end of the book. Concepts are well explained there. I can’t review the technical part of the book because I am not that technical, but a large part of the book is mathematical stuff. What I missed in the book was a conclusion. It was mainly fragmented in little parts.

Langville, A. N, C. D. Meyer. Google’s PageRank and Beyond: The science of search engine rankings. Princeton University Press: 2006.

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