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Quality and Authority: Relevance Alone Is Not Enough
msndude




msg:1533876
 8:30 pm on Jun 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

One complaint I hear a lot in this forum is that MSN Search fails to identify "quality" sites or "authority" sites. I'd actually be interested in hearing your collective idea of what these terms mean. It's hard for me to respond intelligently to this type of concern if I'm not sure we mean the same thing by the words.

Here are a few questions to get us started:

Does quality include the appearance of a site, or only the content? How about the organization of a site?

Can a site be an authority if it's not government, educational, or from a big corporation?

Is it possible for an authority to not be quality?

I realize this is a bit different from the usual sort of discussion we have here, but I hope I'm not the only one who'd welcome a little variety.

 

CanadianLove




msg:1533936
 7:26 am on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Quality is WalMart.
Authority is Oprah.

steveb




msg:1533937
 11:19 am on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'll say something nice whenever the geolocation thing is fixed, I promise. :)

"A quality site is totally subjective"

False, when talking about search engines, and missing the point. Quality is an objective reality. In the eyes of god, there is a site (and in fact a list of sites from 1 to whatever) that offers the greatest quality to the user who typed in the search query. Saying quality is subjective is similar to all the posts we get here commenting on the results based on how a person ranks. It's pointless, silly and transparent.

Quality on the other hand is an absolute truth. The only question involving it is the ability of a human being, and a non-human algo/robot, to correctly discern that quality.

Quality is a challenge, but it is out there, and the engines just have to figure out the best way(s) to recognize it,

aleksl




msg:1533938
 1:06 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

CanadianLove, good one :)

steveb - nothing in this world has absolute truth. Quality, just as authority, is completely subjective.

There may be new sites coming up all the time that will be perceived of better quality than others. consider Google maps, for a while mapquest was "quality", and now it is just not good enough, although their site hasn't changed much. also consider google - there are lots of folks out there who will argue one way or another that it is "quality" Search Engine. Well, if I am looking for something and not finding it, and finding all kinds of garbage in SERPs, and link: or site: commands don't work, etc. I will move to another SE, and from my perspective first SE will NOT be "quality", yet for others it will be.

RhinoFish




msg:1533939
 2:43 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

To have authority, there must be a compelling answer to the "who?" question.

"Who" can be a person, an org or a something looser than an org, but still a compelling "who".

Authority is an identifiable "who" voice that rises above others in it's compelling persuasive force.

The "who" can write the rules (that's why .gov is compelling) or know and study and teach the rules (why .edu is compelling).

Or the "who" can have de facto (popular, comprehensive, and they own a niche) and therefore sets the rules / ways / customs informally.

Or factual (statistical) insights into the rules, customs, accepted, popular things and practices.

Want to know the how to file your taxes - the "who" is irs.gov.

Want "someone" to tell you what to buy Dad for father's day? It needs to be a person or org with a known propensity for picking gifts well (Martha Stewart) -or- to be a father we all recognize who states what he wants to receive (Howie Long's ad) -or- a chart from Target showing the stats of what others are buying (where the "who" is people trusting target to post a factual chart) -or- an org we trust takes a poll of Dad's and posts the results.

Always a "who" behind everything they put forward.

It doesn't matter if they benefit financially or not, just whether they are compelling.

No matter what else is measured or considered, there MUST be a WHO behind any info for it to be considered an authority.

Start with the who.

Nothing to do with site quality at all.

Everything to do with the "who". A "who" with recognized expertise, focus, track record, trust or whatever, but always a "who".

A 1-page website with no navigation could have authority solely from its "who".

aleksl




msg:1533940
 3:33 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

RhinoFish - good points, I disagree on one example though "want to know how to file your taxes" - irs.gov may be an authority on "tax law", but on the subject of how to properly (i.e. benefiting yourself, not government, yet still legal) file your taxes a tax accountant or attorney will sure be of higher authority than IRS. In fact, if you read books by former IRS agents, they will tell you that IRS is wrong about 50% of the times.

asiaseo




msg:1533941
 4:24 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

steveb / msndude, we have a serious problem when it comes to search engines using location. For English language international business sites based in say Singapore or Hong Kong etc, these are international, the authority site when searching worldwide will very often indeed be located 'in' that geographical location. This however is a problem with the others also.
I am new to this, but when I and others discovered that because English language international sites were based in places such as Singapore that the location of the servers affected our positions I couldn't believe it!
I am repeating what I have said before, but if you search using Yahoo or Msn using Australia versions for a topic in another part of the world, Europe, South America, wherever, you get good results.

bose




msg:1533942
 5:21 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

how one would make the distinction between a "niche authority" for a query vs. a "quality" result for a query.

Allow me to rephrase it: How to discern a quality document from an authoritative document -within the limited scope of a niche (a search-space, a sub-graph) in relation to a specific query.

If so, Now we're talkin! :)

Let us say I am searching for: "How to use After-Burners on my HUNTER-9000 Space Transporter." I would deem a document listing to be a Quality page/resource if its content adequately covers the subject matter (HUNTER-9000 Space Transporter After Burners) I am interested in -to a reasonable degree of accuracy and completeness. I don't care if that document is found happliy living on Bubba's Baitshop and Fishing Bloopers (non-authoritative) website.

When I am looking for information on a topic, I want to land on a page that provides that information -not doorway pages, not directory pages, not RSS feed aggregator sites, not MFA sites sprinkled with snippets of text lifted from other sites. That resource need not be an authority on all things related to the HUNTER-9000 Space Transporter. I'll be happy if it has the (limited) info that I am currently looking for -i.e. info on "How to use After-Burners on HUNTER-9000 Space Transporter". If so, I'd call it a quality resource.

An Authority site on HUNTER-9000 Space Transporter, however, would have to have information on all things related to HUNTER-9000 (i.e. horizontal spread) and more detailed information (vertical depth, more granular coverage, etc.) on various (HUNTER-9000 related) sub-topics. I would expect it to have more horizontal topical coverage including user's manuals for the After burners, Ionic thrusters, and of course, the HUNTER-9000 Toaster Oven. Vertical depth would include drill-down access to more granular documents, such as -going from Users manuals to the Material List, to the Manufacturing diagrams for slapping together a custom-designed Pea Shooter for the VeePee -should he want to go quail hunting in Texas, errr... I meant Mars.

A Quality Resource has to adequately suffice my specific/current query -thats it. From an Authoritative resource, however, I would expect related (lateral coverage) documents, and more detailed information (vertical depth) should I want to explore it further. jmho.

Garya




msg:1533943
 7:00 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I see all my posts were deleted because I gave examples of what are quality sites or authority.
for real estate
computer auction
and auctions
If all examples are deleted it will be hard to make any specific points.
To much time here is wasted making general statements.
Need examples.
Webmaster states I am contributing to spam, Don't see how pointing out good sites that are not in Msn as spam.
Think I will go somewhere else.

steveb




msg:1533944
 9:29 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

"steveb - nothing in this world has absolute truth. Quality, just as authority, is completely subjective."

Sorry, but again this is totally false, because we are talking about search queries, and human searchers. It's an absolute truth that Abraham Lincoln is dead. It's also an absolute truth that of all the websites in the world there is a highest quality/best/most authoritative result for a person's query, or one most often the best for the most people. Sometimes this result is a "tie" between many sites, like "what is 2+2", but for the mass of things there exists a result set that is objectively ranked in order of quality of results. Usually we can't know that (rarely we can know for sure the top result), but that is the neverending mission of a search engine, to deliver the best quality result to a searcher in terms of the searchers exact query, interests and needs.

Armwaving about quality that it is just "too hard" or that a result for person A is somehow mysteriously subjective in person B's head simply makes a somewhat difficult task look impossible or hopeless. It's not.

econman




msg:1533945
 9:51 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think the words "Authority" and "Quality" refer to somewhat different phenomena, but there is some overlap, and these phenomena tend to be closely correlated in actual practice, so we tend to confuse them.

Unlike some others, I don't think these concepts are entirely subjective or incapable of being detected on the basis of quantitative evidence.

The key attributes that make a site an "authority" on a specific topic:

1.The site offers a lot of information about the topic.
2.The information tends to be very accurate.
3.The site has been (or eventually will be -- if it is relatively new) recognized by both users and by experts in the field as an authoritative source of information on that particular topic.

Some key attributes of site "quality"

1.The information is accurate, and drawn from reliable sources, or is based on the author's own expertise.
2.The information is well organized and easy to find.
3.At least some of the information is uniquely available from this source – they've gone to the effort, or care so deeply about their topic that they have deeper, more comprehensive information than other sites.
4.The site is aesthetically pleasing – no annoying ads screaming in your face.
5. If you look closely, you discover that the site has been skillfully prepared by people who care about their craft – the words are well written, the photos are sharp and well composed, the graphic design is both visually pleasing and effective, the site architecture is sound, it is W3C compliant, etc.

The other key point is that a high quality site may have a document that is relevant to a particular query, but the site may not have many other documents that are on point, and in general it may lack sufficient in-depth information about the topic to justify placement high in the SERPs for that query.

For instance, a major university site might display uniformly high quality, and it might be the ultimate authority on the course offerings and professors at that particular school; but it may or may not contain detailed, useful information about any specific academic topic.

Even if the university has several Nobel Laureates in Physics on their faculty, that doesn't mean the school's web site is necessarily an authority on Physics, or any specific topic within that niche.

Someone searching for information about Quantum Mechanics would not be well-served by a search engine that takes them to a page with the current semester's schedule of courses in Quantum Mechanics, even if that page happens to use the words "Quantum Mechanics" and "Physics" in the URL.

The key to solving this puzzle is – at least in part – looking past individual documents, and individual words, to consider how many other words, and how many other documents are included on that site that are directly related to that particular topic, as well as closely related topics.

You have to look for entire clusters of documents, and clusters of specific, related words within those documents, in order to identify and define each "niche".

You should strive to not only identify "quality" sites but also strive to find documents that sit within a cluster of closely related documents.

To solve the problem people have been complaining about, you need to be displaying more documents in the top 30 portion of your SERPs that are taken from the relatively small group of high quality sites that has the most in-depth coverage of that particular topic.

Just to be safe, be sure to throw in some documents from Wikipedia, or Encarta, the BBC, that site "about" stuff, sites like Expedia, etc. and you'll probably have pleased the user. But you can't just show documents from those mile wide and inch deep sites; if that's all you do, you aren't really helping users and you'll continue to get a lot of complaints from folks struggling to build and maintain "authority" sites within narrow niches (an important subset of the folks who hang out at WebmasterWorld, along with the spammers, SEO experts, etc.)

One last thought.

One of the things many of us love about MSN is that it hasn't relied on "sandbox" features that tend to make it nearly impossible for new sites to appear in the SERPs.

In that regard, don't overreact to the "authority" concept, but waiting until a site has been around long enough to be widely recognized as an "authority" site.

If a high quality site has enough information on a particular topic, and it been around a long time, chances are it is already recognized as an "authority";.

But, if a site is relatively new, or the niche it serves is very obscure, the site may not yet be widely known, and thus it may not yet have been recognized as an "authority".

If you can find those sites, and give them some visibility, you will serve your users well, and you will help these sites become better known, so that eventually even the big "G" will grant them "authority" status.

(Or, you could think of one of these newer in-depth sites as being a nascent "authority" which hasn't yet been recognized as such).

MikaelTC




msg:1533946
 12:47 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

A quality site satisfies the query.
An authoritative site satisfies the question.
Ideally, the top sites are both high quality, and authoritative.

And now, to elaborate:

Website quality and website authority are, to my mind, clearly distinguishable. Quality is simply the technical execution of the task (in this case, answering the user's search engine query). Authority, however, is the wealth of meaning behind the answer that actually satisfies the question asked. Part of the trouble is that we don't use natural language when querying search engines; I may ask "Where can I find more information about the Honda Civic?" but I'd probably query "honda civic" or "hondacivic" or even "hundai civic" (but that is outside the scope of this topic).

Quality is the technical eloquence by which the site was made and found. Does the site have information related to the query? Is the site easily navigable? Is the site attractive (or at least offer enough incentive to suffer through aesthetic flaws)? Is the site useful? And so on.

Authority is a little tougher because I believe that authority does not easily translate to quantitative analysis that can be readily computerized.

I posit that the platonic "authority" is a person with significant knowledge and experience in a given area. When people recognize/link to/defer to/attribute authority to this person they don't do so because other people do, they do so because they see that the person is knowledgeable in the area and speaks with authority. But this recognition is not always meaningful. If, for example, I told you that George W. Bush is an excellent cook, my recognition is meaningless, I neither know him nor have any way to rate his culinary skill. People with significant knowledge, experience and meaningful recognition become "authority figures," which is a different topic, but perhaps it is more closely related to our discussion here.

An authority site, then, is a site that has knowledge, experience and meaningful recognition in an area. Knowledge and experience translates into the veracity and reliability of the information provided by the site. Since search engines have know way to know first hand if information is false or true, they will have to find some other way to evaluate it.

Therefore, if I see a SERP that lists ten sites that can technically answer my query but are totally unable to actually answer my question I will bemoan the lack of "Authority Sites" in the listings. Usually the problem is with my query, but I suspect that the number of people who iterate queries to hone into the desired result is small indeed.

swa66




msg:1533947
 2:29 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think an authority site can be in a different geo target from the subject or even the requestor of the information (thsi is one of the things I really dislike about microsoft's search engine: it's lack of global insight).

msndude




msg:1533948
 3:52 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure if it's a consolation to Garya or not, but I did record his examples before they were deleted. On the other hand, I understand the policy against posting URLs here and suggest anyone with specific examples just send me a sticky.

I'm impressed at the many thoughtful responses to the topic. I had not realized what philosophers we have here! :-)

If we don't think the thread has gone on too long, I'd like to inject a bit of customer focus, as well as fulfill my promise to post my own thoughts.

From the customer's perspective, I suggest that a quality result gives him/her the sought-after result, and it does so conveniently. Getting the wrong page on the right site may still be good enough for a given query, but it's not a quality result.

An authority result, then, is one the customer expects to see. When someone searches for free e-mail, he/she probably does expect to see the offerings from Microsoft and our competitors, for example. These sites may not directly answer the customer's query, but the customer expects them and is surprised if they don't show up.

ken_b




msg:1533949
 3:56 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

From the customer's perspective, I suggest that a quality result gives him/her the sought-after result, and it does so conveniently. Getting the wrong page on the right site may still be good enough for a given query, but it's not a quality result.

An authority result, then, is one the customer expects to see. When someone searches for free e-mail, he/she probably does expect to see the offerings from Microsoft and our competitors, for example. These sites may not directly answer the customer's query, but the customer expects them and is surprised if they don't show up.

I could live with that description.

buckworks




msg:1533950
 4:29 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

An authority result, then, is one the customer expects to see.

For my taste, that definition depends too much on what the customer already knows. It comes too close to equating authority with a popularity contest.

steveb




msg:1533951
 8:29 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

For a free email search on MSN, Yahoo is first, but Hotmail doesn't make the top 100. (And Yahoo is gone on co.uk)

RichTC




msg:1533952
 9:17 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

MsnDude

"In basic terms an authority is a website that has more info than the rest and so the other sites link to them to further the user to it"

Agree - Content has to be king

"From the customer's perspective, I suggest that a quality result gives him/her the sought-after result, and it does so conveniently. Getting the wrong page on the right site may still be good enough for a given query, but it's not a quality result."

Agree - the user wants to go to the "Site Page" that is the MOST relevent to the search string with as much information about the search string available as possible.

HOWEVER, despite the above being the basis of what you need to have in order to deliver the best search results you still have a major problem - Your search bot!.

Despite a thousand and one requests your bot still cant deep index a large site - so what is going to be done about it? Look at any large site on the net with the site: command in msn and you dont even index 20% of them, hence untill you do this you will NEVER be able to offer users the most relevent page on a site to the search string NOR will you be able to identitfy an authority site because you simply wont have cashed or indexed the data to do it.

In closing i give a typical example of search bot action on a large authority site. (This is based on one large site picked at random from about 40 sites of clients, but its typical of what i see ALL over) it shows how poor your search bot is:-

Actual figures 1st to 21st June

Googlebot........630,972....29.99 GB
Inktomi Slurp....233,389....11.96 GB
Ukrobot'crawl'....49,585.....2.74 GB
psbot.............39,432.....1.81 GB
GigaBot...........18,504......802.37 MB
AskJeeves.........18,287.....1.34 GB
Voyager...........15,955......773.48 MB
Unknown robot......5,458......174.99 MB
MSNBot.............4,080......220.75 MB
Alexa(IA Archiver)...929.......32.46 MB
LinkChecker..........761.......29.37 MB
larbin...............210........8.12 MB
EchO!................143........2.12 MB
Magpie................89........5.94 MB
Unknown'spider'.......88........2.97 MB
Nomad.................87........2.15 MB
UdmSearch.............45

I have mentioned this before to you but you have to agree msn bot just doesnt cut the mustard, so this thread is almost a waste of time because even with the answers your technology currently just isnt up to the job. When the likes of Gigabot can out perform your bot by five times its time to rethink imo.

Sorry but im telling it as it is!

Rich

econman




msg:1533953
 11:49 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

MSNDude: It strikes me that you are defining these terms differently than most thread participants, in some important, albeit subtle, ways.

Your proffered definition has a strong customer focus. That's a good idea, up to a point. As worded, however, it has too narrow a focus.

You say “"...a quality result gives him/her the sought-after result, and it does so conveniently." You are focuses only on the quality of the SERP itself, not the quality of the sites that are being listed in the SERP.

A site like the BBC's or the New York Times' can exhibit uniformly high “quality” even if it doesn't answer the customer's question.

Stated another way, your definition largely ignores the quality of the sites you are listing and concentrates exclusively on the quality of the SERPs that are provided in response to a given query.

You are talking about SERP quality, most of the thread participants have been talking about site quality. Of course these two different types of quality are closely related (it irks knowledgeable customers when higher quality sites are hidden, but junky MFA sites using aggressive SEO techniques are high in the SERPs).

Similarly, your definition of “authority” is far too dependent on popular opinion. Thus, it breaks down completely in the context of what most thread participants have been calling “niche authority” sites. The latter sites are usually going to be completely unfamiliar and unknown to a typical MSN customer, but they are well known to experts in that niche.

You state that “An authority result...is one the customer expects to see. ...These sites may not directly answer the customer's query, but the customer expects them and is surprised if they don't show up.” That is true with respect to broad authority sites, like Wikipedia. It is not true with niche authority sites – precisely the ones that people are complaining are missing from your SERPs. If you “fix” your algorithms to make sure that familiar looking mile-wide, inch-deep sites like Wikipedia, encarta, bbc, travelocity, and similar well known sites always appear on the first page of your SERPs, you will have completely missed the point, and your market share will subsequently fall even farther.

Sure, customers “expect” to see sites like these; but that doesn't mean they will be pleased.

Customer reactions will depend on the query. For some queries (most queries in some obscure niches) they will click on MSN's listing, and quickly discover the page MSN listed doesn't give him/her the “sought-after result.” They may become a bit irritated and decide to switch to another SE, if they conclude this “broad authority” site didn't actually help. Sometimes, they can't find the answer to their question even after spending a couple of minutes clicking around one of these mile-wide, inch-deep sites, like the one that has a little to say “about” everything, but it doesn't know very much “about” anything.

msndude




msg:1533954
 1:33 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Well, I didn't mean to imply that authority sites are query-independent. I'm thinking that authority -- like quality -- is query-dependent. For a very targeted query, like "hypersonic widgit cleaners," only the expert user will actually know the authority sites, but then the expert user is more likely to issue such a query in the first place.

One might then think of authority as being earned by being quality over a period of time.

An interesting question would be if it's reasonable to let an authority be slightly less relevant than other results. For example, show the authority for "hypersonic widgits" even though the query was for "hypersonic widgit cleaners."

buckworks




msg:1533955
 2:33 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

One might then think of authority as being earned by being quality over a period of time.

Now you're getting warmer ...

trinorthlighting




msg:1533956
 2:50 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

RichTC,

How many pages are in MSN's index verses google and yahoo for that site? I looked at some of my webstats and saw MSN was not crawling as much, but MSN had more pages indexed and cached for one of my sites.

Googlebot goes crazy on my site as well eating up bandwidth but MSN has a lot more pages cached and it updates changes quicker.

In the past, MSN had issues crawling my site but I cleaned up a lot of code and made it W3C compliant. After that MSN indexed almost every page.

That site might have some code issues preventing MSN from indexing it.

Also, how often does the content change on that site?

econman




msg:1533957
 2:56 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's not only reasonable to let a document from an authority be slightly less relevant than other results, it can be a very effective strategy for pleasing your customers.

In other words, you definitely should be displaying a document from the top authority for "hypersonic widgits" even if their query was for "hypersonic widgit cleaners."

The key point is whether or not the site is an authority on hypersonic widgits, rather than just being an authoritative source of information about hundreds or thousands of different topics.

To figure this out, your algorithms need to check whether the site has many documents about hypersonic widgits – the history of them, where they are built, who builds them, the different technical approaches being used, perhaps which ones are easiest to clean, which cleaning products are best to use with them (and thus there is even a document with a short discussion of "hypersonic widgit cleaners") and so forth.

If the site has sufficient in-depth information about hypersonic widgits, it ought to be listed, along with a few of the heavily-SEO'd ecommerce sites that are selling hypersonic widgit cleaners.

To identify niches, and identify the best “authority” sites in each niche, you can't just focus on individual documents. You need to look for entire clusters of documents, and clusters of specific, related words within those documents, in order to identify and define each "niche". An example of related words might be the names of the manufacturers, names of the competing technologies that are used to build hypersonic widgits, the name of the original inventor of hypersonic widgits, names of the chemicals used in hypersonic widgit cleaners, and so forth.

To solve the problem people have been complaining about, you need to be giving more prominence to the relatively small group of high quality sites that have the most in-depth coverage of hypersonic widgits, as well as the documents that have the keywords “hypersonic widgit cleaners” in their URL.

RichTC




msg:1533958
 4:32 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

trinorthlighting

Nope. That site has content added to it on a regular basis, also, the majority of its pages are in yahoo and Google with about 20% in MSN.

Likewise, all the other sites i checked on.

I am 100% convinced that the crawling depth problem is down to the technology used by msn NOT the sites involved.

If we were talking a handfull of sites i would agree but you can do a site: command check on almost ANY large site on the net and you will quickly see that msn bot cant index the data.

If the Google, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves and the likes of Gigablast bot can deep crawl a site then imo it should be a walk in the park for msn but clearly its an area they still struggle with

trinorthlighting




msg:1533959
 5:25 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I was asking because I had a site with some bad href tags and it prevented msnbot from doing a deep index. Once I fixed it I had no issues at all with crawling deep.

Shurik




msg:1533960
 6:33 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Am I the only one confused here? I thought the original questions posted by Msndude were about quality/authority sites and not results.

One complaint I hear a lot in this forum is that MSN Search fails to identify "quality" sites or "authority" sites. I'd actually be interested in hearing your collective idea of what these terms mean.

The definitions suggested by Msndude apply to results and not sites. A quality result is definitely not the same as a quality site and the two terms cannot be used interchangeably

mgpapas




msg:1533961
 6:40 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Authoritative: Of acknowledged accuracy or excellence; highly reliable

I have a site that offers free widget code for your web site.

#1. My free widget code site is Freewidgetcode.com
#2. My site has offered free widget code for 5+ years.
#3. My site has been consistently ranked #1 on all 3 major search engines for the past 4 years for free widget code and related terms.
#4. My free widget code is used by tens of thousands of satisfied customers and has 1000's of back links.

In addition my Free Widget Code is REALLY 100% free unlike many others that say free (seo tricks) but actually charge or have a free version which is crap and has to be upgraded to be worth anything.

My site is not a government site or a big corporation. (the big corporations are the ones trying to trick you into thinking they are free to get your money for the widget code)

If anyone doesn't think my site, based on the above statements being a fact, is an authoritative source for Free Widget Code I would like to know why.

At the beginning of this thread msndude asked.

>Can a site be an authority if it's not government, educational, or from a big corporation?

The fact he even asked that question is kind of scary.

I certainly hope MSN Search doesn't use that as a guideline for what is authoritative. Government and big corporations in particular are often in the business of propaganda which can frequently be the opposite of authoritative.

debvh




msg:1533962
 6:42 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

From the customer's perspective, I suggest that a quality result gives him/her the sought-after result, and it does so conveniently. Getting the wrong page on the right site may still be good enough for a given query, but it's not a quality result.

An authority result, then, is one the customer expects to see. When someone searches for free e-mail, he/she probably does expect to see the offerings from Microsoft and our competitors, for example. These sites may not directly answer the customer's query, but the customer expects them and is surprised if they don't show up.

No fair, you asked us about quality and authority sites, not results. <Edit> I see now that this same point was made a couple of posts up.</edit>

From a customer perspective, I agree with your definition of a quality result.

I think your definition of authority is incomplete. As a searcher, I am always delighted to find a new authority on a topic, especially if the reason I am searching is that my old favorite authority isn't doing the job anymore.

spander




msg:1533963
 9:27 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

msndude, since your intent is to figure out how to separate run-of-the-mill from authority sites, why not take another look at DMOZ as a source of both quality and authority sites.

msndude




msg:1533964
 4:28 am on Jun 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Good points about "sites" vs. "results." I should have added "in our results" to the original comments. I hope people didn't think we were planning to release a site-rating service or something! :-)

A quality site on widgets isn't likely to be a quality result for a query about gizmos. Ditto for authority, although an encyclopedia site has a shot at being a generic authority.

Sorry if I confused people.

msndude




msg:1533965
 4:36 am on Jun 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

RichTC is correct. It's possible for us to fail to crawl your site as deeply as we ought to, even though you didn't make big mistakes in your HTML. This is another problem we're actively working on.

Don't let me stop you from doing that HTML cleanup if you really want to do it, but please don't spend hours and hours on it hoping that'll change how we index your site. It almost certainly won't.

Now if you screw up your robots.txt file, THEN we may well fail to crawl your site, but if that happens, we won't crawl it at all.

CanadianLove




msg:1533966
 7:19 am on Jun 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Econman said:

MSNDude: It strikes me that you are defining these terms differently than most thread participants...Your proffered definition has a strong customer focus...

And right he is. A business is to serve customers. Ideology is for penguins. And web forums.

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