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I had to check it out myself, and lo and behold, #1 is the current president's bio, where neither word are mentioned and no visible backlinks use the text. However, upon examining the other results, I noticed Bush's name and the words "miserable failure" in very close proximity on several, if not ALL results for at least 5 pages.
There are theories about anchor text being depreciated, but is it more that Google is starting to experiment in context-sensitive word association? Where, in the broader terms at least, it tries to determine the user's intent based on association on indexed sites, then skews the result to be most relevant to the term WHETHER THAT TERM IS ON THE PAGE OR NOT?
Basically, that the site doesn't say it but enough sites have the two close together so Google, in an effort to determine what I'm talking about, says "hey! GWB and Miserable Failure are together a WHOLE LOT and here's a great site about GWB!"
I might be way off, and I'm not sure I'm doing a good job of explaining what I'm thinking. However, if Google DID try to do something like this, it very well WOULD toss the status quo of results into complete chaos and make "remote seo" via links extremely difficult at best. You'd get relevance because the page linking to you was relevant in more ways than just the text of the link...any takers?
I hadn't thought along these exact lines, but I did at one point wonder if Google had created a system with integrated AI, which would use the toolbar amongst other devices to learn what searchers are looking for - generally, not individually - and learn over time how to improve itself.
Of course this would lead to some pretty bizarre results at the outset - arguably what we're seeing now - but by February (say) results would be looking rather canny.
I dropped that train of thought because the index isn't really updating fast enough to reflect a learning AI.
But I do wonder if AI - as opposed to a 'dumb algo' -isn't playing a much more significant role than it did?
joined:June 2, 2003