Posted: August 12th, 2008
Many people have heard of PageRank, which seeks to numerically value the importance of a webpage based on the quantity and quality of inbound links to, and outbound links from, a webpage. Microsoft researchers and developers have created a better (according to some) method of evaluating a page’s importance, dubbed “BrowseRank.” Rather than ranking based on links, BrowseRank assesses webpages according to human behaviour and interaction.
BrowseRank also differs from TrustRank (created by Yahoo) which is based on links. Our lexicon has more details regarding TrustRank.
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.
The two main factors that seem to determine BrowseRank is quantity as measured by pageviews, and quality as measured by time spent on a site. This statement by Microsoft researchers also allows us to both infer and confirm, that Microsoft is monitoring and tracking user behaviour within Live Search, and possibly beyond.
Initial gaming and manipulating of BrowseRank (for those who actually care) also seems possible even without a fleet of paid users visiting your website. Creating many webpages could theoretically improve one’s BrowseRank. Certain types of websites are also more susceptible to having higher BrowseRanks, such as image galleries, video websites, and online game websites. Hopefully these issues will be addressed in future iterations of the BrowseRank algorithm.
The Fallout of BrowseRank
The fallout of ranking systems such as BrowseRank to search engine optimization is that SEO and web development will continue to move in the direction of marketing to the user experience. Social media will continue to affect the importance of websites, and the accumulation of diggs, stumbles, reddits, and other social bookmarks will play a role in determining which websites are authoritative.