There is a woman that haunts the Stones Corner Hotel, my local watering hole. She is a blow-up doll version of Marilyn Monroe. Not to be taken seriously. Perhaps even pitied.
In the old days of search engines, the blow-up doll versions of Marilyn Monroe could get equal ranking with the real Marilyn Monroes, because the search engines believed whatever was in their advertising, otherwise called metadata.
Google beat these search engines because it has a more social way of assessing Mariln Monroes. It looks at what they say about themselves in their text, who their friends are, via links, and now they are starting to look at how well they are put together.
My Stones Corner Marilyn Monroe looks like the real thing, until you get close, but even then the content wouldn’t be too bad if you were a search engine.
Where the real world/Google approach really pays off is when you look at her friends (well, she doesn’t appear to have any). Google makes this assessment by looking at who your site links to and who links to you – hence the blizzard of people wanting to buy a spot on reputable websites for their totally unrelated links.
But before I noticed that “Marilyn” didn’t have friends I also noticed that she wasn’t well put together. Pneumatic she may be, but the air is leaking out of the seams. Now Google is working out how to make that sort of judgement as well, without using a perceptive human eye.
They’ve just announced that site download speed will form part of their search algorithm. This is a proxy for how well your site has been built. You can read about it here.
I’m not sure that I am enthusiastic about this. They do have other means of making these judgements. For example, they privilege keywords that appear in <h> tags, and grab their descriptions from the meta data on your site.
Download speed appears a little fraught as a measure.
It’s the easiest thing for professional search engine gamers to tune; is heavily reliant on how fast your server is; and often has nothing to do with the value of the information you publish.
Added to that, some of the best news and current affairs sites take longest to download because of all the images and advertisements, but they are also amongst the most reliable.
Conversely, some of the best information is on sites owned by eccentrics who have no care for download speeds.
Still, if Google declares it, the rest of us need to take note. We at Internet Thinking won’t be fighting it and will be looking to ensure that download speeds are optimised.
H/T to Jay Donaldson from INFOCIS for bringing this to my intention, although without the advantage of having seen inflatable Marilyn.