John Byrne, the former BusinessWeek editor seems to feel the same. He recently launched a site that looks at business schools: Poets and Quants.
He published a post detailing his frustration at Google’s listing of the site, or rather its failure to list the site. C-Change Media Inc.: Google? Where are you?
One of the most fascinating aspects of our debut is what Google has been able to discover, or fail to find, about the site.
…So what do you find when you Google "poetsandquants?" Not a single mention of the actual website.
…As you go through the first five pages of Google results, there are all kinds of websites that have essentially highjacked Google, rendering its search product less useful and helpful to users. There’s a so-called weblog that is little more than a place to advertise Viagra and Cialis. There’s links to TweetMeme, Interceder, tweetcepts, twapperkeeper, rallyclips, and whotechpunditstweet, among many others. Most of them are search traps that have gamed Google.
Part of Mr. Byrne’s frustration is related to the fact that his site is a young site — Google trusts sites that have been around for a longer time. However, I’ve been noticing a similar fall in the quality of the rankings on general searches.
Often I have to look at second and third pages of listings when I used to be able to find what I needed on the first page.
Also: there are plenty more companies that make a business gaming Google results. For example: Demand Media, which has built a large business based on the fact that it publishes content that is gamed to attract Google rankings and Google AdSense advertising.
Demand Media is so confident in its business model based on continued gaming of Google that it has filed for an IPO. And there are other companies whose entire business model is based on their ability to game Google.
Google changes its algorithm on a regular basis and that serves to shakeout all those sites that have tried to game Google based on the characteristics of the prior algorithm. Has Google ran out of ways of shaking out the spam sites?
I agree with Mr. Byrne’s conclusion:
…This goes to the quality of Google’s primary product: search. If Google can’t find PoetsandQuants or any of the stories published on the site, I wonder how many other legitimate, substantive efforts are also going undiscovered because Google’s algorithms have been so effectively gamed.
[Editor’s Note: Tom cross-posted this to Silicon Valley Watcher. –mrh]