April 11 – Mark the Date

An important date in the history of the World Web has come and gone and almost no one noticed. How did it get missed?

On February 24th, Google rolled out the Panda update. Amidst great howls of pain and gnashing of teeth, a significant number of websites learned the hard way that having a good website mattered. The Panda update was designed to identify “thin” content…, content that may be “unique”, but really doesn’t add very much to the human experience. I like to call this content the “plastic water bottles” of the Internet. It takes up space, it’s useless, and it won’t go away.

The other thing Panda did was to incorporate an algorithm based on human factors. The algorithm attempted to quantify the results of questioning Internet users about such things as:

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Grasping Simple Concepts

For a couple of years now, we have been harping on the obvious efforts of search engines to improve their results. Our advice can be summed up as “build a good website”. With literally trillions of unique URL’s on the web, search engines face daily challenges in trying to sort the wheat from the chaff. For a long time after the introduction of Google, the mantra was “more links”. Links still matter of course, but what really matters is quality.

In the first 48 hours after this blog entry launches, a series of robots will try to post comment links to a variety of pharmaceutical sites, and free download sites. None of these comment links will be posted here, but you can be assured that the only reason comment spam exists is because large numbers of links get generated that way. The inbound link model only makes sense if one measures the credibility of where the link comes from. Google knows this.

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Belly Button Gazing and Cookie Lint

Every morning, I spend roughly an hour surfing the web…, looking for trends, interesting stories, and cultural moments. I see it as a key part of my job to be completely current on social trends and phenomena. Some of the major sites that are a part of each day are CNN, MSNBC, The Star, The Globe, BBC, AOL, MSN, Aljazeera, Economist, NYT, and RT. The links I follow will routinely take me to hard news, philosophy, politics, entertainment sites, gossip sites, and in many cases…, absolute time-wasters. So why don’t I restrict my viewing to professional information and topics of interest by using news feeds?

Consider what the Internet is hiding from you.

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Unique Content and a 1000 Monkeys

The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Technically, the observable universe is nowhere big enough to validate this, but infinity is such a cool concept that I like playing with it in my mind. Somewhere right now, there’s a purple dragon flying across a pink sky and he’s speaking Chinese… but I digress.

Google tells us that there are billions of web pages added each day, and presumably trillions of unique URLs on the web. One of the largest challenges facing search engines is how to suppress this noise. The mantra early in the 2000’s was that a website needed unique content in order to survive, and now in 2011 this has become a mini-industry. Continue reading Unique Content and a 1000 Monkeys