A friend just pinged me on messenger to let me know that if you search Google for "Schwarzenegger for governor" you get an entry form my blog as the first result. (See screen shot on the right and click for full image.)

I wonder how long that will last.

Maybe I should sell some ads on that page in a hurry? :-)

See Also: PageRank is Dead, Salon on The Google Backlash, and Whoring your PageRank

If this keeps up, I'm starting a Google category in my blog.

Update: Phil has some interesting thoughts on this too--beyond what you see in the comments below.

Posted by jzawodn at August 06, 2003 09:47 PM

Reader Comments
# Phil Ringnalda said:

What would you have them return instead? An AP story that will probably change URLs four or five times, then disappear? arnold4gov.com? (Astonishing how high up in the SERPs that is, considering the total lack of content). You really only get to say that Google's broken when there's something that you can reasonably say should be returned instead of you. And if you do find the canonical page for Arnie for Gov, you might want to considering linking to it. That's why Google thinks so highly of you: it thinks you have a weblog where you link to useful and interesting things on the web.

on August 6, 2003 10:08 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

That's why Google thinks so highly of you: it thinks you have a weblog where you link to useful and interesting things on the web.

Wow. That's the most generous description of PageRank I've ever read.

I think you're reading a bit too much into what Google "thinks."

on August 6, 2003 10:16 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

As for better content than my blog, how about this?

on August 6, 2003 10:17 PM
# Phil Ringnalda said:

Google News, absolutely: they do actually put a link to it above your blog, and that's the other side of a search with bad results: could you search for some other words (schwarzenegger candidate seems to give slightly better results) or search somewhere else that would be more likely to have what you want (News, in this case)?

But as to what Google "thinks" of you: my lazy shorthand for "the probable reason why so many people have linked to you, thus increasing your PR." You update frequently, you have a high link:text ratio relative to the web average, lots of people link to you: near as Google can tell, you must have a good weblog, and so it's worth boosting your rank so that you'll be returned high in the SERPs when there's nothing clearly better, since you might link to something good.

And that's the real problem with PR, Google, and blogs: there's no good way to have a blogroll link saying "Jeremy Zawodny ++MySQL ++gliders -Google -{whatever else I've disagreed with you about}", just as there's no way to say "Phil Ringnalda --500 HTTP error" (my current search cross to bear, since there's nothing with useful content even vaguely designed for search engines to spot it). The only solution I can see for Google not knowing *what* a weblog is good about is to scrap blogrolls and link to each other's entries a lot more, including keywords/titles, but I doubt I'm interested enough in helping Google to do it myself, much less convince the rest of the world to do it, too.

on August 6, 2003 10:52 PM
# Ben said:

Weird isn't it. I'm still ranking #3 on a Google search for "high performance mysql" when i'm sure loads of people linked to you with that text.

I was #1 for over a week :-)

on August 7, 2003 02:10 AM
# Phillip Winn said:

This seems like a self-selection problem to me. The way you think means that your choice of search terms will match exactly the title of your piece, and Google values page titles quite a bit. If you search for "Schwarzenegger governor" (without the "for"), your own page drops a few notches (even though Google says "for" isn't being used), and various other combinations of related words don't turn you up at all.

For the most part, other sites have hurt their chances at being listed first on simple queries by using "Arnie," "Terminator," and various other clever twists of phrase.

on August 7, 2003 06:48 AM
# said:

Actually, the first two external links that google returns are links to news stories. Your link is third.

on August 7, 2003 11:02 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

And the other 50+ relevant news stories aren't even listed?


Google is making artificial distinctions "news" vs. "the web" and in this case it's rather stupid, don't you think?

on August 7, 2003 11:13 AM
# Stan Krute said:

I live in Google. I love Google.
It finds things remarkably well.

I shouldn't be astonished at the
barbs aimed at Google, given human
nature and the desire to shoot down
excellence .... but it's still kinda

Take away Google and you take away
at least half the value of the web
to me, and many other lunchbucket
practical users.


on August 7, 2003 03:09 PM
# Victor said:


Google is making artificial distinctions "news" vs. "the web" and in this case it's rather stupid, don't you think?

Not really. I think their "news" section is a result of spidering thousands of "NEWS" sites. So, they segregate the Internet into "Web", "news", "group" and etc based on the source of the content. That actually makes sense to me.

on August 7, 2003 03:43 PM
# kasia said:

The search for 'fix google' provides me with endless amusement.. okay, so I'm easily amused.

on August 7, 2003 04:43 PM
# anand said:

Google is no longer governed solely by pagerank.

To understand how google works you need to understand the google crawling patterns.

There was a time when there was a single google bot which crawled the net once every month and adjusted the SERPs accordingly.

Now there is an additional google bot called the freshbot which mines the web every three days or so.

So now google adjusts its SERPs not only by relevancy but also by freshness of content.

Now a weblog is undoubtedly the freshest of sites and so google tends to favour the weblog when it is looking for freshness. Your high pagerank helps you to come out first among these fresh stories.

With time, your story will fall while entire sites devoted to arnold's election campaign will come into the SERPS via the monthly crawl.

on August 7, 2003 11:56 PM
# Wee said:

I'm with Stan. I don't care if Google makes arbitrary distinctions for me. It works really, really well. If they sold Google brain implants I'd probably buy one. The Web would be far less valuable if it went away. The sad fact is that Google works better than Yahoo for searching the web for something in particular, even when you get a blog result. Sorry, but it's true. Yahoo really shined back when it was at Stanford and shortly thereafter, because you knew real human eyeballs went over the link submissions. So whatever you came across when searching through their listings was usually a worthwhile (real?) site. And now the web is too big for any one group to view in its entirety, and so PageRank comes into play. Yahoo is a good portal, however.

Is PageRank perfect? Not by a long shot. Your top for Arnie. I'm #1 for beanbag butt juice. So what? A guy searching for the CA gov race will wind up at a relevant page after hitting your blog. A guy searching for beanbag prurience will find me. Yeah, they won't quite get what they were after in either case, but they will get what they were actually looking for. Your blog had all the relevant terms. Why wouldn't Google send people to your site?

What would be nice is to have a way to to turn off blog searching. Maybe. I could see potential for false positives. But like I said, even when I hit a blog, I get where I wanted to go easy enough. Honestly, I'd like a way to not have mailing list archives returned in my results (I find myself always including "-previous -next -thread" and such in some searches). Blogs I don't generally care about as much.

Anyway, choice is good in either case. Back when Altavista first came out, I thought things were looking up. Then Google came out, and between the two, I got good results. Now I'm happy with Google. It does the job, and I found that out because I had a choice. Not the worst situation to be in...

on August 8, 2003 02:17 AM
# Sharper said:

Pagerank has a little to do with it (your blog probably has a higher page rank then some of the other pages about Arnold), but I suspect anchor text, h elements, title, etc... probably creates a lot more relevence in the Google results.

Your blog entry is titled and linked to with "Schwarzenegger for Governor", so Google will assume that's more relevent to the search than "Schwarzenegger Running in California", for example.

As examples, a link like:
will cause that site to rank higher in a search for "Houseware", but not matter nearly as much in a search for "Kitchen Sink", while:
Kitchen Sink
would do the opposite, even if they are links to the same page.

If you also have the anchor text matching what's in the title and H tags on the page, if you are searching for a close match to the phrase, Google is going to (rightly) think that page is more relevent to what you want. Google has a hard time knowing that "Schwarzenegger Running in California" and "Schwarzenegger for Governor" are really the same topics, but it's relatively easy to tell how close someone's html tags emphasize that exact phrase by a basic comparison.

on August 9, 2003 11:10 AM
# Gerald said:

Sharper get's the point. It's mainly about Keywords in title and link texts etc and about making (ab)use of this knowledge. It's a hard task for a search engine to differ between normal data and news. The user has to tell the engine what he is looking for, something in between personalized search and optional filtering.
Have you ever seen the creepy results of an intranet search engine that could not differ between normal data and stock market newsticker information. Searching for a company name for instance may show you dozends of stock market news from 1999, not really the results you had expected. So in case of searching for news it would be clever to make use of the news option/section.

on August 10, 2003 05:40 AM
# Danny Sullivan said:

Yep, now that's a bad one. Of course, if I look at results from Yahoo-owned Inktomi (via HotBot, which it powers, as opposed to Yahoo itself, which remains Google powered):


Then your blog entry is ranked number two for the same query.

So whatever is causing you to rank high on Google (probably the combination of backlinks with those words in them coupled with your page title), that's having the same impact with Inktomi's completely independent ranking system.

In short, if Google's broken, then Inktomi's broken as well.

How about Overture-owned and soon-to-be Yahoo-acquired AllTheWeb? No problem there -- but perhaps because AllTheWeb doesn't appear to have actually crawled your page yet. Same is true for Teoma.

Overture-owned and soon-to-be Yahoo-acquired AltaVista doesn't have your blog page, either. But of all the results I quickly skimmed, they seem to have the best. My guess here is that they are hitting their news search database more heavily for this query -- which is probably a smart move:


on August 12, 2003 03:33 AM
# Gerald said:

Nice discussion, but is it necessary. Searching for "jeremy" shows the jz-blog at pos 1 in google, searching for "phil" shows the pr-blog at the top. This blogs are designed as weapons, taking advantage of googles algorithms that are based on pagerank and linkage. So you manipulate the search results. Therefore the results are just what I expected. And as this topic has been discussed by some more blogs (using the appropriate keyword links) the result won't change for the next days, weeks and month.

As long as Altavista has not indexed the appropriate pages we can't distinguish whether it's algorithm is more resistant against this kind of manipulation or not. Do you wanna bet ;-)

on August 12, 2003 04:30 AM
# Ice cream said:

Yep, now that's a bad one. Of course, if I look at results from Yahoo-owned Inktomi (via HotBot, which it powers, as opposed to Yahoo itself, which remains Google powered):

on August 15, 2003 12:14 PM
# Rounder said:

Have heard rumors that Google is going to make a new pagerank algorithm solely for bloggers. So don't worry, in a few months, you'll be obfusciated from any referrences to Terminator for gov :)

on September 17, 2003 07:53 PM
# http://www.pagerank-search-engine-optimization.com said:

Not so sure about the blogger "blocker" for google algo's as this board has PR and shows in results for terms like "waht google says about pagerank"

on September 27, 2003 08:45 PM
# mike lawson said:

hum...maybe this is why the search for (without quotes) "mike lawson", lists my blog first...even above mikelawson.com. Dang, you learn something new everyday.. Thanks for the info guys

on September 28, 2003 06:14 PM
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