A common misconception exists. It states that Google’s search results are highly relevant, and light years ahead of other search engines.
The Google Algorithm
The Google ranking algorithm is simple. If you want top ranking for Viagra, go get a ton of inbound links using the anchor text Viagra. Simple.
The Inktomi Algorithm
The Inktomi algorithm considers anchor text, but spreads the weight out amongst other factors as well – notably keywords in the URL and body copy.
Google likes to include as many pages as it can find. Inktomi would rather not clutter its index with pages of little value.
This makes Google useful when conducting very specific searches – such as researching an individual. Inclusion of such pages may also clutter the index with pages which aren’t particularly high quality.
Inktomi’s ranking algorithm has changed over the past months, but compared to Google, Inktomi is extremely stable.
Google on the other hand is a drama queen. If Google isn’t implementing one half-baked filter this month, it’s sure to be implementing two half-baked filters next month.
Some recent Google drama included The Missing Index Page episode. This algo tweak caused index pages to go missing; e.g., a search for Beartooth Kawasaki would return the rather obscure “ATV Accessories” pages despite the fact that 200+ links are tell Google that www.BeartoothKawasaki.com is what they mean when they say “Beartooth Kawasaki”.
The missing index page fiasco has been seen in Google on a large scale more than once. Expect to see it again sometime in the near future.
Let’s not forget the expired domain filter, still in affect, which was mistakenly applied to many re-registered domains. Some perfectly good sites went from PR7 to PR0 and dropped from the index for no good reason.
The current episode of the day is the Blackhat / Whitehat spam bust. Thousands of perfectly good websites have simply vanished from the index. Do a search for Quality Web Hosting, and Quality Web Hosting is nowhere to be found. Skim through page after page after page, and it’s nowhere to be found.
Does it take a hundred PhD’s to match up Quality Web Hosting the site to Quality Web Hosting the search query? No – Inktomi makes the match just fine, as does Google on occasion.
The problem, simply said, is that Google is paranoid. They chance upon a relevant algorithm, and – like a hypochondriac – imagine the need for half-baked filters.
The only real criteria for judging the performance of an engine’s algorithm is the relevancy of the search results.
On Inktomi: Search Engine Optimization returns searchenginewatch.com.
On Google: Search Engine Optimization returns seoinc.com.
On Inktomi: Web Development returns www.devshed.com.
On Google: Web Development returns www.stars.com – a site which has absolutely nothing to do with web development.
On Inktomi: Quality Web Hosting returns Quality Web Hosting.
On Google: Quality Web Hosting returns www.pureideasplus.com – a page which does not include the words Quality Web Hosting.
Google will continue to implement half-baked filters. Google will continue to serve up less than relevant results. I can say this with confidence for one reason: Google is committed to broad algorithmic solutions to search quality issues.
As long as Google places an inordinate amount of weight on any single factor such as anchor text, aggressive site promoters can play that factor to their benefit.
As long as SEO’s play those factors, Google will retaliate by shooting from the hip and taking down 1,000 good sites with the one guilty site.
And in the end, their index is still full of trash.