What is eval.google.com? The mystery subdomain has been puzzling webmasters and SEOs alike since its discovery. Well Henk Van Ess claims to have the answer. What’s the secret of Eval?
Soylent Google is people. That’s right. According to Van Ess’ new blog Search Bistro, the secret behind the mysteriously blank page is Rater Hub Google, humans who are paid to search and rate the results based on relevancy.
Nathan Weinberg at Inside Google has some reservations about the tell-all blog, noting the self-congratulatory tone and self-submitted Slashdotting. He comes down on the side of it being legit however.
It’s not a far-fetched idea, after all and definitely not a new one. Probably it’s not that new even at Google. After all, they claim that users define their services, what better way than to create their own group of testers to monitor like television stations do for ratings?
UPDATE: Just ran across a post from Phillip at Google Blogoscoped on this and wanted to quote him.
…even if this laboratory is for real – it certainly seems so – this doesn’t mean Google Inc manually changes rankings. It only means Google manually checks search quality to fine-tune their ranking algorithms; this is neither new, nor secret or scandal. (And of course, those algorithms are written by humans as well, but they certainly wouldn’t fix problems on a per-search-query or per-site basis. There’s too many web pages anyway to make this approach feasible.)