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May 21, 2008

SEO Headlines – Search Quality

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Google Talks Generically About Search Quality

Search marketers were treated to an Introduction to Google Search Quality by Udi Manber on the Official Google Blog yesterday afternoon that offered a glimpse into the Google’s search technology. The post is both long and meaty so I’m going to follow the pack and simply pick out some of my favorite snippets. Here’s what I think you should be aware of from Udi’s post:

  • The reason ranking is hard is because languages are inherently ambiguous, and documents do not follow any set of rules. There are really no standards for how to convey information, so we need to be able to understand all web pages, written by anyone, for any reason.
  • Google’s ranking algorithm includes different models including:
    • Language models: The ability to handle phrases, synonyms, diacritics, spelling mistakes, and so on.
    • Query models: It’s not just the language, it’s how people use it today.
    • Time models: Some queries are best answered with a 30-minutes old page, and some are better answered with a page that stood the test of time.
    • Personalized models: Not all people want the same thing.
  • Significant changes were made to the PageRank algorithm in January.
  • Google is making automated evaluations to its search technology every minute.
  • In 2007, Google released “450 new improvements, about 9 per week on the average,” to the algorithm alone.

Lots of good nuggets there. Google says they’re going to work harder to be transparent, but we’ll have to wait and see. I can’t see them giving away much more information than what is in this post. In other words, I’m on Team Joe Duck.

Zappos Pays Passionless Employees To Quit

Zappos sure is establishing itself as the company whose success you most want to emulate. Bill Taylor from Harvard Business Publishing decided to spend some time with the company to see if he they had any valuable insight to pass on. And it seems they did. One of the most interesting things Bill learned from his time at Zappos is this:

“[Zappos] provides a four-week training period that immerses [new hires] in the company’s strategy, culture, and obsession with customers. People get paid their full salary during this period.
After a week or so in this immersive experience, though, it’s time for what Zappos calls “The Offer.” The fast-growing company, which works hard to recruit people to join, says to its newest employees: “If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you’ve worked, plus we will offer you a $1,000 bonus.” Zappos actually bribes its new employees to quit!”

Why do they do that? Because if you’re the kind of person who would take the money, you’re not the kind Zappos wants on their team anyway. Where’s the commitment and passion for the job? It’s a pretty wise business model. Just think of all the money they’re saving by getting rid of the dead weight right from the beginning. Maybe this week you should go around your offices offering your employees a check and see if they’re willing to jump. :) Heh. Interesting stuff indeed.

Fun Finds

Jane Copland jumps in on the Lyndoman link bait controversy and almost sways my vote, but fails. :) To be honest, I’m not sure where I stand on the ethics of link bait. As Jane says, people have been lying on the Internet for years, but then again, do we really want to be those people? I don’t think so. I vote for setting a higher standard.

VKI Studios posted a great interview with Todd Malicoat on the topic of link bait.

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One response to “SEO Headlines – Search Quality”

  1. Catfish SEO writes:

    Just goes to show you that basing SEO strategies on algo loopholes is a hard business to be in

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