Monday, March 4, 2013

Thinking Like a Search Engine (part 3)

Formerly, one of the most popular search terms was "Britney Spears." It may occur to a Webmaster of a business opportunity site that if he adds "Britney Spears" to his keywords, he will increase traffic to his page and perhaps get more signups. But, as a search engine operator, you would have a problem with this Webmaster. You want your search engine visitors to find the pages they are looking for. If some young man is looking for a page discussing Britney Spears and finds business opportunity sites, your search engine has not done a good job. The young man, being unhappy, will take his search engine business elsewhere (so to speak) and your search engine will lose popularity. Thus, as a search engine operator, you are at cross purposes with these Webmasters who want to cheat with their keywords. Because you want that zillion dollar retirement, you are dang sure going to figure out ways to deal with them.
Now let's return to our "Saturn" example and say that a space probe launched by the United States has just gone into orbit around Saturn and is returning images from the planet's surface. NASA is publishing these images on the Internet as they come in. For a period of time before, during, and after these pictures are coming in, the word "Saturn" becomes a hot search term. People are going to search engines and trying to find sites where they can see these pictures of Saturn as they are downloaded from the space probe. A business opportunity Webmaster, being aware of this, decides to add "Saturn" as a keyword to his or her new Website. It will increase traffic to his site to add this keyword. But, the keyword has no relevance to his actual site, as he does not provide the NASA pictures on his site or any other information about Saturn. If your search engine does not catch and correct this attempt to cheat, your search engine will be ineffective. People who are trying to find the real sites with the Saturn pictures will become frustrated using your search engine because all they are finding are business opportunity pages which have nothing to do with Saturn. They will quit using your search engine and your goal of having one of the most popular search engines on the Internet will be defeated. Thus, as a search engine operator, you have to develop means to detect this keyword cheating.
The various search engines do exactly that in various ways. Search engine operators are constantly trying to improve their means of detecting such cheating. They closely guard the algorithms they use to do this as industrial secrets because if they become widely known, people will find ways around them.
When search engines detect people cheating, they can exclude the page from the search engine (and even any future submissions from the same person or company), give it a very low overall ranking, or give it a low or non-existent ranking with respect to the offending keywords.
Since we are never going to know with certainty how the search engines actually go about detecting keyword relevance and ranking sites, at least at any particular point in time, all we can do is imagine that we are the search engine operator and think how we would go about doing those things.

from George Little's Internet Income Course. Register to SFI for free and get immediate access to the complete 79-part course.

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