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Robots vs Humans: The Core Question of Search Engines

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Robots vs Humans: The Core Question of Search Engines

The headlines on Google-related news stories recently haven’t all been kind. Some of them contain language like: “Why we need a better Google”; “Is Google going the way of Yahoo” (what a jab!); “Most Google users concerned with spam”; etc. There’s no doubt at this point that Google’s major problem is the relevancy of its search results, with more and more of the SERP being taken by “gamed” links — pages that paid optimizers to get them into high position, but which aren’t relevant or useful to the actually search topic. Gamed links are inevitable, however, with any automated system. That leads us to the core question of the search engines in this new decade: Is it time to give search engines a human brain rather than a robotic one?

According to a CNN article, this all started thanks to an article by Paul Kedrosky who complained about his inability to find any dishwasher pages that were legitimate, informational, and useful — simply because there were so many sales sites that had pushed their way up to the top. These “pseudo-spam” links were competitive selling sites trying to become popular among less relevant keywords, and they almost certainly did it through content farms. After Kedrosky’s complaints, dozens of other articles echoed his concerns, with some even predicting the eventual downfall of Google due to spam.

Of course, this question isn’t new, either. It was the big question when Yahoo and Google were going head-to-head, but that time around, Google won the battle with its brainy robotics; Yahoo’s directory faded. Currently, the human-constructed directories (including the Google directory DMOZ) aren’t doing incredibly well either. However, it may just be a matter of form. Blekko, a search engine run by human evaluation and a “wiki-like” approach to their SERP has been receiving lots of praise in contrast to the complaints about Google’s results.

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Rob D Young

Rob has been insatiably obsessed with Google, search engine technology, and the trends of the web-based world since he began ... [Read full bio]

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