Ladies and Gents,
Everybody read the leaked training manual right? I mean it's 125 pages of GOLDEN insight into the brain of how Google thinks... at least how one department trains it's employees. It is way more revealing than "in the plex" (arguably an interesting read)... and the manual is FREE, it only costs a little moral equity... as it was apparently not supposed to have been leaked.
What is your insight? What did you think about the manual?
Here are a couple of my insights:
1. People always say Google $%&$s on the little guy... Yelp being one of those complainers... The Manual talks about Yelp in good light... many times over. Interesting. +1 for Google.
In another light:
1. Google uses the manual to train employees how to rate websites. The sheer fact that they are training employees how to rate a website is introducing bias into their data. They are essentially telling the raters which sites to rate highly and which sites to bury.... meaning Google is "designing" the web, themselves. (which is counter to the organic growth of the web that they have hawked in the past.)
More on the above point with example:
Google says: 3 types of user intent:
1. Know (someone who wants to know something, think "SEO tips to game Google")
2. Do (someone who wants to do something, think "Buy SEO software")
3. Go (someone that wants to go somewhere, think "webmasterworld.com google seo news and discussion")
Then they show good examples of each of sites that answer the query according to the intent. The problem with the above methodology for training and "looking" for better search results is this:
Google is training people to NOT find unique/inspiring results... they are training people to look for homogenous results that SCREAM intent to the customer.
Think about it this way:
You are a trained rater from Google. You read a document on how to rate with examples of good: Amazon/Yelp/various other arguably good sites. You are trained to analyze a query for the three types of user intent: go/do/know... then you are given query after query with the resulting pages. Overtime your mind becomes numb to the sites... overtime with decision fatigue sinking in (incidentally look up an article about decision fatigue...it's really interesting); you start to not look at what is inspiring about the website... you are looking for the AMAZON signals... you as a human rater are annoyed by design because it makes your job, finding out what the site does, harder. You reward simplicity... you reward AMAZONIAN style sites... because that is what Google is looking for... because you are trying to do a GOOD job and your mind (after hours of analyzing sites) cannot handle looking into the intricacies of otherwise artistically designed, interesting websites that offer the consumer an inspired experience.
You as a rater have just passed over the Mona Lisa and listed it as only "slightly relevant" or worse, "not relevant".... Because there isn't a bright neon sign above it pointing down saying: "Masterpiece"
And for all of you raters out there (I actually know a couple), I'm not trying to say that you don't know what a masterpiece looks like... I'm trying to say that Google has trained you NOT TO LOOK for them...
And to Google, I don't know that you could get around it... and you know what they say... indecision killed the possum... You've got to do what you have to do. It's just an interesting by-product of trying to scale, I guess. There should be another search engine (in fact anybody who wants to start another search engine PM me,) that goes through looking for the artistic sites that people actually DO want to spend some time EXPERIENCING... the kind that raters would not have had the time/energy and training to look for!
What that means to me:
Start adding neon signs to the site... while keeping to our core of being different and interesting... for the consumers who care.... the people who like our site design and functionality! The people who aren't trying to figure out what we do... for the people who by virtue of our design want to be a part of what we do!