SEO – PageRank versus TrustRank

One year I visited a county fair, it wasn’t one of your fly-by-night county fairs but a big festival, roller coasters, ghost trains, show bags; The works! It easily cleared a million people per day and was a great opportunity for the local businesses to come out and show their stuff. One of the local finance businesses had a really nice stall, white and blue plastic canvas over a caravan like frame, it had a clear plastic window, and smartly-dressed staff taking details of potential customers outside. After each person signed their name they would take them in the large enclosed pavilion tent to a nice little leather couch with air conditioning, serving tea and coffee, as they waited for a consultation. I think most of the parents were there just to rest their feet while their kids were in the play room. It was very professional. I stood outside looking at it wondering if I should go in and enjoy that sweet sweet air conditioning, even if I didn’t need any accountancy work at the time, maybe I could make something up, after all everyone inside looked so relaxed. But that isn’t why I remembered this moment.

The reason why I remember this time is because right next door was another company, a gaudy accountancy agency stall, bright yellow, with wacky waving tube men, girls in tiny shorts and tight tops handing out frisbees and at one point a guy in underwear and a cape came out yelling about how they can make free money if they sign up with them. People were taking pictures out the front of this one but no one was actually going in.

I didn’t go into either that day but it did stick with me as an example of polar opposites of advertising, one selling professionalism and trust and the other selling spectacle. Which got my attention and which got my trust?

What is PageRank?

When Google first started as a search engine (originally called ‘Backrub’) it was based on one algorithm, how many links does a page have leading to it? It was theorised if you trust a site, you’d link to it as a source. Makes sense. It gave a score out of ten, with the higher the score, the higher you are in the Google Search rankings. This is what is known as PageRank. Strangely enough, the term PageRank has nothing to do with webpages, but is actually named after one of the Google founders Larry Page. Now you know and knowing is half the battle.

But like that gaudy yellow accountancy stall at the county fair, it became abundantly clear attention does not equal trust. Many ‘Link Farms’ grew out of this concept allowing you to buy links to raise your search ranking for particular keywords. If this continued it would be sure to be the end of Google as a trusted search engine. This is why Google demoted the use of PageRank as just one of the many factors in an ever growing, and secret, algorithm to establish it’s search ranking.

Welcome the TrustRank.

Remember that professional looking stall at the county fair, it sure looked nice, but honestly they weren’t going to get a lot of high paying clients from it. They pampered them, they spoke with them about their goals but amongst it all they started the relationship of trust. Only the start. Over many years of giving out good advice and good service, with a bit of luck, they would of grown a client base and a reputation, leading to more clients and eventually working with established corporations. This is the principle of TrustRank. Trust starts out small and grows over time. It requires constant effort and relies heavily on netting those big fish at the end to give you a big thumbs up.

TrustRank, much like PageRank, also is a link tracking algorithm developed by Yahoo! and Standford Engineers and adopted by Google that not only takes into account how many sites link to a web page but also by their quality, or reputation, of those web pages with backlinks to you. Trusted authorities with high trust rankings are usually large government websites, universities, research centres and corporations, but also other sites that have built up their trust rank over time by providing quality and consistent content, that relates to the keywords users search for. The ongoing goal of building TrustRank is to get linked to by one or more of these highly trusted sites and move up the Google search rankings.

How do you know the trust rank of a site?

Short answer, you don’t. Long answer, You don’t, no one does, it’s a secret. Google and other search engines have to keep this information secret to prevent the repeat of rising shady (black hat) marketing practices. But there are some ways of guessing;

  • Does the site look professional?
  • Do they have a lot of ads (the more ads the less trustworthy it may be)?
  • Do they have a reliable Top Level Domain (TLD), such as .gov, .edu or .org?
  • Do they score high on organic (non-paid) search rankings for competitive keywords?
  • Do they have a good reputation outside of the Internet?
  • Are they linked to other known trusted sites? (you can figure this out with some advanced search engine tools or general research).
It takes time and commitment to grow trust.

One of the biggest problems that many companies fail to understand about rising to page one of the google search ranking is that it takes time, and commitment. Not days, not weeks, but months if not years! It’s understandable for the impatience, they want return on investment, and the quicker the better. However, it is impossible to rise to the top of a Google search rank organically on your first day of going live. Trust needs to be earned not bought. This is where you should ask where your company wants to be in five or ten years? Do you want to be the place where people turn to when searching for advice, or do you want to be yelling out front of a tent in your underwear and a cape?

Why I am studying the Udacity Front-End Web Developer Nanodegree.

Man studying on laptop

How smart are you? Do you feel like you are an imposter in your company or industry? Are you still faking it ’til you make it?

Our perceptions of our own intelligence and skills can be our greatest vulnerability, and a lot of that is deeply tied to our education level. Which is why education seems to be one of the most important stepping stones in life and also the reason why it is getting so expensive. The debts in which students acquire through traditional university education is forcing the more savvy amongst us to seek out alternative training paths. It may not be the same as the traditional path and may require more moxy and resilience but may just be worth it in the end.

The most prominent alternative to university is online learning. There are many forms of online learning, especially in IT, and can range from reference sheets, blogs and tutorials found on common websites, social platforms such as the endless array of tutorials on YouTube (Harvard does a great computer science series at CS50), to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) such as edx which provide free or cheap tutorials that guide you through a subject like lectures at school. These are all great to use and will become a staple for life long learners, but they do lack one important thing for job recruiters. Accountability.

How does an employer know that the skills that you have acquired through online learning are up to industry standard? You could make projects and show your findings in any number of ways (and I encourage that you do that) but it still lacks the industry verification that traditional learning provides and HR teams crave. The next step up from MOOCs are boot camps which are intensive training programs that are supposed to take the student from novice to job ready within a few weeks. They are often created by skilled course developers with deep ties to the industry and the student must attend classes every day (usually physically there, not online) and they have on-site and real-time assistance from tutors. Similar to TAFE but more focussed and a lot more expensive (TAFE is the Australian government-backed equivalent of community college).

Recently, I have been looking at the job market and found that to get a good job you really need to have that extra ‘thing’ that makes you stand out amongst the pack.  Something that says not only do you love, and are committed to, what you do but also guided properly to jump into the workforce and ready to start contributing right away. I gave a thorough look at coding bootcamps (namely General Assembly), the project work of the courses are very good, reviews are great, they had a loan plan that I could safely afford for the short term. I had my finger on the button ready to sign my life away for 12 weeks of gruelling finger-breaking coding hell (and probably loving every second of it). But then I pulled my finger off the button. AU$15K is a lot of money, even if they do help with finding a job.

Is there another way?

An alternative I found is something called a Nanodegree offered by Udacity. The Nanodegree is like an online boot camp. It may not have the physical location that you can attend (and perhaps the motivation that a physical classroom provides) but it does develop their courses with companies such as Google and AT&T to ensure the right things are taught and in the correct order. It has a job assistance program and job network as well as having a structured learning approach that is similar to the bootcamps (set lessons, tests and project assignments). The reviews are great and the projects do reflect a level of understanding of the subjects that could gain a junior position. The projects are the same for everyone, so if I get stuck I can ask for help from other students or book time with one-on-one sessions with tutors. I can even add my own flair and expand upon the projects if I wish. It’s still expensive (AU$1,300) but much more manageable than the full commitment of the bootcamp.

So over the next four months I will be doing the Udacity Nano-degree for Front-End Web development and will share my perspective, struggles and what I actually learn as I go through it. Whether I successfully complete it (I hope) or not, you should be able to gain some insight and determine for yourself if this may be the right path for you.

Andrew Lim – Season 2 starts 1st December

First of all I am fully aware of the concept of “Don’t tell anyone your goals”, and if you do there is an increased likelihood that you won’t achieve them. However, having said that, part of what I want to do requires me having to do just that.

Last week I had a few interviews, I noticed a common theme amongst them (I won’t go into detail about that today). This commonality led me to make the jump into doing a full time web development bootcamp. I looked at a few and basically in Sydney it came down to two, Coder Academy and General Assembly (GA). Both bootcamps run roughly 12 weeks, full time, and cost $15,000 to do. I know both of these companies by reputation and both have outstanding recommendations amongst those who do it. I reviewed previous students work, most were okay with a few outstanding ones. The choice was simple, Coder Academy doesn’t start until February and General Assembly starts next week. So I rang them up, asked about their financing plan ($1.5K down with a loan through a credible loan shark once you get a job). All good, I’m excited, sign me up.

Over the weekend I was talking this over with my girlfriend and she was encouraging but knew that the money is something that would hang over me, and said that I should give it some more thought (but supportive no matter what I did). She also gave me some cookies. She’s the best!
So I again went over previous students reviews, previous gitHub projects, looking at their code and figuring out if their level of expertise is worth $15K. For the outstanding ones, it was. Then I reviewed their backgrounds on LinkedIn, most were designers or had a lot of previous coding experience. Hmmm.

One thing I am very good at is making plans. I can research the hell out of something and make a plan that covers every facet of what needs to be covered. The pros, the cons. I SWOT the hell out of it. However, executing is a little different because, well…

And low and behold, I already had a plan that has been sitting next to me for months. It details everything I need to learn, but at the end it said take this course, but don’t do it until the end because it is too expensive. The Google Front-End Developer NanoDegree course is $1300. Four months. Yes pretty expensive but compared to $15K it now seems like I am cheating the system. I did my due diligence, looked at previous students work, They are all the same, but they are definitely more focussed on helping to get work than GA, they provide a lot less support because they are online, but do have 1-on-1 support if you book. And I emailed the coordinator and they have said that they have a career development network in Australia, which is part of the course fee. Basically the additional $13,700 that GA provides is standing over you with a big stick (metaphorically speaking… I hope).

So. There you have it, as of 1st of December I will be doing an intensive 4-month training course in Web Dev with Google. What I found difficult when I was researching was the amount of information about the course is lacking from a students point of view, so that will be the shape of where this blog will go. I also plan to post on LinkedIn (There is a reason for that).

So knowing my goals, don’t jump to the conclusion that I will be an expert in four months, but just that I will be a student writing student blogs about student things.

In other news, I totally failed in my first week of waking up at 5.30am… Byeeeee.








PS – I actually am not enrolling for this until the weekend. There are few reasons, I found a scholarship that AT&T provides for this course and applied, I am waiting to see if Black Friday has an effect on the price (Previously there was a discount) and also if one of the jobs I applied for accepts my proposal (which I don’t think they will) then I may have to reconsider.

Good Samaritans still exist

Jump to fourth paragraph for the sinister NRMA conspiracy.

Today was an interesting day and all before 9am. I woke up at 5.30am today again (yay me!) but then I watched a bit of the news in bed and then promptly fell asleep (I suck!). But actually it was a good thing, because my sister rang me  and I would of been too far away from home to help her. Her car had a flat tire but luckily she parked at the local shops. She asked me to take her home to pick up the kids and take her hubby to the bus stop (He was walking home in hopes to look after the kids).

So I jumped in the car and picked her up, dropped off her kids and hubby at the bus stop and helped her change her tire (Yay me again!)… Unfortunately it has been well over two decades since Ive had to change a tire. I knew what to do, just couldn’t get those damn lug nuts loosened. I was pushing the tire iron, kicked it, hit it with a wrench. just couldn’t do it. My sister said, well they tighten those with a machine now, and I was thinking…hmm I guess so. Luckily a really nice road service worker (thanks Paul) saw us, and in two seconds pulled on the lug nuts and they came right off. Nothing feels worse than thinking you cant do something and someone comes in and does it right away with no effort. But we were extremely grateful to him. I learnt two things. I’ve got to hit the gym more and I think I need to take a car servicing course (I could just watch a youtube video, but nah, better do it right).

Here is the sinister part.

Before my sister called me, she called the NRMA. She has paid for road side assistance for four years. What she didn’t know is that in order to actually get road side assistance when you want it, you have to activate it on the website. She just thought you pay for it and you get it, sensible, right?

If you don’t activate it you have to wait 48 hours before you can get roadside assistance or pay $99 for them to come out.

Have you activated your NRMA roadside assistance?

In other news I also discovered that if you set up a word press blog within 24 hours you will be hit by tons of spam comments. So in order to stop that you have to download a plugin called ‘stop spammers’. So I did.

Well today I am going to practice making responsive emails as part of my prep for tomorrow. Its easy to do, Its just been a while.

So thanks to Paul for fixing my sisters tire and I promise to fully get up at 5.30am tomorrow (and that’s a big boy promise – no backsies).

Did you know there is an AM?

Ive been trialling waking up earlier in the morning. My second time waking up at 5.30 am. My aim is to finally wake up at 4.30am but thought I would take it slow. It is pretty good because it is quite sunny at that time and the traffic is light.

I walk to the gym, then sit for a moment, I might do some gym stuff. Then walk home again while eating an apple. Im hoping in future this will wake me up more, but today I just felt like going straight back to bed.

Finished off another chapter of my TAFE course. still a long way to go but finally knocking it off. I might hold off doing my tests until Friday though.

Also got a follow up job interview on Thursday. The company seems really nice. This time it is three interviews followed by a quiz :S

If you don’t hear from me it may be because I am in a sugar coma because of all the consolatory McFlurrys I will consume.

My first blog post

Okay. keyboard ready, fingers all flexed.


This is my first blog post. I have yet to decide what I will use this for, but to keep consistent with what the book I am reading says, I should try to post every day (If I don’t have a topic, just use it as a diary).

To be extra annoying it says to post to social media so that the whole world can know how boring I am.

Today I tried waking up at 5.30am and immediately went for a 1.5km walk to the gym. Where today was leg day. I hated it because Pennant Hills Road is doing construction and so now to get there I have to walk up a huge flight of stairs. Just thinking about it makes me want to stay in bed tomorrow. But goal achieved, high-fives to me.

Followed up with a bit of Digital Marketing study at TAFE, had lunch at Rashay’s where I planned my week. My pants were promptly picked up from the tailors after that and because I am going to a swanky Opera Gala on Friday with my BAE (which I think stands for Best Anti-Ex (meaning they’re not your ex)) I bought a black tie. Followed up by applying for a few jobs and all in all, a good day.

Oh also I bought this awesome street fighter lego video game box!!!
No reason. It was just the right thing to do.