Talking tech since 2003

I don’t think anyone (especially a reader of a blog such as BestTechie) would argue against the statement that the Internet has changed the way we as a society function and live.  While finding information only a matter of years ago meant consulting books and visiting a library, Internet users are now able to do a vast majority of their research online.  Not only does this give the end-user the benefit of saving a substantial amount of time in research, but it also opens the doors for more and more people (such as myself) to share information and opinions, meaning that someone doing research into a particular topic or subject can have access to as much information as possible – all without breaking a sweat.

With seas of information readily available on the Internet, it is important for users to be able to find the most relevant information online without sifting through piles of information on their own.  This is where the concept of search engines – the mechanisms that index and allow us to search the Internet – come into play.

As it stands today, Google is the largest search engine on the web; handling over four-hundred million search queries from millions of users around the world on a daily basis.  But why do all of these users flock to Google?  While brand recognition – the fact that users think of Google before competitors such as Bing and Yahoo – plays a big role in driving Google’s traffic, the fact of the matter is that Google’s entire search venture is built around one single concept: relevance.  Using Google a multitude of times each day, I come to expect Google to deliver the most relevant result for my search query in the first few results.  If Google fails to meet this expectation, which is held by millions upon millions of users worldwide, the search engine is dead in the water.

But how does Google determine which pages are the most relevant?  The technology, called “PageRank“, is the proprietary algorithm that allows Google’s search service to show you what it determines to be the most relevant results.  And while I wish I could tell you exactly how it works, the fact of the matter is that PageRank is one of Google’s most valuable and well-protected trade secrets.  Getting to the top of Google’s search results is a goal of webmasters big and small, and has driven the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) industry to become the multi-billion dollar industry that it is today.  By trying to wrap their minds around just how PageRank ticks, web developers make continuous efforts into making their pages and their content look more appetizing to Google, ideally returning better rankings and more traffic to their sites.

The problem in websites trying to “trick” Google’s indexing algorithm to better represent a website is that it has the potential to alter the search results in a negative fashion for the end-user by placing lesser relevant entries towards the top of the results page.  Simply put, this means more sifting through results for end users.  For Google, the lack of accurate and relevant results could be even more catastrophic – even to the point of crumbling the search engine as it stands.

Why is all of this important though?  You see, more and more users have become angered by Google’s poor and irrelevant search results, which seem to have only worsened in recent months.  To me, this indicates that Google’s PageRank and indexing technologies have become a bit outdated and are failing to deliver the accurate results that we as Internet users have come to expect from Google.

While this isn’t a big deal at this point in time, I honestly feel that Google could easily be succeeded by another search engine if they fail to fix the issues that are causing irrelevant results.  Having said this, I think that many people see Google as a strong search engine simply because of their relevant results, and would be more willing to evaluate using other search engines if Google were to become dull on this strongpoint.

However, I am very confident that Google will be able to resolve these problems and implement some sort of damage control in the near future to prevent search results from becoming irrelevant and spam infested.  With this in mind, Google’s recent announcement that co-founder Larry Page will step up to succeed Eric Schmidt as the CEO of the company comes at the perfect time.  You see, Page – who originally developed the PageRank algorithm which is named after him – is now in a more powerful position to oversee the company and potentially resurrect Google’s now lacking indexing and ranking technology.

Google has their work cut out for them.  And while it will definitely take a significant amount of effort on their end to fix the trend of less than relevant search results, I stand confident that the company has the resources and motivation to improve their search services.  After all, no matter what ventures Google takes, their heart – and their business structure – is in search technology, and it would be foolish of them to let it go downhill.

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