Relevance Is In The Eye Of The Searcher

Dec 17, 2003 • 7:07 am | comments (0) by | Filed Under Search Engine & SEO Theory

In a post on High Rankings Forum, member ProjectPHP takes complainers about Google's SERPS to task, chiding them for misusing the word relevance. I'd argue he's not using the word quite correctly either, but he certainly raises an interesting point. As SEOs, we spend so much time staring at the various search engines' results pages, and reading about all the underlying technology, and keeping up to date with the latest changes, and analyzing every change in the rankings of the keyphrases we care about, that it's very difficult to understand what the average search engine user is thinking. Later in the same thread on High Rankings, user Randy comments that three of his relatives have emailed him to ask why Google's not working. I have to point out that I was asked the same thing two weeks ago by a co-worker, who confessed he'd switched to using Dogpile. So, perhaps some users are unhappy with the new Google, like many webmasters. But we've got to be careful not to be too quick to seize triumphantly on these users and brandish them as an example of how we're right and Google's wrong. Because what, after all, is relevance?

It's not necessarily for the webmaster to decide, is what Google is telling us. But time will quickly tell whether the searchers feel Google's deciding properly on their behalf.

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