Mike Grehan, CEO and founder of Searchvisible has written much over the years about search engine algorithms. During 1997-1998, two most influential hyperlink based search algorithms PageRank and HITS were reported. They are related to social networks and exploit the hyperlinks of the Web to rank pages according to their levels of "prestige" or "authority".

Apart from ranking documents at search engines, hyperlinks are also useful for finding Web communities. A Web community is a cluster of densely linked pages representing a group of people with a special interest. Social network analysis is applied by search engines to the Web. Essentially, the web is a virtual society creating a virtual social network.

Each page is a social actor and each hyperlink a relationship. Much research in social network analysis can be adapted and extended for use in the Web context. The two main algorithms rely on two types of social network analysis, centrality and prestige, which are closely related to hyperlink analysis and search on the Web.

If you'd like to learn more about search engine algorithms you can download a paper here.

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