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Tech: Google search algorithm

Hamish 21 Jul 10 - 03:46 AM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Jul 10 - 05:01 AM
Nick 21 Jul 10 - 05:19 AM
buddhuu 21 Jul 10 - 05:23 AM
pavane 21 Jul 10 - 05:24 AM
GUEST,Ed 21 Jul 10 - 05:35 AM
buddhuu 21 Jul 10 - 05:41 AM
treewind 21 Jul 10 - 06:33 AM
Nick 21 Jul 10 - 08:09 AM
Nick 21 Jul 10 - 08:30 AM
treewind 21 Jul 10 - 09:33 AM
buddhuu 21 Jul 10 - 11:04 AM
buddhuu 21 Jul 10 - 11:09 AM
Hamish 22 Jul 10 - 02:34 AM
Hamish 22 Jul 10 - 02:37 AM
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Subject: Tech: Google search algorithm
From: Hamish
Date: 21 Jul 10 - 03:46 AM

Does anybody know how this currently works? It still uses numbers of links to a page or site to assess significance/how worthwhile the page/site is, I'm sure. And H1 tags are given priority as are page titles. But does it then apply your own preferences/habits, too?

I ask because the same search on my daughter's PC produced different results from those on my PC. Plus I know that Google does accumulate profiles of the sorts of things that you mention in Gmail or often search for. So I get adverts for ukuleles and folk festivals and suchlike.

Cheers


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Subject: RE: Tech: Google search algorithm
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Jul 10 - 05:01 AM

If you trash your Google cookies, it might change.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Google search algorithm
From: Nick
Date: 21 Jul 10 - 05:19 AM

One thing to be aware of, Hamish, is, I believe, that the searches are not returned from one place which is why you can get different results from the same search even on the same machine seconds apart. There are various different groups of servers returning results and it depends which one is returning the results.

As they are quite shrewd I'm sure that they return ads that reflect your browsing habits.

They are also very secretive. The company I work for have been doing some work with them and you can ask questions up to a point and then the shutters come down and they go 'that's how it is...' and that's your lot. Very entertaining.

The one thing that I do know that it does not take a blind bit of notice of if a site changes or not. I have a site that has sat in number 1 position on google in a category of 4,500,500 results and nothing at all has changed in it for something like 5 years.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Google search algorithm
From: buddhuu
Date: 21 Jul 10 - 05:23 AM

At my day job I'm a search engine optimisation wallah. Google does return different results to different computers based on a number of things. If you're signed into a Google account you will sometimes see different results than when signed out. There is also a geographical variation and occasionally inconsistencies depending on which data-centre handles your query.

As for the search ranking algorithm, Google's algo is still based on the PageRank model, where the number of links into a site is seen as an indicator of quality, but there are more than 100 elements in addition to that, and Google, not surprisingly, does not publish details as they think people like me will exploit the information.

Other things that influence the ranking of websites in G search results: age of website/domain, quality of inbound links, relevance of inbound links, presence of keywords in domain name, age of inbound links and the pages that bear them...

On page stuff does, as you say, include HTML titles (the most important on-page element), heading tags etc.

Ranking factors don't have any bearing on the variation you see between computers though.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Google search algorithm
From: pavane
Date: 21 Jul 10 - 05:24 AM

Also you can pay to have your site at the top of the list.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Google search algorithm
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 21 Jul 10 - 05:35 AM

Also you can pay to have your site at the top of the list.

That isn't correct. You can pay for top position on 'AdWords' but not the main listing.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Google search algorithm
From: buddhuu
Date: 21 Jul 10 - 05:41 AM

Heh heh... You can pay me to get your site to top of the list! LOL.

Ed is right. The sponsored Adwords links are the ones where you can buy a place. Even those aren't as simple as you might think... Ad quality, clickthrough rate etc affect position and cost of those.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Google search algorithm
From: treewind
Date: 21 Jul 10 - 06:33 AM

"does it then apply your own preferences/habits, too?"
Yes. That's one of the things it uses cookies for.

"it does not take a blind bit of notice of if a site changes or not"
I've read elsewhere that it does. Frequently updated content is taken as an indication of an interesting site and scores some page ranking points.
Nick - your site may be #1 in your Google listings for other reasons.
For one thing, if it gets hits via Google (i.e. people actually follow the link and visit your site) I'm sure Google will raise your score compared with sites that don't get those click-throughs.

They have to be a bit secretive, I suppose, or they'll help competitors and also help webmasters to cheat on their SEO tweaks.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Google search algorithm
From: Nick
Date: 21 Jul 10 - 08:09 AM

>>Nick - your site may be #1 in your Google listings for other reasons.

To be candid I've never really considered it too much. It's there and gets about 4-500 visitors a day as it has for the last 7 years (used to get many more before I stopped updating it in 2003). It amuses me as to how long it will stay there or not.

As an aside I did once complain to google that they had been horrifically spammed by alt.com which had figured out how to cram huge numbers of results on the first few pages of loads of categories and they tweaked something so that the world returned to 'normal'.

They are definitely not fond of people having phone numbers of employees though and trying to talk to them :)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Google search algorithm
From: Nick
Date: 21 Jul 10 - 08:30 AM

I seem to have it in mind that they put a patent in and hence revealed a certain number of things along with a lot of red herrings. There is an article here about it. Interesting what it says about linking to sites. I used to choose manually every site that I linked to and never used a Link Exchange and used to NOT link to many people who wanted me to if I didn't like the site.

It amuses me given that I have never spent a halfpenny on it nor know a thing about it. As it's in a quite highly contested and search savvy area it's entertaining that it stays there and has done for 8 years.

Search Engine optimisation by mistake! It also ranks as highly across all the other search engines too which I would guess is down to its google position partially.

I used to be an editor on dmoz.org (which I know few people have heard of) which was interesting as they were very keen that entries were correctly added and described because of the influence they had - even with google.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Google search algorithm
From: treewind
Date: 21 Jul 10 - 09:33 AM

"Search Engine optimisation by mistake!"
I don't know - as suggested by your linked document, creating the site honestly and sensibly is the best way and what Google does all it can to encourage. If you've learnt how to use HTML properly and have some good content the job's done.

What is your site - presumably it has content that's useful to a lot of people?

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Tech: Google search algorithm
From: buddhuu
Date: 21 Jul 10 - 11:04 AM

Strength of competition is where the difference lies.

If your site is not in too hotly contested an arena then it is more than possible to rank well without doing any conscious SEO. Build your site well and add good content, then so long as a certain number of people know about you they will link to your great content. Other people will find you through those links and then some of them will link to your great content. After a while you have enough links for Google to consider you worth ranking.

That is the "ideal" way to get a well-ranked site. It's the very essence of how G's PageRank idea works.

When one operates in a very competitive vertical or niche, then all bets are off as far as doing things the "right" way is concerned. Many of the old "black hat" techniques no longer work. Reciprocal link exchanges were all the rage a few years back due to a famous study called "Linking Matters". That soon got nuked, and reciprocal swaps no longer work as they used to. A lot of other stuff has also fallen by the wayside.

These days it is both simpler and harder (?!) to rank well!

As for Google patents, I have copies of a whole heap of them. They cover everything from the original PageRank algo to methods of scoring online documents according to their history and the history of their link profile...

Google is a clever company with search, its core product. Basically it honestly does just try to return the best possible results for the user. IMHO, it is still a far better engine than Yahoo, Bing, Ask or any of the others.

It's not great for paranoiacs though. I use Google as my homepage and for my email. Unless I take the occasional precaution, Google would soon have enough profile data on me to write my biography...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Google search algorithm
From: buddhuu
Date: 21 Jul 10 - 11:09 AM

Nick: "It also ranks as highly across all the other search engines too which I would guess is down to its google position partially."

Oddly, what works for one engine doesn't always work for the others, and it can be hard to balance them. Most of my clients' sites rank well in Google, Yahoo and Bing, but there are a couple that have top Google positions and fair Bing results, but which Yahoo seems to dislike as they perform poorly in it.

Depending upon whom and when you ask, Google has 70% - 80% of search market share. If someone can choose just one engine to optimise for in order to hit the biggest audience, Google is the one.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Google search algorithm
From: Hamish
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 02:34 AM

Thanks for all those answers: most illuminating. I seems to me that I've done pretty well by having a domain name which is reasonably memorable, relevant and unusual in that it's my name! It's also in the H1 tag and page heading. But none of that applied to the search that raised the question. We were searching on my daughter's name and found her listed against her summer job at an academic centre. On one PC she was quite high up; on the other she was much lower down. More likely the different server business in that case, I'd guess. Oddly enough, by adding the research centre's name, she pretty much disappeared from the list - as extra hits for that cntre - and other sites with similar initials - muddied the waters.

Cheers


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Subject: RE: Tech: Google search algorithm
From: Hamish
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 02:37 AM

...whereas putting her name in double quotes and adding the centre's name produces a single direct hit.


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