Lapizuli - 5:57 pm on Jul 22, 2011 (gmt 0)
They spell it out. It's pretty much all there. It could explain some random puzzles:
Why Google's put so much emphasis on user behavior in their public relations with webmasters since Panda.
Why Google seems happy despite so many reports of the search results being garbage for certain types of longish tail queries (data gathering for previously filtered pages - lots and lots of data gathering; Google would have less confidence in their data on less trafficked pages).
Why "tweaks" to Panda do not result in permanent recovery. They're not tweaks, or at least just tweaks - they're new user data, gathered in the interim, applied, and then being gathered some more.
Why sites, big or medium-sized, with highly variable content, or content that looks highly variable insofar as the user experience goes, are suffering more. (Just our impression - not sure how accurate this one is.) This is the "content farm" part of Panda, applying the sitewide user data score to the rankings - the more variable, the more penalty-like. As y'all said, fuzzy stuff.
Why Google or Google experts have said confidently there will be no quick fixes.
Why Google reps have said this can be gamed but that it's not easily tweaked by webmasters. Leaving basically "gamed by the bad guys" - which may be why we've been hearing reports of Google's raised defenses against botnets popping up (people are encountering captcha from Google when they return too quickly from a search engine result).
It may very well be that Google's de-emphasized keywords and backlinks and engaged in a big, stepped-up sorting game with user metrics. Incidentally, a few days ago, my husband used this example to explain to me how this kind of sorting works.
Google says, "So what do you want?"
User says, "Give me the eight of spades."
Google says "Hmm, not sure what you mean, but I think I can guess," and shows a bunch of bewilderingly random cards. The user says, "None of those are really the eight of spades, but I'll take the eight of diamonds and the two of spades. They're close enough."
To the next user who asks for the eight of spades, Google, a bit smarter now, but still in testing mode, offers the eight of diamonds, the two of spades, and some random cards. This user says, "I'll take the seven of spades. That looks closer than all of these."
So now Google's weighted the eight of diamonds and the two of spades fairly highly, and the seven of spades even more highly. This goes on until Google's offering users all the spades and all the eights. From these, the choices are narrowed down until Google's confident it's got the 8 of spades.
He said it's a learning AI. It should sort everything and make excellent linkages between searches and search results - linkages that are not reliant on keywords for relevance or backlinks as artificial quality signals, but that boil quality and relevance down to the user. Unfortunately, it will take a long time, possibly years. (In the meantime, he just Yahoo!s it.)
It raises lots and lots of questions, and not everything fits, but it's a start.
One other note...it almost seems as though it's not the patent that's a piece of Panda, but Panda that's a piece of this patent. Hmmm...