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PageRank was of paramount importance back then. At the time, AltaVista/Inktomi were easy to spam, and Google wasn't.

The google spam that actually works (or at least, worked a few years ago, before panda) requires setting up lots of sites, lots of independent IP blocks. That was much harder when PageRank appeared - hosting was damn expensive, VPSes were nowhere to be found.

PageRank was a huge thing. I used "and" queries in altavista at the time. It was no match.




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