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Why can't Google differentiate editorial from adverising?
Just encountered an interesting and rather troubling situation as I dig around and try to find out more information about Sprint's Broadband Mobile service and just how compatible it is with a Mac PowerBook. I did a Google search for sprint broadband "mac os x" and the #3 match is:
Problem is, if you actually go to the referenced page there's no mention of Sprint Broadband anywhere. Possibly the result was in its "top news" box but I'm guessing, from the words that appear in this search result, that it was a sponsor or other advertising block.
Hmmm.... this calls into doubt some of the esteem with which I hold Google's search results.
After all, if Google can't differentiate between an advert and the editorial on a Web page, then aren't most of its results sullied or polluted, at least at some level?
Sites with matching text include InfoWorld, Mobile Tech Today, CIO Today and Top Tech News. Now, I suspect that these are all IDG publications and Sprint purchased a run-of-site sponsorship advert that included the specific words I used, so that's not really such a big deal unto itself.
What troubles me is the false hit I got on my original search. Because Google wasn't able to differentiate between advertising / sponsorship text and editorial text, it couldn't recognize that a match of editorial=mac and advertising=sprint was not, in fact, a good match for my search of mac + sprint.
Maybe I am expecting too much, but generally Google astonishes me with its smart search capabilities, so it is surprising to see such a gaffe.
This is worse because it's actually the #1 match. At least Google put it as match #3!
And, credit where it's due, a search for sprint broadband "mac os x" on MSN Search Live Search (Who came up with this terrible name? Blech!) doesn't have a single match for InfoWorld on the first pace but instead points to legit info sites like EVDOinfo.com and EVDOforums.com. Nicely done, Microsoft!
Thoughts? Reactions? Tempest in a teapot?
Posted by Dave Taylor at October 12, 2006 12:33 AM
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