tedster - 9:16 pm on May 16, 2010 (gmt 0)
it doesnt explain why adult sites are returned for basic searches
I think it could. Why do two year olds use "bad language" when company comes to visit? Because they haven't learned enough yet.
It's the wave-like behavior of shifts in long-tail rankings that make me suspect automated ranking changes based on statistical feedback. I suspect this kind of approach was already being tested on a small scale for quite some time.
Remember past complaints about "Yo-yo rankings [webmasterworld.com]" and "traffic throttling" [webmasterworld.com]? Only a few websites saw that, but for those that did the effect was quite unsettling - and some affected sites were very strong brands. Now the same kind of reports seem to be more widespread.
The number of Google employees with PhDs in statistics is pretty large. They've got to be doing something to justify their salaries, right? Deciding between natural versus un-natural [webmasterworld.com] wouldn't take that army of statisticians.
I even suspect that the Position 6 Bug [webmasterworld.com] may have been related to building an AI algorithm. And now that Google has a lot more infrastructure to work with, the grand plan is coming into place.
What we're seeing now is not some recent brainstorm. I think it IS a multi-year grand plan, whatever it may turn out to be. And we will all live with this new approach for quite a while. I plan to study the current SERPs as much as possible while their algorithmic underwear is still showing. Soon enough, it will be mostly invisible.