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Is Google Classifying 'Types' of Websites and Search Terms?

Deeper Implications of Universal Search



6:34 am on Sep 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

In our ongoing September SERP Changes [webmasterworld.com] thread, gehrlekrona made an observation that I feel is worth some extra attention.

GOGG seems to be trying to do some "web site typing", i.e. trying to find a way to clump sites together in a taxonomy. Maybe they ARE planning to have their search categorized

I think Google has been classifying types of sites for a while, and now it's getting more granular and sophisticated. This kind of sorting and classifying showed up a while back for some of the highly competitive searches. One day we woke up and WHAM!, the whole first page looked profoundly different, with very different types of sites (often informational rather than commercial) being featured. And the previously dominant domains were pushed down or off page one.

Search terms themselves can also be sorted into various taxonomies, especially the 1-word and 2-word queries. Search term taxonomies could be built through "user intention" studies, which are especially challenging for those short queries. Many members here have mention the recent earthquake we;ve seen in the result for many 1-word searches.

With the advent of Universal Search, Google now has the infrastructure to force integrate selections from any class of websites onto the first page. So the implications of Universal Search can go well past the obvious and publicised taxonomies of images, video, news, books, maps, blogs. Even more than a simple "commercial" and "informational" taxonomy, there could also be classes like brochureware sites, trademark holders, businesses with a physical world presence, manufacturers, B2B, multi-topic (encyclopedic) and on and on. One factor Google could then tweak would be which classes of sites to force integrate into the results for which kinds of search terms.

This forced crazy-quilting of Page 1 might well push more users go to Page 2 - and that may even be seen as a potentially positive evolution at Google. It does give more ad impressions, for instance. I'm not saying this is the only motivation, not by a long shot. But it would be one kind of positive outcome as long as there is no negative impact on market share. And the average search user might well appreciate the variety of choices. Time will tell.


9:47 pm on Sep 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Google does what damn well pleases them. no rules that they set up ever apply to them. A while back they didn't want subflder spam, and what do they have? Tons of dfferent subfolders. They own YouTube, so if they want to promote the crap out of it, they can.


9:51 pm on Sep 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Carlitos, my presumption would be that if Google deems a site to be an authority or hub, it is expected to have a broader focus.


10:41 pm on Sep 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Carlitos, my presumption would be that if Google deems a site to be an authority or hub, it is expected to have a broader focus.

ok Piney, but why after they bought Youtube and not before? I mean, why is Youtube showing high up in the SERPS now and not before?

You can't say that they made it 'relevant' after they bought it. There are $1.65 billion that say that Youtube was relevant prior to being the property of Google.

Honestly, I don't have a problem with companies that say that they are in business to maximize profits, its fine, I'm a liberal capitalist. What I really hate is the hypocrisy of saying that they are in business to do 'good' and nonsense like that.


11:06 pm on Sep 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

ok Piney, but why after they bought Youtube and not before? I mean, why is Youtube showing high up in the SERPS now and not before?

Is that a widespread occurrence? It isn't for the searches that I conduct. Wikipedia, TripAdvisor, and VirtualTourist continue to do well, though. I guess I must have missed Google's announcement that it acquired those three sites. :-)


11:48 pm on Sep 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

"ok Piney, but why after they bought Youtube and not before?"

Because now is when they rolled out this change, if you're speaking of this particular thread's focus. I don't see youtube in my sector but do see the Google directory (and shouldn't that be dmoz, given it's the original source of the content?)

"What I really hate is the hypocrisy of saying that they are in business to do 'good' and nonsense like that."

Don't all big businesses do that to one degree or another?


7:19 am on Sep 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

europeforvisitors and piney, please take a look at this discussion:

It will show you a few examples of G's corporate preferences on it SERPS.

Its not only me... its THE PEOPLE.



2:02 pm on Sep 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Carlitos, I saw that thread (indeed, I participated in it), and it's a red herring as far as this discussion is concerned.

sydney web designer

8:03 am on Sep 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

We have been exploring the issue of topical relevance on our own page.

The main issue is that we are < essentially one kind of company > but we specialise in alot of different things. Our solution is to contain our specialty services using link structure so that they are a third order link (the main page takes them to a second directory page, and then all of these pages are linked off that). These pages then link out onto the main page.

The result is the maximum relevance is kept on the main page as it only has a few out-bound links to other pages on the site, with all the limpet pages adding some relevance back to the main page. In other words the key to diversification and focusing on multiple categories is modularization and effective internal linking.

[edited by: tedster at 10:00 am (utc) on Sep. 13, 2007]


1:20 pm on Sep 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

20 results per page... there were tests for such a default setting before in Google... weren't there? And they canceled it. ( or was that an independent research? Can't recall. )

Is that a widespread occurrence?

And if you'll exclude the travel-only words from the queries, leaving only the destinations in there, you'll get some of it too I suppose... ( I did ). But it's all over the place since April.

Which... isn't limited to Universal Search btw. there actually seems to be an effort to inject data parallel and unrelated to that.


Something to consider:

Universal search is NOT the same issue of Google categorizing sites.

These are two different things.


Universal Search

With channels forced onto the previously web-only +/- AdWords SERPs, you have a pretty strange problem. You see, these channels are **not using the same algo**

With all the efforts put into creating spam and manipulation free Web Search results, this makes it just... funny.

-950, co-occurrence and all the achievements (?) at Web Search are pretty much limited to the classic SERPs.

... to put it mildly... not all of the included verticals ( news, blogs, books, videos, images, whatever ) are producing the most relevant results, at least not compared to the algo that uses 'over a hundred factors' to sort out what's good and what's not.

This brings out an interesting problem with Google: highlights the fact that they have been neglecting many of their own brands' ranking methods.

Taht's why they need(ed) to create new methods of mining data from their own databases for each. Something that's good enough to show on page 1.

Which again results in something interesting ( wow this is getting boring ).

With the data injected by the One Box technology / Universal Search sometimes you see the top 1-3 results of a list that's not public. well... try to reverse engineer that, huh?


As for types of sites... I've been assuming for the past one and a half year that if I could think of such a method, they did too. And have been optimizing / building the sites trusted to my care accordingly.

SEO instinct: continue business as usual until further notice... this autumn might show some huge changes

Oliver Henniges

4:59 pm on Sep 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

A few years ago I came across this search engine named clusty, which pursued exactly (?) this theme-grouping-approach: Clustering KWs according to relevant embracing terms. I never followed very much what happened to them and I never found a referrer from them in my logfiles, though my major kws are also spot #1 there.

Just had a brief look at it: It is still there, has a PR of 7 and its today's design pretty much indicates google simply took it over;)

Does anyone have any details?
IS this, what you mean, tedster?

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