Thursday, August 30, 2012

Google and Links

I have read over the years Matt Cutts (Google Guy) say that as long as you don't get paid cash other things that would have the exact same indication whether a link should be trusted are not penalized.  So if you bought the entire site and then added links to link to you (as large companies can do) that is fine (so if some large company buys a small company and then links to the corporate parent).  But paying a fee and getting links is not.

Similarly if you pay a speaker to speak at your conference and they add a link to your site I think Google says is fine.  Or if you win a scholarship and you link to the sponsor or the school from your site that is fine.  And in my opinion all 3 of those obviously should be fine.  They provide valuable insight I would want to include if I were deciding what are relevant links.

Google is trying to collect useful data from the web to make judgements for search rankings.  They decided that to make their jobs easier it would be better to stop some forms of influence in adding links.  But there are no clear sensible places to draw the lines.  So Google uses what people used to call FUD by Microsoft (casting fear, uncertainty and doubt) to aid Google's interests.

Google has a tricky task to try and decide what links to give value to.  Their decisions on how to treat certain kinds of influence seems wrong to me.  But it seems to be something they can chose to do.  Google also claims (I believe) that they don't bother to value links that would obviously provide value if those links are made nofollow by the websites (so say the links on Twitter that would obviously be useful to gage pagerank as it was discussed years ago).

Google seems to still claim that they are better off not using links that could be used by an algorithm to provide valuable insight because to do so would downplay their anti-spam efforts.  It is a hard spot they are in.   Until another search engine takes away a significant portion of their traffic I think they will stay on their current model.  If grew to 8% of the market by December I bet Google would use nofollow links to judge merits of links next to immediately.  It is a rich source of information that is being ignored.  They decide the search result quality can sustain that dilution in order to put pressure on those that try to manipulate the results by playing to the algorithms.

It is a dynamic, evolving contest where Google tries to gain insight and others try to figure out how to take advantage of how Google gains insight to gain favor for themselves.

Google can't say how people should run their businesses.  All Google says is if you link to sites in a way that we don't like we will then punish your site in our search results.  Of course that clearly means that Google is willing to provide worse results to users in the case when the best results for you as a search user are from a site that did something that Google didn't like.  As long as search users accept degrade search results Google can do this.  If degraded search results caused users to flee Google they would stop this method of trying to influence sites.

But they have a tricky balance of trying to degrade the search results just enough to force sites into being fearful of having their traffic harmed but not so much that users of the search engine get tired of the degraded results and go elsewhere.  The punishment portion is solely about the trading of worse search results to users today in order to get sites to follow the behavior Google wants to see.

The question of Google improving search results by devaluing links that are not valuable is a different, though related, question.  That doesn't result in degraded search results.  But that also has nothing to do with a site following Google's decision on where to draw the line of what is an influence that means you should mark your web links to tell Google that you don't value the page you are linking to.  Deciding how much to value links is a tricky business.  Google has a lot of money invested in doing that well.  The decided to have guidelins and punishment in search results for how links are done.  That seems to be Google's business.  If you want them to be happy with you, you follow their guidelines.  So for example if you want to get links you can do so in many ways, including many ways that are very similar to directly purchasing them but you can't do the one that is exactly directly purchasing them and not tell google that they shouldn't follow the link.

I am obviously critical of some of what Google is doing FUD :-) but I understand the difficult task they have.  I can understand the way they are trying to tilt the terms of the "game" to help them provide search results that are useful.  I am sure Google understands the points I make.  They just look at the situation and make a few calls that are slightly different than I would make.

Comment posted on: Why did our PageRank go down?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Remove Popup Ad Sites From Search Results

My feedback to DuckDuckGo:

I would like to be able to have popup ad sites flagged/removed. 
Maybe let me set no popups (then on the far right column (or something) show the sites you skipped because they are flagged as popup ads so I can click them if I don't like any of the non-user-hostile sites. 
Obviously this means getting a list of popup sites and maintaining it.  Would be a challenge but would great improve search results.  Lots of the big sites now are using popup ads (just ones that get around the users opting out of popup ads on their browser).
I would love it if the other sites (Google, Yahoo, Bing) would do this too, but Google is not likely to unless they are copying one of the others.  I understand sties want to make money by using popup ads even if they know users said don't do it (using browser settings).  This is why all the major sites now use popup ads that circumvent the browser settings).  I don't mind the sites choosing to how readable or customer unfriendly they want to be.  I just wish search engines wouldn't give me results as if popup ads are no a negative that should reduce the suggestion of using a site.

Related:  6 years Later Goolge Acts To Let Me Block Sites I don't want to see from 2011, does anyone else have this missing most of the time now? - Improvement ideas for Google (2006) - Web Search Improvements (2005)

Friday, August 10, 2012

PageRank Updates for August 2012

The pagerank google displays is mainly a fun measure, rather than a measure of much importance. But I still find it fun to look at the pagerank values - except when they go down for my sites :-(  Now I also track the similar MozRank and can take some solace if the MozRank goes up :-)

Pagerank is a value given to the links coming into a web page on a logarithmic scale. So a PR of 2 is 10 times greater than PR 1 and 100 less than PR 4. MozRank is a similar measure, developed by a separate company that is updated much more frequently. See more details on this topic in my previous post: Google PageRank and MozRank of some of my pages (Oct 2011).

Google updates the visible PageRank occasionally (often about every 3 months). The real pagerank Google updates much more frequently (it is only the pagerank shared with the rest of us that is only updated occasionally.

Check the current pagerank on your sites using our related site: Multiple Site PageRank checker.

SiteAug 2012
Oct 2011April 2011Dec 2010Dec 2008July 2008
PageRank 5 and MozRank > 5
Curious Cat Management Blog5 [5.6]
John Hunter5 [5.6]4 [5.4]4444
Curiouscat.com5 [5.6]4 [5.6]5433
Curious Cat Engineering and Science Blog5 [5.5]6 [5.3]6455
CSS 4 Free5 [5.5]4 [5.4]4445
Management Dictionary*5 [5.3]5 [5.4]5433
Public Sector Continuous Improvement Site*5 [4.9]5 [4.97]54
PageRank 4 and MozRank > 5
Curious Cat Management Improvement Connections*4 [5.5]5 [5.5]5433
Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog4 [5.5]4 [5.3]4344
Investment Dictionary*4 [5.4]4 [5.2]4 - internship directory4 [5.2]4 [5.2]4444
Curious Cat Travel Photo Blog4 [5.2]3 [4.9]3-
Statistics for Experimenters4 [5.1]3 [4.5]3434
The Future is Engineering*4 [5.2]4 [4.7]55
Alumni Connections*4 [5.2]4 [5.0]4445
Credit Card Tips*4 [5.1]4 [4.6]3
Management and Leadership Quotes4 [5.1]2 [5.2]22
Lean Management Resources*4 [5.0]4 [5.0]44
Six Sigma Management Resources*4 [5.0]4 [5.0]4
PageRank 4 and MozRank > 4
PDSA Improvement Cycle*4 [4.8]4 [4.9]4
Curious Cat Code (programming)4 [4.8]4 [4.2]00
Life and Legacy of William Hunter (my father)4 [4.8]4 [4.5]444
Curious Cat Gadgets4 [4.8]--
Living in Singapore4 [4.7]3 [4.0]-
Multi Site PageRank Checker4 [4.5]3 [4.7]2213
Mortgage Rate Article*4 [4.5]4 [3.8]4
Curious Cat Web Directory4 [4.5]4 [4.7]**334
PageRank 3 and MozRank > 3
The Engineer That Made Your Cat a Photographer*3 [5.2]4 [4.7]543
Curious Cat Travel Destinations3 [4.8]-----
Hexawise Software Testing Blog3 [4.9]----
Living in Malaysia3 [4.8]3 [4.1]-
Rocky Mountain National Park photos*3 [4.8]4 [4.8]4 3-2
Deming's Management Method*3 [4.7]4 [4.5]44
Architecture and home design inspiration3 [4.6]--
Good Process Improvement Practices*3 [4.3]3 [3.8]
Curious Cat Management Comments3 [4.2]
Management Improvement Resources3 [4.2]3 [3.8]333
Curious Cat Comments (this blog)3 [4.1]- [3.8]-33
Best Research University Rankings*3 [4.1]3 [3.8]334
PageRank 2 and MozRank > 2 (or no MozRank for new pages)
Johor Bahru Real Estate2 [4.6]--
Curious Cat Travel Destinations: Marina Bay Sands (Singapore)2 [4.6]-----
Curious Cat Travel Destinations: France2 [4.1]-----
Parfrey's Glen, Wisconsin Photos2 [3.7]2 [3.8]22-
CuriousCat Wordpress2 [3.3]-----
Justin Hunter (my brother)2 [4.1]2 [2.9]222
No PageRank
Economic Strength Through Technology Leadership*u [5.2]4 [4.7]544
My Kiva pageu [4.1]- [4.0]-3
Reddit management*u [4.0]4 [u]740
Curious Cat Travel Destinations: Australiau [3.9] ***

* internal pages
** new url, old url forwarded
*** (May 2012) 2 [-]
- didn't exist yet
u unranked
[blank] I don't know what the pagerank was, sometimes the site didn't exist yet.

Related: PageRank Updates for May 2012 - Web Page Authority - Google's Search Results - Should Factors Other Than User Value be Used

Friday, August 03, 2012

Systems Design Can Create Perverse Incentives

My comments on comment on my comment on The Two Root Causes of Everything?
“...the system is encouraging the bad behavior...” Such as the current Olympic games, with the badminton players throwing matches to get a better paths toward the medal round. It’s poor sportsmanship and poor ethics, but I can understand the players being tempted to do that.
I must admit I didn't see the badminton matches and my first response is that seems lame.  Did they break any rules or do anything really dishonest, it didn't seem like it.  For example,  those bike races where they roll around the sloped track - the competitors don't try to go fast, they try to setup the right conditions to help themselves (they practically stop sometimes).

Then I read a bit more and maybe it was justified (I guess refs even interrupted the play to say - quit that… the fans were booing...).  But yeah setting up the rules the way they did was crazy.  It shouldn't be you create an incentive to do worse in one game in order to do better overall.

Setting up the rules to make someone looking at the best system outcome  will come from sub-optimizing how I play in this game isn't great.

To a much much less degree other competitors have to sub-optimize current games to see the big picture (swimmers and track athletes have to swim fast enough to make the next round but not tire themselves out).  Granted those swimmers don't benefit from losing.  But they benefit from not trying their hardest at all times.

That situation with the gymnast also could be risky.  Only 2 on a team are allowed to compete for the overall individual competition.  The best USA person (I guess) was beat out they came in 4th overall but 3rd on the USA in qualifying.  It would be hard for an individual to give up, but I can imagine it would happen if #3 of the team did great but knew they didn't have a shot really (in the finals) and the country superstar hero was going to be shut out by them doing well in the last event…  Hard for the USA to image, I think, but for perspective in the USA, say if Michael Jordan would be denied a chance, the pressure on #3 to let Michael go through would be significant.