Why Google and SEO Sucks - Findability

14 Aug 2008 - 11:42am
6 years ago
6 replies
1457 reads
SemanticWill
2007

Ever enter a search term into google and then wonder how/why a certain
result is ranked first?

Enter the term mensch into google. Relatively simple, and those that know
just a bit of yiddish know what it means (I was trying to explain it to
someone and thought I would get some kind of an authoritative definition).
Anywhooo - the first result is for wikipedia - and there is NO content
behind it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mensch

Why, if wikipedia has no definition or article for mesch, do they get top
billing by google as the best, most authoritative definition and article on
mesch?

Bottom line - sometimes google sucks, and sometimes seo optimization +
google means crap results. I thought the google algorythn placed a heavy
weight on how many places link to a site as part of the ranking - not even a
dipsh*t marketing dweeb would think of linking mesch to the wikipedia
article - yet it gets first ranking. What is up with that? This is why I
consistenty say that google is crap.

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Will Evans | User Experience Architect
tel: +1.617.281.128 | will at semanticfoundry.com
aim: semanticwill | gtalk: wkevans4
twitter: semanticwill | skype: semanticwill
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Comments

14 Aug 2008 - 12:21pm
Dennis Deacon
2008

Will, I would agree that Google is not perfect. However, in this case,
the blame cannot be solely on Google. Wikipedia's use of placeholder
pages to encourage contribution within its community is highlighting
a "bad data in, bad data out" issue.

Based on Google's PageRank algorithm, Wikipedia naturally ranks high
due to the number of links into it. Google then views Wikipedia as an
authoritative source.

Not perfect, but in most cases, pretty darn good.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=32046

14 Aug 2008 - 12:55pm
SemanticWill
2007

Obviously Google is not perfect, but, and this is important - its highly
trusted and has to some extent a fiduciary responsibility. According to
them, the most important website one should visit to know, understand mensch
- is an empty page. Why is wikipedia so highly regarded, even in the cases
where it has either 0 or bad data, considered authoritative?

Okay - from the perspective of the term mensch, this is a dumb topic - but
from the perspective of Google and findability and authoritative sources of
information, this is really important - what else is being missed? Where
else is google screwing up is the question that comes to mind.

On Thu, Aug 14, 2008 at 1:21 PM, Dennis Deacon <deconspray at aol.com> wrote:

> Will, I would agree that Google is not perfect. However, in this case,
> the blame cannot be solely on Google. Wikipedia's use of placeholder
> pages to encourage contribution within its community is highlighting
> a "bad data in, bad data out" issue.
>
> Based on Google's PageRank algorithm, Wikipedia naturally ranks high
> due to the number of links into it. Google then views Wikipedia as an
> authoritative source.
>
> Not perfect, but in most cases, pretty darn good.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=32046
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Will Evans | User Experience Architect
tel: +1.617.281.128 | will at semanticfoundry.com
aim: semanticwill | gtalk: wkevans4
twitter: semanticwill | skype: semanticwill
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

14 Aug 2008 - 1:42pm
Christine Boese
2006

Well, except for one thing.

The thing that made Google a game-changer, back in the day, was that it
ambitiously sought to scan ALL PAGE CONTENTS and LINKS.

Previous to Google turning our world into BG and AG (Before Google, and
After Google), no search engine wanted all that wasted info in its
databases, no search engine had a secret agenda to be a giant Hoover for all
data, all books, all maps, all everything, the Book of Life, a Tower of
Babel Akashic that would make a neo-Platonist blush!

I still believe Google is the ultimate Trojan Horse, ostensibly all about
search, but not really. I think highly efficient and godlike search is only
a tangential side business to Google's REAL business, to create Borges' Most
Perfect Map of Everything, to be the most gigantic of giant data Hoovers and
suck up everything (with one big eyeball on the day when AI is actually
possible, since I don't think real AI can exist, without Google-levels of
data behind it).

BG, search engines had much lower expectations, and we were all learning to
focus focus focus on our meta-data, our H1s, our page titles. Woo woo. It
was do or die time back then. There's no way our concept of a Google Bomb,
of linking President Bush and miserable failure, could have ever happened
without the giant whole-page Hoover. Old search engines only wanted to index
the stuff they wanted to index. They wanted us to Set Priorities. And
Hierarchies. They wanted us to screw non-linearity.

So here we are, in the land of AG, a landscape created and shaped by
desires, and the desires of one large entity to suck up data shaped in a
certain way led us to consistently shape our data in a certain way. What
would happen to the Web if some mysterious virus erased Google's databases
tomorrow, the server farms and databanks, and all their back ups?

Would the Akashic continue to exist without the ethers for it to live on?
Would Confucious still say "It is written.." ?

What's so interesting to me is that our current generation of SEO is
morphing back into the more focused attention to metadata, both for the hope
of the Semantic Web, but also because the Google Hoover may be faltering,
may be less godlike than it was when there was less data to suck up. Perhaps
Google's vacuum bags are getting full, and the "sandbox" and the Long Tail
are becoming less indexable then they once were, and maybe even Google is
secretly throwing out some of those old vacuum bags, without telling us.

I mean, sorry Chris Anderson, but the Long Tail could not exist without a
Google as a prerequisite. Marshall McLuhan would be the first to tell you
that (I'm certain Anderson knows that as well).

So the SEO folks are hedging their bets, building new webs that look a lot
like the old meta-tag webs of the 1990s, before Google started scanning
whole pages, whole books, whole everything. The PR line is that Google is
the master index of all indexes, but quietly, in the deep dark margins,
maybe some data is falling off the edge of the Known World, maybe some data
is falling into the Bottomless Pit, with the requisite weeping and gnashing
of teeth.

Maybe the Google search results are losing some of their (sshhhhh) authority
and precision, the very thing that made something free and wonderful rise up
to bury the Lexis-Nexis's of the world in irrelevancy.

I don't think it is all about landing on the first page or the first screen
of the results. I mean, yes, that's a big deal. But truly, I'm more
interested in what ISN'T coming up in the deep results anymore, without so
much of a press release announcing that the Hoover may have reached some of
its limits, may be deliberately not crawling certain sectors of the Net, may
be a less authoritative source for the Data of Everything.

Chris <---still waiting for something bigger than the neo-Platonic imitation
of the Akashic Records

On Thu, Aug 14, 2008 at 1:21 PM, Dennis Deacon <deconspray at aol.com> wrote:

> Will, I would agree that Google is not perfect. However, in this case,
> the blame cannot be solely on Google. Wikipedia's use of placeholder
> pages to encourage contribution within its community is highlighting
> a "bad data in, bad data out" issue.
>
> Based on Google's PageRank algorithm, Wikipedia naturally ranks high
> due to the number of links into it. Google then views Wikipedia as an
> authoritative source.
>
> Not perfect, but in most cases, pretty darn good.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=32046
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

14 Aug 2008 - 2:10pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Will wrote:
> Why, if wikipedia has no definition or article for
> mesch, do they get top billing by google as the best,
> most authoritative definition and article on mesch?

That Wikipedia page is volatile. A quick scan through its history
shows a pretty decent amount of content as recently as May. People
keep deleting it because they feel Wikipedia shouldn't be a
dictionary. Anyway, maybe Google should update its Yiddish more
frequently, but when they orginally crawled it, chances are it was a
pretty good hit.

Also, Google has a specific definition command line that I sometimes
use. If you search for define:mensch you'll get several helpful
results.

// jeff

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=32046

14 Aug 2008 - 2:16pm
SemanticWill
2007

You are a mensch mr howard.

On Thu, Aug 14, 2008 at 3:10 PM, Jeff Howard <id at howardesign.com> wrote:

> Will wrote:
> > Why, if wikipedia has no definition or article for
> > mesch, do they get top billing by google as the best,
> > most authoritative definition and article on mesch?
>
> That Wikipedia page is volatile. A quick scan through its history
> shows a pretty decent amount of content as recently as May. People
> keep deleting it because they feel Wikipedia shouldn't be a
> dictionary. Anyway, maybe Google should update its Yiddish more
> frequently, but when they orginally crawled it, chances are it was a
> pretty good hit.
>
> Also, Google has a specific definition command line that I sometimes
> use. If you search for define:mensch you'll get several helpful
> results.
>
> // jeff
>
>

14 Aug 2008 - 2:11pm
Alex ONeal
2008

Google argues that in the early days of search engines, there was a
Heisenberg-like choice. (If you recall, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle
observed that one the more precisely you observed a subatomic particle's
momentum, the less precisely you knew its position -- and vice versa.)

Similarly, search engines were limited by their servers to either analysing
a large number of pages imprecisely, or a small number of pages
accurately. You therefore see occasional glitches such as the one Will
pointed out.

Technology, though, is changing this. Last fall I sat in a two-day seminar
with Google engineers and they claimed that this distinction was going to
disappear -- that it will soon be possible to evaluate huge quantities of
data to a very precise degree. So perhaps Will will get his wish :-)

An aside - part of the improved analysis will very probably include stronger
study of site semantics, taxonomy, XML sitemaps, etc., which will allow
better understanding of content quality and perhaps even synonym-level
analysis. While many of us watched the weight of semantics such as proper H
tag use, metadata, etc. diminish in search engine ranking because of SEO
abuses, I bet we see it increase again as they ramp up the precision
factor. Well-designed content structure will be seen as more easily
understood, and more easily presented.

This also allows Google to present your site more clearly within their
search engine. Google "Texas Instruments" or "Nortel" to see examples of
sites whose structure and content are searchable from within Google's
results page.

bests,
Alex O'Neal
UX manager

P.S. A good place to check a given page's semantics can be found here:
http://www.w3.org/2003/12/semantic-extractor.html

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