Andrew Orlowski, Google Did Not Admit To Hand Picking Top Results

Dec 15, 2008 • 7:52 am | comments (2) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine

Google cranks up the Consensus Engine by Andrew Orlowski at The Register completely took Marissa Mayer's comments out of context when he wrote in his introductory line:

Google this week admitted that its staff will pick and choose what appears in its search results. It's a historic statement - and nobody has yet grasped its significance.

Marissa did not admit that. She said at a LeWeb conference in Paris that Google may look at SearchWiki data and use that data to influence the search results. Specifically, if "thousands of people" remove a result using SearchWiki, then Google might take notice. She did not say if Google would have Google staff "pick and choose" search results. I, as others, assumed that any SearchWiki changes to the core index would be done algorithmically, not by hand.

To say Google "staff will pick and choose what appears in its search results" is a "historic statement" is false. Because, (1) Google did not say this and (2) many speculate there is human involvement in the Google index, to some extent. Google has been open about their human evaluators in the past and there has always been rumors of Google picking the top results for the most important categories. This might just add to those rumors, but it is not an admission.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld, Search Engine Watch Forums and DigitalPoint Forums.

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Michael Martinez

12/15/2008 05:29 pm

Well, the article did strike me as being a bit over the top but as many SEOs have noted in the past, any hand-edit by Google constitutes human adjustment of the SERPs -- and they have performed MANY hand-edits through the years. Googlers HAVE been picking and choosing what gets to appear in search results for a long, long time and that is not about to change, based on the publicly available information concerning their processes and procedures. But MOST of their SERPs do appear to be largely algorithmically determined.


12/17/2008 05:01 pm

Michael, this is very big news indeed. Did you get past the first sentence? "Mayer also talked about Google’s use of user data created by actions on Wiki search to improve search results on Google in general. For now that data is not being used to change overall search results, she said. But in the future it’s likely Google will use the data to at least make obvious changes. An example is if “thousands of people” were to knock a search result off a search page, they’d be likely to make a change." It sounds like you're trying to avoid a major policy change at Google by arguing that it hasn't happened yet. SEOs will now need to play the "social search" game too.

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