Google’s Quality Ratings

Google has quality raters – actual people who look at search results and rate quality. Their guidebook has been updated to give more emphasis, says Jennifer Slegg, to emphsize local, and expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness. Slegg provides a detailed account of the 146 pages in Updated Google Quality Rater Guidelines: No More Supplementary Content, Emphasis on E-A-T, The SEM Post (April 4)

EU vs Google

The European Union seems to have it in for Google. Now it seems to want to tax Google (and other search engines) for using snippets to link to articles. Why? How could a snippet be a copyright violation?

“Google tax” on snippets under serious consideration by European Commission, Arstechnica (Mar 24)

The European Commission also says that the consultation is “part of its work to update EU copyright rules for the digital age.” It’s hard to see how an attack on the basic building block of the Web—the hyperlink—can be construed as a way of updating copyright to make it fit for the Internet.

Google SERP and text ads

Your eyes and memory aren’t playing tricks – Google has changed the display of text ads and organic search results. The reason – to make Google desktop look more like mobile. (And exactly why is that desired?)

On February 19 Google began rolling out changes to its desktop search results, expanding the vertical real estate given to paid search results and eliminating right-rail ads.

What the Google Desktop SERP Update Means for Organic Search, ALexis Sanders, Merkle (Mar 24)

  • no text ads in right panel
  • four text ads at top of page – before organic results (which was why you ran the search)
  • “product listing ad packs” when relevant will be in right panel
  • knowledge panels – still on the right
  • three text ads at bottom of page
  • will be fewer text ads in total – dropping from 11 to 7 – this was the good news.

Google and DMOZ

Very hard to believe – Google still takes descriptions from Open Directory / DMOZ on items still found in that directory. Why? What happened to Google’s capabilities to devise new titles for poorly written pages? I suspect it’s still there because someone at Google didn’t finish the job of disconnecting the two. Doesn’t hurt, but does show inattention to search.

Google On Why They Use DMOZ: I Have Absolutely No Clue (Search Engine Roundtable, Mar 11).

Farewell PageRank

Long ago everyone wanted to know how their web page ranked in Google’s scoring system, and Google obliged by providing ways to obtain the PageRank. Google still has elaborate algorithms that involve hundreds of factors in assessing authenticity or goodness of a page or site, but it will stop providing the numeric pagerank score through a toolbar or any other means.

RIP Google PageRank score: A retrospective on how it ruined the web, Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land (Mar 9)

The absence of PageRank scores may cause some to seek alternatives, estimates from third parties about how authoritative pages might be. These remain, of course, just guesses. Only Google itself knows the actual PageRank score for a page — and as can’t be said enough, the score alone isn’t the only thing that determines if a page ranks well.

RankBrain making a difference

RankBrain is Google’s new ranking algorithm which uses machine learning over time to “understand” searchers’ queries and retrieve better matches. Stone Temple Consulting conducted a study to see if results have actually improved.

RankBrain: A Study to Measure Its Impact, Eric Enge, Stone Temple Consulting (Mar 9)

This cannot be proved definitively, but indications are that Google seems to be handling ambiguities better (eg is coach a bus, a purse, a person?) and can recognize entities such as “The Office”. Google has also inproved in handling those natural language questions of what is, who is, where is, convert – and others.

Article has several illustrative examples.

Digital Afterlife

What do you want done with your online accounts? Add this to writng your last will and testament:  At Google you can make arrangements for your Google services through Account Manager.

How to prepare for your digital afterlife, CNet (Mar 2)

Google doesn’t explicitly talk death, but they do let you decide what happens to your Google accounts — Gmail, Photos, Google Drive, etc — when you haven’t signed into your Google account for a period of time. Google lets you add up to 10 friends and family members who will be notified if your account is inactive for a certain amount of time, and who will (with your permission) be able to download data from your accounts for three months.

It’s hard to find — sign into your Google account, click on your picture for Profile, find My Account, scroll to Personal info and privacy, click on “control your content”, and “assign an account trustee”. Then answer the questions.

Unhappy with Google Web Search

Some are saying that Google Web Search is Starting to Suck (Feb 24) I agree with Tara Calishain that Google seems indifferent to web search.  It removes features and adds none.  Displaying results that are “missing words” is annoying.  She points out that we can require all words by selecting “verbatim” search under search options – but that turns off the good that Google does in picking up related words for terms.  Maybe the url hack she lists is better.