View Full Version : Google Hand Picks Results...?

12-14-2008, 10:49 AM
Google cranks up the Consensus Engine (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/12/googlewashing_revisited/)
Manufacturing isn't dead - it just went to Mountain View

This week Marissa Meyer explained that editorial judgments will play a key role in Google searches. It was reported by Tech Crunch proprietor Michael Arrington - who Nick Carr called the "Madam of the Web 2.0 Brothel" - but its significance wasn't noted. The irony flew safely over his head at 30,000 feet. Arrington observed:

Mayer also talked about Google’s use of user data created by actions on Wiki search to improve search results on Google in general. For now that data is not being used to change overall search results, she said. But in the future it’s likely Google will use the data to at least make obvious changes. An example is if “thousands of people” were to knock a search result off a search page, they’d be likely to make a change


12-14-2008, 01:00 PM
I think this is quite a worrying announcement. The"impartiality" of Google results through use of the algorithm rather than the old days of directories like DMOZ etc where the results were 'handpicked', has always been important. Not just to us SEO folk, but most importantly to its users. If the results can be 'manipulated' by humans, we are likely to be in for a tough time, especially if they react to 'popular opinion' which as we know can easily be skewed with just a few moments of media coverage or A list bloggers. Potentially this could become a case of the tail wagging the dog....And I suspect the tail in this case has dollars/revenue generation attached to it.

12-14-2008, 01:36 PM
Have no worries, this is just Eric holding true to his political endorsement and enacting the fairness doctrine on Google's results. Shame on you to think you should be ranked #1 on your own merits, how selfish.

And you had better not complain when Google Health provides records to the Government to "better serve" the customers of nationalized health care. It's for our own good and Google certainly knows what's best for us.

And if you do complain Google Search will need to share your query data on "Google fairness doctrine" and a complete blueprint of your home and lot from Google maps (created by the new satellite venture between Google and the Fed) with the new "Social Civilian Force" which will be larger than our current armed forces to help ensure your disobedience is does not exceed PC limits.

There is so much more.. hold on, somebody at the door....


12-15-2008, 06:08 AM
Personally I always thought Google could change their results. The day Chrome came out, it was appearing at #1 for all sorts of ambiguous results - THAT DAY!

And it wasn't like people were able to link to it quick enough, plus I'm in the UK, so the bulk of the Internet traffic (US) hadn't woken up yet.

Anyway - my point is that I think they've always been able to massage the results, so I'm not surprised.

Deltron Zero
12-15-2008, 10:02 AM
This could definitely get out of hand. Just look at how digg was manipulated by Obama supporters, whose accounts haven't been touched since the election.

12-15-2008, 10:59 AM
There are two interesting topics here. I don't want to get into a "this party or that party" kind of discussion. Instead as marketers it is interesting to objectively discuss;

The tactics used by political parties and their supporters to exploit the weaknesses of social networks.

What impact will the discovery of hand picking results and favoring political movements have on our trust in Google?
This goes back to a previous thread regarding Eric Schmidt's endorsement of a political party.. it put Google's motives in question.

I believe this event crumbles an important pilar that has supported Google's incredible growth. Trust in their blind view of search results.

So perhaps there is a Google killer and it is Google themselves.


12-15-2008, 01:47 PM
Rusty Brick over at SE rountable (http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/018979.html)provides a response to this issue:

Marissa did not admit that. She said at a LeWeb conference in Paris that Google may look at SearchWiki data and use that data to influence the search results. Specifically, if "thousands of people" remove a result using SearchWiki, then Google might take notice. She did not say if Google would have Google staff "pick and choose" search results. I, as others, assumed that any SearchWiki changes to the core index would be done algorithmically, not by hand.

To say Google "staff will pick and choose what appears in its search results" is a "historic statement" is false. Because, (1) Google did not say this and (2) many speculate there is human involvement in the Google index, to some extent. Google has been open about their human evaluators in the past and there has always been rumors of Google picking the top results for the most important categories. This might just add to those rumors, but it is not an admission.

12-15-2008, 02:02 PM
I think there is an additional and more interesting topic here. (Well, for me anyway, as I am not interested in US politics, or who Eric supports/promotes, any more than I am interested in Branson's or A N Other entrepreneur's political views.)

How will this 'admission' that Google staff will be manipulating results affect us in the SEO world? Maybe they have been doing it all along - it is quite likely isn't it? But we have still been able to get sites ranked and had half a clue how to do it, whatever the latest factors in the alorightm have been.

[As an aside, I'm sure that promoting Chrome so it showed up in the search engines everywhere by the time the US business world woke up is highly likely. If I owned a search engine and had just launched a new 'product' (beta or otherwise), it would show up everywhere in the results too!!]

The problem is the assumption that Google staff know better than searchers what we are looking for. To date, this doesn't seem to have worked brilliantly as they have started introducing geo-targetting etc. For instance, just because I happen to be sitting in Spain and using Google doesn't mean that I want Spanish results. As we get more intent based searching, as well as customised results based on our IP address, search history, SearchWiki popularity etc, the likelihood of not finding what you are looking for because the engine no longer thinks the way we do is going to increase.

From an SEO POV this can only be a bad thing. It may become harder and harder to direct users to the site they actually want. Most internet users are utterly clueless how to use search engines and browsers anyway. Which is why, over the last 10 years or so, each month I have looked with incredulity at the top searches to see google.com, yahoo.com etc. What is wrong with the location bar if you actually know the URL? (It's alright, I know the answer - most people haven't got a clue what the location bar does, or where to find it in their browser!)

If we can't direct people by giving them search terms to look for in our advertising and marketing collateral, and can't guarantee our site will even get listed for our keywords because some Google member of staff might have a downer on widget suppliers in the UK this week, there are going to be an ever-growing number of people struggling to stay in business.

Or will we all just be expected to resort to PPC? And as that becomes more competitive, who precisely will benefit from that??