Friday, November 16, 2007

Finding relevancy

When you look in the telephone yellow pages, certain businesses are shown more prominently than others. This is because the advertisers pay more to be shown larger or more creatively. This has nothing at all to do with the actual value or quality of the advertiser. The advertiser with the smallest line ad in the yellow pages might turn out to be the very best choice. With the telephone yellow pages, then, it’s all about money and nothing else.

What Google is trying to do is very different from the above yellow pages example. Here we are not talking about the paid advertising that Google sells, but rather the free search engine service that Google provides in order to get eyes for its advertisers.

In this regard, Google has an ongoing quest to find ways to return the most relevant content, the most relevant websites about the search subject, to their user-searcher. This is admirable. This is exactly what Google should be doing. The problem arises when a search of a million websites on a particular subject turns up ten thousand sites that are particularly relevant to the search words, and maybe a thousand sites that are really really what the searcher asked for. Now what?

Well, at that point you of course show the searcher the names of all of the thousand really relevant websites. Indeed, you show them the whole million websites, for that matter. The question then becomes in what order do you show the thousand relevant sites? When you have a thousand sites, or certainly several hundred sites, that equally meet your search criteria, and you can only show about a half-dozen on the first page above the fold, which do you choose to be placed in that hugely favored position?

More to follow.

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