Today’s tech blogOsphere buzz is about Google’s new wiki search feature that allows users to rank their own results. This appears to me to be a splendid idea although I agree with some who say it won’t get used much.
However, for those who use this it may eventually allow a kind of search ranking we have never seen, where user defined preferences trump the mysterious algorithmic magic mistakes, gradually giving the user a great set of results well optimized to their needs.
I’d suggest that “perfect individualized search” may only require two basic steps – the first is a *discovery* part where you surface content relevant to your particular query and then plow through that manually to determine which sites best fit your needs. Google does a pretty good job of facilitating that right now. However a second piece would allow you to build on those “personally filtered” results in various ways – some as simple as just listing them in rough order of relevance to you as Google is now doing.
Is this a good Google idea? Yes! Will anybody much use this? Nope, because our habits as humans don’t incline us to be this organized. I had a great conversation a few days ago with the developer of Reuters Calais semantic search – a brilliant tool designed to surface relevancy and meaning from massive document archives. We were noting how difficult is is to simply break the habit of using Google search, even when it’s not the most appropriate tool for the job at hand.
Funny primates we !
Google Blog reports on the new search wiki
This post falls squarely in the “SEO Experiments” category. We’ve had an informative but “plain jane” Oregon Coast website up for some time based on Oregon Coast magazine which is published by Northwest Travel Magazines.
The site has historically ranked poorly for “Oregon Coast” and related terms, probably in part because we had never done much to optimize it for search engines, and (I think) partly because quite ironically Google now struggles to properly optimize websites that have extensive internal cross linking. Ironic because extensive linking was a cornerstone of early web quality but fell out of ranking fashion as Google sought to kill off auto-generated websites that used that technique to boost their pagerank and thereby their Google rank for optimized query terms. This became a spam signal because it is so easy to create large database driven websites, but in the case of many sites it is also a good *quality signal* because the site may be very info rich, covering basically every mile of the Oregon Coast Highway 101 in good, objective detail. Google recognizes they’ve created a lot of collateral damage in this way but frankly they have not done much to fix the problem, basically feeling that there is enough “good content” that ranks well. This is wrong and unfortunate, and in travel it has led to a lot of mediocre results when better search would give detailed blog and website references to pages spawned, for example, by people who live in the place getting described and have extensive insider detail.
One part of the optimization has been to rename the site OregonCoastTravel.net and 301 redirect the old pages at 101MilebyMile.com to the new name, hoping to rank better for “Oregon Coast” and “Oregon Coast Travel” as we should.
I’m linking here to the Oregon Coast birding page because it is a straggler that has been 301 redirected to OregonCoastTravel.net but remains listed by Google at the old site. Also, it is an excellent resource page for that topic of Oregon Coast Birding. I want to see how fast this page will now be correctly reindexed.