Free PageRank E-Book from Princeton


Staff member

Search marketing expert Bill Slawski (@bill_slawski) tweeted a link to a “book about PageRank” published by Princeton University. The book provides an overview of how search engines rank web page.

The information in the book is not up to date. However it provides a deep dive into PageRank that goes deeper than seen in most any other publication.
There are seven chapters and almost 100 pages devoted to mining the depths of what PageRank is about.

Aside from the focus on PageRank, the book provides a good overview of some basic and general factors related to how search engines crawl and rank web pages.

Seven Chapters About PageRank

The book offers nearly one hundred pages about how PageRank works, spanning across seven chapters.

Chapters include about the mathematics behind PageRank, the sensitivity of PageRank, parameters of PageRank, large-scale implementation issues and more.
This book is a gold mine if geeking out on PageRank is one of your passions.

How Search Engines Rank Web Pages

The book is published by Princeton University Press. It provides a comprehensive review of everything a competent search marketer needs to know about search engines.
The information contained in the book is about how search engines ranked web pages in the past. It does not discuss how search engines rank web pages today.

Nevertheless it’s important to understand many of the concepts discussed in the book because some of it remains relevant today.

According to the book:
“Our purpose in describing the many elements of the search process is twofold: first, it helps emphasize the focus of this book, which is the ranking part of the search process, and second, it shows how the ranking process fits into the grand scheme of search.”
I’ve been in SEO for twenty years and many of the ranking processes covered in the book are topics I am familiar with from when they were originally announced. This book presents an opportunity to rapidly understand an overview of how search engines ranked web pages, a general overview.

Topics Covered

The book begins with an introduction to search engines. In nine short pages it provides a history and background of information retrieval.
From there it moves on to crawling, a description of the different kinds of indexes a search engine uses and query processing.

Comprehensive Chapters About PageRank

This book covers almost everything about PageRank that is currently known. There are seven chapters and almost 100 pages that are devoted to the topic of PageRank.

Link Algorithms and Ranking

As previously mentioned, the information in this book is from many years ago. This is most noticeable in the link algorithms section.

The links and ranking chapters provide a background on link algorithms. It’s comprehensive in discussing what was studied in the past. This is useful for helping dispel myths about Google and how links are ranked today.

However, this book does not provide information about how links are ranked today.

Nevertheless, there’s value in understanding where link algorithms came from.

Glossary of Search Engine Words and Phrases

Lastly there’s a glossary of search engine related words and phrases.

Here’s a sample from the glossary:
a vertex in a graph; webpages are nodes in the web graph
occurs when a word has multiple meanings, e.g., bank
probabilistic model
a traditional information retrieval model that uses probability and
odds ratios to identify the relevance of documents to the query
any measure or model that is computed regardless of the query; one
measure that holds for all queries​
How Search Engines Ranked Web Pages

The information is not current. However the information is useful for gaining a general overview of search engines from which one can proceed to understanding how search engines rank websites today.