Monday, June 11, 2012

Google 'Royal Enfield Motorcycles' to find this blog

Royal Enfield Motorcycles is at
Google "Royal Enfield Motorcycles" (the name of this blog) and it will show up fairly high in the results. At the very top of the Google search results will be Royal Enfield USA and the Royal Enfield factory in India. That is as it should be.

But now Google just "Royal Enfield". The factory and Royal Enfield USA remain at the top but good luck finding my poor little blog — it's now on Page 8 of search results. It shows up after the listing for Royal Enfield Fort Worth, a dealer in Texas.

Does it matter? Not if you've already found this blog or you live in Fort Worth. But potential new users are unlikely to come across my blog in Google search results.

Google ranks web sites in ways mostly known only to itself but one public measure is PageRank (one word). This does not correspond to exactly what page on which the site shows up, but it has something to do with how high it is listed.

PageRank, incidentally, is not named for a web "page." It's named for Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, who invented this ranking method. While Google has sought to diminish the attention paid to PageRank in recent years, it remains a tempting way for amateurs like me to keep score.

PageRank is scored 1 to 10, with a higher number being better. Google itself is a 9. The New York Times is a 9. Royal Enfield in India is a 6. Royal Enfield USA is a 4. For a time my blog was a 3, but it has now been downgraded to a 2.

Why? I don't know. Google is thought to have "punished" some kinds of websites whose practices — they're called "content farms" — it dislikes. Perhaps I got caught up in that.

Google apparently also wanted to put the really substantial, official sources of information at the top of its search results. And it seems to have succeeded. On the first page of search results now are Wikipedia, Watsonian-Squire, and the Royal Enfield Owners Club.

Bit players like me are forced down in the results. That is unhappy for me, but I am not alone.

Down here in the basement (on Page 6) is the website of Hitchcocks, perhaps the most important source of the knowledge, reproductions parts and service that fuel restorations of historic Royal Enfield motorcycles around the world.

Hitchcocks website, which includes a full online catalog of parts, a message board, news items, technical notes, photo gallery and more, obtains only a PageRank of 2 — no better than my one-horse blog.

Perhaps Google's math is still not perfect. I hope one day the search engine will reconsider the value of my own contribution to news and information about Royal Enfield motorcycles.

Meanwhile, if you're looking for this blog, Google "Royal Enfield Motorcycles" or bookmark it, or just memorize

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