Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Most Important HBCUs ... to Google

How important is your HBCU? Of course your HBCU is very important to you ... but how important is it to anyone else? To prospective students? To government agencies looking for potential contractors? To foundations seeking worthy recipients for donations?

In today's Web-wired, knowledge-based, global economy the question must be rephrased as "How important does your HBCU's website seem to be for people who are searching for a college or a university?" ... and when you say "searching for" in 2012 the question becomes, "How important is  the homepage of your HBCU's website to Google?" because Google has more than an 80 percent share of the global market for search services. (See the August 2012 report from Search Engine Market Share for an estimate of Google's global market share)

A. PageRanks
Google measures the importance of a webpage by its PageRank (note the  capitalization). PageRanks range from zero to 10 and are calculated by complex algorithms that are some of Google's best kept trade secrets.

PageRanks are important because the lists that Google's search algorithms return will place webpages having higher PageRanks on earlier pages than webpages with lower PageRanks. For example, if the homepage of the University of ABC has PageRank = 9 and  the homepage of the University XYZ has PagerRank = 1, then when users search for the words "HBCU research biomedical" the results that Google returns will probably show the University of ABC far ahead of the University of XYZ. Indeed the University of ABC will surely be in the top 10 on the first page; whereas the University of XYZ may not show up until a much later page.

The crucial point is that most people make their selections from the the links listed on the first or  second pages that are returned when they search. So the closer the link to a homepage is to the first page returned, the more visitors are likely to see and click that link.
  • The PageRank of a webpage reflects the number of other webpages that have links to it, i.e., the number of backlinks. This "crowd sourcing" is based on Google's plausible assumption that Webmasters will place links on their webpages to the "best" Websites they are aware of for any subject.
     
  • But PageRanks are not just popularity contests. Google modifies the PageRank it assigns to each webpage to reflect the page's position in the social network of webpages. A page will receive a higher PageRank if Google finds that other pages having high PageRanks contain links to it.

    In other words, webpages are like guests at a Google party. One way to measure the importance of a each guest is by the total number of other guests who link to it ... but a homepage obviously merits a higher ranking if the homepage of the White House website or the New York Times links to it ... assuming that the White House and New York Times homepages are popular enough to merit high PageRanks.
     
  • PageRanks change. Google recalibrates the PageRanks that it assigns to all webpages from time to time, including its own.
     
  • Although Google no longer includes a PageRank checker on its toolbar for most browsers, anyone can discover the PageRank of any webpage at any time. I suggest that readers search for  "free multiple PageRank" then try a few of the applications whose links appear on the first page. (For example,  http://nfriedly.com/pagerank will enables lookups of 10 PageRanks at a time ... but the free download from Connity Software at http://www.conity.net/multiple-page-rank-checker.shtml is much more powerful )
How can Webmasters increase the PageRank of their homepages? Google's Ranking page gives the following succinct advice that's absolutely true, but not very useful:
"In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages."
Google's Webmaster Guidelines are more specific, but they focus on improving a website's  format. By contrast, readers of recent entries on this blog will not be surprised by my judgment that  HBCU Webmasters will attract far more backlinks from other websites with higher PageRanks if they improve the the content of their websites by including more of their HBCU's success stories. (For a full discussion of this strategy, see "Telling HBCU Success Stories")

B. PageRanks of Some Important Websites
Readers who have slogged this far into this wonkish essay probably want to know which HBCU homepages have the highest PageRanks; nevertheless it's instructive to first consider the PageRanks of some other prominent homepages in order to put the HBCU PageRanks into proper perspective. Most of the high PageRanks in Table 1 (below) were assigned to well-known, tech-savvy organizations, but a few rankings took me by surprise:
  • Twitter ... PageRank = 10
    Twitter's position at the top of the heap surprised me because this means that Google thinks that Twitter's Home Page is now more important than its own because Google's Home Page only only received a 9. By contrast, in my previous reports about HBCU PageRanks, I noted that Google gave itself a 10 ... of course. The current supremacy of Twitter suggests that HBCU Webmasters should use cleverly worded, timely tweets to drive more visitors to their Websites ... :-)
     
  • Health & Human Services ... PageRank = 10
    Is this a cyber indicator of the increasing dependence of larger segments of the population on government services? ... :-(
     
  • Elite University Rankings
    None of the most elite American universities received PageRank = 10 ... hmmmmmm
 
Table 1. PageRanks of the Home Pages of Some Important Organizations

Type
Organization
HomePage URL
PageRank
Web Infrastructure



Twitter
http://www.twitter.com
10

Google
http://www.google.com
9

W3C
http://www.w3.org/
9

Firefox
http://www.firefox.com
9

Yahoo!
http://www.yahoo.com
9

Facebook
http://www.facebook.com
9

LinkedIn
http://www.linkedin.com
9

Gmail
http://www.gmail.com
9

Microsoft
http://www.microsoft.com
8

Hotmail
http://www.hotmail.com
8




eCommerce



Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com
8

Paypal
http://www.paypal.com
8

eBay
http://www.ebay.com
7




Hardware/Software/Services



Apple
http://www.apple.com
9

Hewlett-Packard
http://www.hewlett-packard.com
9

IBM
http://www.ibm.com
8

Cisco
http://www.cisco.com
8

Oracle
http://www.oracle.com
8

Dell
http://www.dell.com
8

Linux
http://www.linux.com
7




News




New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com
9

Bloomberg News
http://www.bloomberg.com
8

Wall Street Journal
http://www.wsj.com
8




Government



U..S. Department of Health & Human Services
http://www.hhs.gov
10

National Science Foundation
http://www.nsf.com
9

The White House
http://www.whitehouse.gov
9

U.S. Department of Defense
http://www.dod.gov
8

U.S. Department of Education
http://www.ed.gov
8




Universities



M.I.T.
http://www.mit.edu
9

California Institute of Technology
http://www.caltech.edu
9

Harvard University
http://www.harvard.edu
8

Yale University
http://www.yale.edu
8

Unversity of Michigan
http://www.umich.edu
8

University of Pennsylvania
http://www.upenn.edu/
8

Stanford University
http://www.stanford.edu
8

UCLA
http://www.ucla.edu
8

DeVry University
http://www.devry.edu
6

University of Phoenix
http://www.phoenix.edu
6


C. PageRanks of the HBCU Home Pages ... Saturday 9/22/12
The PageRanks of the 105 HBCUs are displayed in Table 2 (below). Interested readers might check out my previous reports on HBCU PageRanks to see which ones moved up or down (October 2006 and January 2009). A few patterns in Table 2 are worth noting:
  • No HBCUs received PageRank = 8, 9, or 10
  • 9 HBCUs received PageRank = 7 (including three public HBCUs from North Carolina and two private HBCUs from Georgia) ... the same as eBay and Linux (see Table 1, above)
  • 77 HBCUs received PageRank = 6 ... the same as the for-profit University of Phoenix and DeVry University (see Table 1, above)
  • 18 HBCUs received PageRank = 4 or 5 ... most of these HBCUs are two year institutions
  • One HBCU was not assigned a PageRank ... possibly because of network connection problems when Google was scanning the Websites, or perhaps the HBCU changed its URL during a recent upgrade 
  
Table 2. PageRanks of HBCU Home Pages ... on 9/22/12
HBCUs
PageRanks
 Elizabeth City State University (NC)
7
 Florida A&M University (FL)
7
 Howard University (DC)
7
 Morehouse College (GA)
7
 Morgan State University (MD)
7
 North Carolina A&T State University (NC)
7
 North Carolina Central University (NC)
7
 Prairie View A&M University (TX)
7
 Spelman College (GA)
7


 Alabama A&M University (AL)
6
 Alabama State University (AL)
6
 Albany State University (GA)
6
 Alcorn State University (MS)
6
 Allen University (SC)
6
 Barber-Scotia College (NC)
6
 Benedict College (SC)
6
 Bennett College (NC)
6
 Bethune-Cookman University (FL)
6
 Bluefield State College (WV)
6
 Bowie State University (MD)
6
 Central State University (OH)
6
 Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (PA)
6
 Claflin University (SC)
6
 Clark Atlanta University (GA)
6
 Concordia College Selma (AL)
6
 Coppin State University (MD)
6
 Delaware State University (DE)
6
 Dillard University (LA)
6
 Edward Waters College (FL)
6
 Fayetteville State University (NC)
6
 Fisk University (TN)
6
 Florida Memorial University (FL)
6
 Fort Valley State University (GA)
6
 Grambling State University (LA)
6
 Hampton University (VA)
6
 Harris-Stowe State University (MO)
6
 Hinds Community College, Utica (MS)
6
 Huston-Tillotson University (TX)
6
 Interdenominational Theological Center (GA)
6
 Jackson State University (MS)
6
 Jarvis Christian College (TX)
6
 Johnson C  Smith University NC)
6
 Kentucky State University (KY)
6
 Knoxville College (TN)
6
 Lane College (TN)
6
 LeMoyne-Owen College (TN)
6
 Lincoln University, MO (MO)
6
 Lincoln University, PA (PA)
6
 Livingstone College (NC)
6
 Meharry Medical College (TN)
6
 Miles College (AL)
6
 Mississippi Valley State University (MS)
6
 Morehouse School of Medicine (GA)
6
 Morris Brown College (GA)
6
 Norfolk State University (VA)
6
 Oakwood University (AL)
6
 Paine College (GA)
6
 Paul Quinn College (TX)
6
 Philander Smith College (AR)
6
 Rust College (MS)
6
 Saint Augustine's University (NC)
6
 Saint Paul's College (VA)
6
 Savannah State University (GA)
6
 Shaw University (NC)
6
 Shelton State Community College-Fredd Campus (AL)
6
 South Carolina State University (SC)
6
 Southern University A&M College (LA)
6
 Southern University at New Orleans (LA)
6
 Southwestern Christian College (TX)
6
 Stillman College (AL)
6
 Tennessee State University (TN)
6
 Texas College (TX)
6
 Texas Southern University (TX)
6
 Tougaloo College (MS)
6
 Tuskegee University (AL)
6
 University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (AR)
6
 University of Maryland Eastern Shore (MD)
6
 University of the District of Columbia (DC)
6
 University of the Virgin Islands (VI)
6
 Virginia State University (VA)
6
 Virginia Union University (VA)
6
 West Virginia State University (WV)
6
 Wilberforce University (OH)
6
 Wiley College (TX)
6
 Winston-Salem State University (NC)
6
 Xavier University of Louisiana (LA)
6


 Arkansas Baptist College (AR)
5
 Bishop State Community College, Main Campus (AL)
5
 Coahoma Community College (MS)
5
 Clinton Junior College (SC)
5
 Denmark Technical College (SC)
5
 Gadsden State Community College (AL)
5
 J. F. Drake State Technical College (AL)
5
 Lawson State Community College (AL)
5
 Lewis College of Business (MI)
5
 Morris College (SC)
5
 Southern University at Shreveport (LA)
5
 St Philip's College (TX)
5
 Talladega College (AL)
5
 Trenholm State Technical College (AL)
5
 Virginia University of Lynchburg (VA)
5
 Voorhees College (SC)
5


 Selma University (AL)
4
 Shorter College (AR)
4


 Langston University (OK)
n/a

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Related Notes: