Sunday, August 23, 2009

I'm Not Sure I Like This

As of today, if you do a Google search on "Hotel Rumi Punku" (with or without quotes) my post about the hotel is the first result. That doesn't seem right. I'm right above the hotel's official website.

I'm sure it's largely due to the fact that Google owns the platform that hosts this blog, perhaps along with the recency of the post and the fact that the hotel's name is in the post title.

Of course, it's not going to hurt the hotel since I had written a rave review, but still it doesn't seem fair. Not only should the hotel's website rate higher than mine, so should Tripadvisor, which contains the feedback of many, not one. Further down the page you'll find Lonely Planet and Fodor's, both of which should be granted at least somewhat more authority than my humble scribblings.

Update: Based on a comment below, I tried the search at work and came up as result #21, top of 3rd screen. At home, where I'm most likely to access and update this blog, I was result #1. Which brings up another question: to what degree does one's surfing history affect one's results, and is factoring this into the algorithm wise and appropriate? Should search rankings be user-targeted or user-neutral? Is one approach more appropriate for some types of information than others? I think these questions intersect with questions of the ethics of taxonomy and information access in an ever-changing information environment.


Anonymous Jimmy Cantiello said...

IMO, Tripadvisor pretty much sucks. It's been my experience that the people that post "reviews' on Tripadvisor really don't know what they're talking about. I vote that Cherches should be taken much more seriously than the people that post on Tripadvisor. BWTFDIK?

6:52 PM  
Blogger jeremy said...

That's what you get for .... living in nyc and thus being more 'reliable' in google's eys.

8:39 PM  
Blogger Beth Preddy said...

Peter, I just did the search and you were #8 on page 2. Google search changes constantly and I wonder if your results had anything to do with it being on your computer.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Nick Patterson said...

I just searched, and you were #9 on page 2 of the results. Changeable, as Beth pointed out.

If, in fact, your Google search results are impacted by your search history on a particular machine, I think that would indeed be problematic. Will look into it some more... (but then, what recourse? Advise users to clear history before searching? Delete cookies?)

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Cindy Wolff said...

Hi Peter,
It does give pause for concern. From an information literacy perspective, it's problematic enough to sift through so many retrieved items if you are trying to avoid sources with a bias. Search engines that try to cater rather than provide neutral results make it more difficult. Are you really getting everything or just what Google thinks you want?

2:01 PM  
Blogger librarian@play said...

Google claims not to weigh their own sites more heavily, and I believe them because their business model has nothing to do with the content and sites they own. As long as their search and Adwords brings up the “best” results and matches, they make money, regardless if the best match is a blog hosted on one of their sites or not. And, yes, they consider past search behavior in their definition of "best."

They do skew results toward blogs in general, largely because blogs tend to have SEO baked into them with their concise title-text-tag-caption format—highly searchable and visible. In your 440-word review of the hotel, you use its name once in the title and four times in the text, plus you link to their site and name their location and address. All things Google’s algorithm slavers over. Your blog entry is also written in the broad format of a review, which Google can recognize and extract for their review engine—another checkmark in its column. Finally, blogs tend to be dynamic and frequently updated, which Google search also favors, as opposed to, say, a static hotel promotional/commerce page that may not have been updated or updated minimally in 3 years. Google sees such pages as essentially dead or dormant.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Peter Cherches said...

For those who don't know, SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization.

10:52 AM  

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