Wired News: The rest of my interview

Hey hey! I'm in Wired News again! This time it's not a surprise, but it's still fun to see my name "in print." Woohoo!


There's nothing wrong with the story at all, but I figured it'd be interesting for everyone to see the process and to see what I said in its entirety. Almost everyone who's interviewed by a journalist has stuff cut that they thought was important... blogging is such a great tool that it allows all of what the interviewee said to be published as well - and since Wired linked to this site, many of the people who read that story today will actually see these words too. Media is definitely changing, hey?

Anyways, last week or so I ranted a bit about Google in response to Andrew Orlowski's Reg article and Joanna Glasner from Wired News emailed me the other day and said that she found my post intriguing and wanted talk a little further about the subject. I told her that I had just been interviewed by them not too long ago by Peter Rojas, but would be glad to help her out if she wanted to email me questions as we're 9 hours apart and it's a bit difficult to arrange an interview. She responded with a series of questions which I took a few minutes the other night to answer.

Here's the email I sent back to Joanna:

Hi Joanna,

> 1. What kinds of topics do you address in your blog that you've found also come up in Google searches? Can you provide specific examples of search terms that you've entered, in areas in which you don't claim particular expertise, in which your blog came up ranked near the top? When did these examples occur?

I normally write about technology and my life here in Spain. Lately I've been focusing on mobile technologies.

I haven't searched for something COMPLETELY random and found my own blog, but I have searched for specifics on technologies that I've expressed opinions on a few weeks earlier and had to click through my own postings on numerous occasions.

However, my blog has a Referrers section which lists the day's Google searches. I've gotten over 150 click-throughs from Google in the past 24 hours (and that's about my average actually...), including searches for "Kim Possible", "Screen Flipper", "Management data d'accord", "Lotus 1,2,3 menu structure for cars", and "birthday card special agent". I do remember mentioning that I liked Kim Possible, but the rest don't make much sense...

> 2. Are there particular reasons why blogs turn up high in search results, particularly in Google? Is it likely this will change?

Well, this is pretty well known. The constant linking and fresh links plays to Google's search algorithm.

I would say, "yes" it will have to change to in order to compensate for bad results. I don't think this is a Google vs. Bloggers thing, I think this is a flaw in the system and the guys at Google are going to find ways of correcting it.

> 3. Are there particular characteristics of your blog that make it likely to come up high in search rankings?

High? No. But I've made an effort to make the blog "cacheable" by search engines, which means all of my content is indexed. That helps.

> 4. As you probably know, there's a cottage industry of people who specifically try to get sites ranked high in search engine results. Why is it that some people who go out of their way to achieve high rankings still get ranked below bloggers and others who aren't even trying?

I don't know... is this true? If you're asking if I think Google punishes companies/individuals who try to mess with their rankings, I would have to say I have no idea. But it makes sense. Google needs to protect its number one asset (valid rankings) and its number one revenue source (adwords) from competitors rigging the system.

> 5. Are there ways you could see Google and other search engines tweaking their algorythms or methodologies to make search results more relevant?

In my opinion, it should be very simple for Google to detect which part of the web is changing constantly, analyze it for over abundance of self-referential links and discount those links in its algorithm. Not entirely, but bloggers don't link for all the reasons assumed by Google. Many times they do it as a form of discussion. Thus if a post is getting several links, its not because that particular post contains any expert information, but simply may have an interesting opinion. Google, however, sees those links as a sign of authority on the subject and ranks those pages higher. The guys at Google are damn smart, I'm sure they're already working on improving their search results by more intelligently monitoring "suspected weblogs."

> 6. In your previous reply, what do you mean by a "usenet style separation" for bloggers exactly?

The Google Groups tab is a result of Google's purchase of Deja News' Usenet archives. Google separated that content into it's own tab. As it has for News sources as well.

> 7. How would you like to refer to yourself in an article? (i.e., Russell Beattie, who writes a blog from his home in Madrid).

That will be fine. Or how about just "Russell #9 on Google" ;-)

Hope that helps!


So as you can see, she didn't misquote me or take anything out of context, though I DID think she was going to drill down a bit more into the workings of Google. I thought there might be a big scoop on how Google is punishing companies who mess with their rankings. Hmm... after this story we'll see how my rankings fare. ;-)

I do believe that Google is going to change things a bit. Not in a drastic way, but the other day when they announced that they weren't removing blogs from their index, they didn't say anything about not tweaking their search algorithms, did they? Like I said above, I think bloggers link to each other for all sorts of reasons. The assumptions that are written into the search algoritms about why people link need to be tweaked a bit to take into account us promiscuous linkers. :-)


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