OK, guys and girls in search-engine land, here’s a few questions inquiring minds would like to ask. One is generic and can be answered by any of you (please don’t trample each other rushing to the mike to respond) and the others are specific to individual engines.
Ready, steady, let’s go!
For Ask.com: What did you do with the body? Jeeves body, to be specific. Is it entombed in concrete somewhere near Hoffa’s or do you have it in cryogenic storage waiting to be re-animated (ala Jack of Jack-In-The-Box fame) when the winds of marketing shift?
For Everyone: If LinksManager’s application writers can figure out a way to automatically rotate links (a standard option) why can’t yours design a system that automatically rotates returns to give every site with the same relative value a fair share of the hits?
Look, people, we know that all your systems rank websites using the dog show model. We know that sites, like the dogs at Westminster and other canine competitions, are compared to a set of standards, not each other. (Maybe someday you’ll be able to make head-to-head comparisons of 5,000,000 sites answering a search for “dog show”, but that day isn’t today.)
Each site — like a champion Black Russian Terrier (a very bizarre dog bio-engineered by the former Soviet Union Army at a secret installation called the Red Star Kennel) — is examined for conformance to the standards of its breed. Clearly you all have differing standards for breeds such as e-tail sites, .org domains, educational sites, etc., but the methodology is the same, sites are judged against the standards and assigned a numerical ranking.
OK. If you do a search for Black Russian Terrier you’ll get 560,000 returns (give or take 100,000 or so depending on which engine you use.) The question is, does your ranking algorithm really scale from 1 to 560,000 with each and every one of those sites having an absolutely different qualitative rating. Or do 1,000 sites total 1000, 10,000 total 900, etc. ?
And if there are duplicate ratings, wouldn’t it be more fair to rotate the returns at each level to give every site with the same number of points equal exposure? Even if your bots do rank sites down to 19 decimal places, wouldn’t it be a good idea to rotate those that are within one percentage point of each other?
Many end users, including us, don’t like seeing the same return lineup every time we search a key word because we’ve already explored those top 20 sites after a previous search. We’d love having a list of different, equally good, sites appear.
For Google: Why does Dogpile.com return #1 in a search for search engines and why does the first actual link to the Google.com search engine return at #71, far behind returns for Alta Vista, Ask, Yahoo, DMOZ, and Netscape?
Since you profess to rank pages in order of importance, does positioning yourself after these competitors say something Freudian about your sense of self-esteem or are you just being magnanimous to the also-rans?
Or could it be, perhaps, that you simply define the word “important” differently than the rest of the English-speaking world.
How else can you explain why Googling bookstore does not give us the planet’s largest book seller, Amazon.com, anywhere in the first 100 returns? Likewise a search for online auctions returns eBay at #95 while Yahoo Auctions occupy both the #12 and #33 spot.
Which leads to a final question for the Google contingent: Why is the Yahoo Auction service, which has been out of business for more than a year, more important than eBay?
For Microsoft Live: Stop smirking, Mr. Gates, we typed the words computer software into your latest, greatest search engine and drilled down 20 pages — 200 returns — without finding a single link to Microsoft.com.
Is that another Freudian slip?
Do we see a hand go up from somewhere deep in Redmond? No?
In that case, Mr. Gates, we’ll hazard our own guess. Since the Microsoft Live Guidelines For Successful Indexing say that pages should be designed with “valuable content,” our speculation is that Microbot (or whatever you call your crawler) visited the XP “Solution Center” and found it about as valuable as everyone else does.
For Yahoo: Why doesn’t Yahoo.com show up in the returns for death throes? Sorry, Jerry, that really wasn’t very kind. On the other hand, the 317th richest man in the world should be able to take a joke, even a sick one, as long as someone other than the 42nd richest man in the world is making it.
Speaking of Freudian, here’s a more serious question for you Yahooers. Does everyone in the search engine business suffer from an inferiority complex? If not, why do you return News.yahoo.com #3 in a search for news services and News.google.com #2 (behind only a shortcut to some news stories)?
While we’re on the news services return pages, why does the Purdue University News Service rank #6? Why isn’t the Associated Press site anywhere in the top 100? Conversely, why is Gongwer News, whatever that is, in the top 100 twice and why is Areaconnect.com, which isn’t really a news service at all, in the first 100 about ten times starting with the #10 spot?
So there it is, the first edition of the Search Engine Follies of 2008 compiled from searches conducted on 6/10/08. So much for comic relief, time to knuckle down and get serious about improving our page rank. HHHmmm, maybe we should start by visiting here and picking up a few “hidden-energy” SEO tricks from the Old Out-of-the-Broom Closet Witch.