Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Relearning Semantics from Humans

So many people ask me how to optimize a page for search. What are the fundamentals? There are so many articles and blog posts on the fundamentals, but for starters I'd recommend reading the SEO guidelines directly from the main search engines. Google has great SEO advice on their site. Lycos, Yahoo and MSN have SEO advice too. Google's basic instruction is to make the page useful and trust the algorithm. While there's no substitute for good writing, it's still fun to know how Google makes its decisions.

This morning I read an article in Wired,"How Google's Algorithm Rules the Web", and I want to share it with you so you can understand how complicated and how elegant Google's algorithm actually is.

I work on search a fair amount, a lot actually, for someone who is more involved in search optimization (than  in search algorithms) for an occupation. We've tested a zillion different things with our search tools and with our data and our page layouts and content. After years of testing I've concluded there's always tradeoffs and no one way to do search "right". But at the end of the day, if you return relevant results, you've done a good job; and suffice to say that means you've got a good search if for most of the people most of the time, the results are what they want. Every kind of data has peculiarities that make one-size-fits-all approaches problematic. The Wired article refers to this aspect of search saying in effect that Twitter and Bing are trying to exploit niches where Google is not that strong.

If you are expert at search, or optimization or if you are just starting out, please read the article from Wired.