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Battles have seesawed for years between search engines intent on providing unbiased listings and companies seeking top placement in results--that is, a bias in their favor. Now, Google is engaged in a controversial experiment aimed at giving its users a say in ranking the top sites, a move that could help the company either cement or squander its lead in the competitive search market.
This is nothing new to our members but its still an interesting read. Looks as though the authors might have done some research here...
Commercial Alert, a 3-year-old group founded by consumer activist Ralph Nader, asked the FTC to investigate whether eight of the Web's largest search engines are violating federal laws against deceptive advertising.
The group alleges that the search engines are abandoning objective formulas to determine the order of their listed results, and selling the top spots to the highest bidders without making adequate disclosures to Web surfers.
So now MS tells us we want auction bids in our SERPS. Did MS ever ask anybody that.. they didn't ask me...
"Whether it works or not, Google's effort is one of the boldest attempts so far..."
Count me dumb but I don't get it. Why is it such a bold move? Web page voting systems such as the one the article refers to have been tried and are used all over the Web, usually by those dinky little quasi-portals, hubs, and localized sites you submit to in the hope some engine will give your link some weight.
They're generally cheesy, forgotten directories one tends to stumble across two years after someone last clicked a "Vote for this site" link.
"But as Google toys with new, nonmathematical checks, it has unleashed concerns that it will simply open itself up to new problems."
I don't think Google is neglecting or will ever neglect the math. There's way too much at stake. However, what exactly is different about its 'experiment'?
They're not saying, everybody is speculating, and ZDNet is indulging in fluff. When they resort to "...It uses secret mathematical formulas to automatically rank Web sites...", you know the news is not exactly hard.
"Google has always tried to be user aware and...known for its relevant results," she added. "But now it's starting to get junky. And in order to manage that, they need help from users."
I don't buy Dana Todd's skewed pronouncement that Google's results are "...starting to get junky." Nor do they need the help of their users. That sort of stuff is PR-speak.
Which leads me to the two questions that nag most:
Google is already the best at fighting spam. So why complicate the issue by introducing spam-fighting tools impacting on relevance?
Is there not a distinct possibility that this whole thing is just PR designed to up the feel-good factor among users and add greater warmth to the fuzzy wuzzies?
It is just PR. Isn't it?
Ok, that's four questions but you know what I mean. I want answers...:)
On another thread, I read somewhere that the Google voting buttons were not sending any information. possibly a beta-bug, possibly not. It would lead me to believe that this IS all sort of a user feel-good fest.
I like clicking little buttons.
especially ones with cute little faces on them...