What's Rank? Search Engine Policies

PageRank capitalizes on the uniquely democratic characteristic of the web by using its vast link structure as an organizational tool. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. Google assesses a page's importance by the votes it receives. But Google looks at more than sheer volume of votes, or links; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important." Google's specious logic
The democratic metaphor is particularly inapplicable in the description Google makes of its "patented" PageRank hierarchization "feature." It equates capital with authority, since those with the most advertising and venture capital will undoubtedly generate lots of "votes" through online promotions and by employing teams of flunky marketers. Furthermore, it endorses the power of existing institutions who get a lot of visits because of they are already powerful in print or television: they can promote their web presence through their existing power base and Google endorses this as a sign of quality.

This is a long way from the nearly democratic quality of early robotic search engines like Altavista. That company has now changed its policy in several ways that make their bias about as bad as Google's. Altavista and others have begun selling key words. Realnames.com sells key words for $100 and has a formidable group of industry allies (investors?), including Microsoft.

Worldsubmit.com has made a business out of registering sites with all the search engines. For $89 (the "Best Value package") they'll submit your URL to 1550 search engines and Yahoo! -- 6 times. The submissions are spaced once each month for 6 months to protect your site from "the increasing risk of being accidentally dropped by the search engines due to Internet traffic doubling every 100 days!" They claim to include Alta Vista, AOL Netfind, Excite, HotBot, Infoseek, Lycos, Netscape, Northern Light and WebCrawler. It is interesting to note, however, that of these search engines, many are using the same underlying databases. Netsacpe, Alta Vista, and Lycos all make use of the Open Directory Project, a database maintained by a volunteer labor force. While Infoseek and go.com are both using the same Disney search database; HotBot and AOL Netfind use Inktomi's search services. Likewise WebCrawler doesn't maintain their own database, relying on the others mentioned. So the trend is clearly toward consolidation of power and exclusivity of access. The corporate portals continue on a path toward more exclusive pay-submission search databases (eg. www.mamma.com - the "mother of all search engines") to which the public cannot freely submit URLs.

LookSmart's quality navigation products, its advertising platform of desirable differentiated audiences, and the scale and flexibility of its distribution platform and deep content targeting capabilities combine to create a superior advertising infrastructure. Source
Last modified December 1999.