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Google's Search Interface - An Article From Ben Gomes

 1:29 pm on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google's Ben Gomes followed up on Udi Manber's earlier blogging [webmasterworld.com] and wrote a detailed article about the reults page interface. Ben has been with Google since 1999 and previously worked on search quality, everything from crawling to ranking, and recently he's been focused on the interface for Google's various search services.

The article is mostly informative for the general search user - and here and there little tidbits fall out that may be interesting for the SEO who follows Google intensively. For example, in discussing sitelinks, Gomes says:

For instance, the home page of Hewlett-Packard has almost 60 links, in a two-level menu system. Our algorithms, using a combination of different signals, pick the top ones among these that we think you are most likely to want to visit.


One thing popped out at me here. The sitelinks algo starts with links on the Home Page to make its choices. That's not earth-shattering news, but I notice that the HP home page currently has 110 links. So apparently the sitelinks algo attempts to focus on the actual "menu" as opposed to any other links on the page. That's not an iron-clad rule. Through experience, i know that that sitelinks are not always selected from the main menu.



 1:42 pm on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Another point here is that Gomes is almost bragging about separating out the key links from the 60 that HP includes in their menu. As if 60 was a big number and a hard job. So think about that in relation to the Mega Menu problem [webmasterworld.com] we are discussing in another thread.

My current record holder is a site that came to me for ranking help with 587 links on the home page - and 522 of them were in the hover menu system. No, they didn't have sitelinks (although it seems they "should" have) and no, they weren't ranking for bupkis, either.

So I'm happy for this blog post where Ben brags about Google's ability to sort out 60 menu links. I have a few people who will be getting a link to this article from me.


 4:02 pm on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hmmm, I either forgot, ignored or never knew:

Pages that don't have a proper title are often ignored by users. One of the bigger recent changes has been to extract titles for pages that don't specify an HTML title -- yet a title on the page is clearly right there, staring at you. To "see" that title that the author of the page intended, we analyze the HTML of the page to determine the title that the author probably meant.


 4:09 pm on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

To "see" that title that the author of the page intended, we analyze the HTML of the page to determine the title that the author probably meant.

I haven't read the article yet, but the line quoted made me immediately think.... "h1 anyone".


 7:51 pm on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

"For one of the most common types of user needs, navigational queries -- where you type in the name of a web site you know -- we have introduced shortcuts (we refer to them as sitelinks). These sitelinks allow you to get to the key parts of the site and illustrate many of the same principles alluded to above; they are a simple addition to the top search result that adds a small amount of extra text to the page."

Assumingly a layman would always type "website name" when webite name is a kind of brand or company/organisation/popular name.

I observed something
- Any Query which is for a brand or company/organisation, this works fine and official site used to rank#1 with navigational links.

- Sometimes doesnt works with abbreviations which are also commonly searched, quoted example in Article is "Hewlett Packard", while searching "HP" doesnt throw navigational link with official website at #1

- Any Query doesnt intend to be a brand or company/organisation/ as such e.g. city name searches, I observed that having exact keywords in the domain name is helping in getting listed with navigational links which is a great advantage for sure. I did several city name and travel related queries and invariably observed this. I am sure there will be some other factors as well to give an authority to any website to be listed with navigational link.


 2:59 am on Aug 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

"h1 anyone"

Probably more like find the text string headed up with umpteen nonbreaking spaces and followed with a linebreak. :)

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