Thursday, March 15, 2007

When Larry met Larry: Apex, Google and the Web Page Ranking Flying Circus

On one of my PCs i have internet explorer 7 installed along with the Google tool bar.
One of the gadgets provided by this tool is the page ranking meter.
Google is not the only company providing such statistics but certainly it's the most revered.

If i hover with the mouse pointer on this meter while visiting the home page of oraclequirks, i see that Google is reporting a page ranking of 3/10.
Not too bad, but there is room for improvement, i guess.

Funnily enough, the mother of all sites of oracle developers,, an oracle application express application actually, is ranked 0/10.

How can it be?

I mean, there is certainly something wrong going on somewhere, i am getting 1/100 of the daily visits compared to AskTom and probably 1/10 of his wage.
Well or at least so i am told. :-D

Another "andante" says that page ranking is also affected by the importance of the sites linking into yours.
Well, i find very hard to believe that oraclequirks is being linked into by higher ranking sites than asktom does.

Actually there are a couple of complementary reasons explaining this odd situation:
  1. Oracle Application Express URLs are not Google friendly.
  2. Google did not develop a page ranking technology that takes into account the problems inherent to the latest technologies or, better said, they don't like session stuff in URLs.
Now, from a developer's perspective this is quite bad, if you are considering page ranking an important success factor for your application.
On the other hand, it's also a good demonstration of how misleading are certain "statistics" about which sites drive the most traffic.

Personally, i tend to ignore #2 in many cases.

I mean, i find so powerful the Oracle Application Express framework that, frankly speaking, let me quote Captain Rhett Butler here, i don't give a damn as to what currently is the web page ranking of my sites.

But there is a but.
Page ranking does play an important role in the order of appearance of hits in a web search.
Given the same content, a higher ranking page will be moved up in the hit list.
And the higher the site is positioned in the returned matches, the more likely is that a user will visit your site.

If the ranking is low because of this "technological gap", then apex developers must be very good at picking the right keywords and arrange them with the rest of the page content, because that is what will let the site emerge from the rubbish, no matter what its page ranking currently is.

So, now you know what to do while waiting for the big event i mentioned in the title of this topic:
when Larry E. met Larry P. (and Sergei B. as well i suppose) and they finally settled this apex web page ranking issue over a pint of beer, a glass of wine, a can of coke or a bottle of still mineral water, that's not the point ;-)


UPDATED 26th of March 2007:

It turns out that Larry E. "won the rush". Oracle Application Express version 3.0 has just been released and it promises to be more Google friendly as it implements a special session handling for public pages exactly as needed.
Thanks for listening Larry! ;-)

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