January 16, 2017

Google’s lingering problem with editorial versus advertising

I was recently searching for “sprint broadband” and “Mac OS X” and noticed a very interesting problem: the matches I got from both Google and Yahoo were incorrect because the matching pages included “Mac OS X” in the editorial and were also matching on “sprint broadband”, but ephemerally: they were advertising or sponsor information and no longer appear on the page.

There are a couple of reasons this happens, notably the inevitable delay between when a page is indexed in a search engine and when that cached or analyzed copy is updated due to changes on the site, but the bigger problem is that neither Google nor Yahoo can differentiate between the editorial on a Web page and the advertising.

In my book, that’s a problem, and a search on the matching phrase “connect at blazing speeds with the sprint mobile broadband card.” you’ll doubtless be surprised just how many matches there are!

At least Microsoft caught the problem (or just lucked out and didn’t see the Sprint advertising on the page): their Live Search did not show the same erroneous results from Infoworld.com as one of the top three matches.

As i say in my main blog post about this subject — Why can’t Google differentiate editorial from advertising? — the problem is just a matter of expectations more than anything. I rely on Google to offer up good matches to searches and this was a failure on their algorithm, one that’s repeated at Yahoo.

What do you think? Is it critical for search engines to differentiate between editorial and advertising when analyzing and scoring the content of a page?

1 comment for Google’s lingering problem with editorial versus advertising

  1. The same problem also applies when there is information in a forum. Google knows that the page appeared on page 1 when it spidered the index, but since then 1000 entries have passed, and the keywords are no longer available.

    In this particular case, I find looking at google’s cache of the page the best solution – however, when I tried this in your scenario, it did not work.

    So… do we start using tags to differentiate between the editorial on a Web page and the advertising – essentially telling google to ignore particular content on the page.

    You and I both know how SEOs will game that to their advantage – put the real content in the “ad” area, and then put keyword rich stuff everywhere else.

    As an advertiser – I want my ad to be indexed on the page I am paying for it to appear on – because it helps my own search rankings, but since my ads aren’t correctly indexed in google, it isn’t such a big deal.

    I’ve noticed on my own blog, that the archive page containing a keyword link to an article usually appears in SERPs before the actual article – if the actual article even appears at all. This is primarily because I don’t have a large audience, so I don’t have third parties linking to the articles I am testing.

    Possibly the keyword density in google’s algorithm needs to be tweaked. Just because there is a hyperlink containing a particular keyword on a page, doesn’t mean that is what the page is about.

    Comment by Michael Phipps — October 16, 2006 @ 4:08 pm

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