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Saturday, September 20, 2003

Google Variations for a Better Google

This 37signals page is suggesting something like “related searches” (which Google is experimenting with already):

“Google is the search expert. Yet as good as their search engine is, the results are only as good as the search terms you enter. How can you know if “african coffee trade” is a better search than “africa’s coffee trading” when you’re doing research? You can’t possibly know, but Google can. To help you discern between different synonyms and related terms, Google could provide a way to search for slight variations of your initial query and flag the ones that differ.”
A better Google?

Adult Search

Almost a safe bet; the adult industry is the most competitive when it comes to SEO. In many top-keywords-queried statistics I can see number 1, 2 & 3 spots censored! They might contain “sex”, “porn”, “****”, and what-not. After all there’s around 200,000 porn-addicted ’Net users entering keyphrases like “Liv Tyler nude”.
If you are interested to hear some adult SEO tips try Webmaster Link Up forums. (Also available over there is an adult seo case study.)
For more details, check out the book Obscene Profits: Entrepreneurs of Pornography in the Cyber Age.

Now that I probably alerted some search engine adult content filters, I might as well mention website, which is all about Star Trek porn – but there’s just too many pop-ups over there. So here’s a little Web history instead: “Hackers are altering meta tags and redirecting innocent users to porn sites”, as ZDnet reported in 1999.

Adult Keywords in SERPs

Some of the “adult” keywords’ top-ranking sites – those that found the G-spot, so to speak – are what you may call good sites (no smut, but helpful information). For example, entering “breast” leads to breast cancer information; upon “nude”, the American Association for Nude Recreation will knock on your browser. While many clearly “dirty” words lead to, well, clearly dirty sites. But here’s the top 3 for “sex” to give you an impression:

  1. The Safer Sex Page
  2. HBO: Sex and the City
  3. SEX, ETC. – A Web site by Teens for Teens

(For above, there was no change when I switched from strict to no filtering in the search preferences.)

Entering (pardon the technical word) “penis” into Google will get you to a Geocities site. That’s pretty much the first time I saw a high-ranking Geocities site. (“The penis is the most vital, wonderful, troublesome, thrilling, exciting, masculine part of a man’s body, but it’s so often a mystery – even to its owner!”)
The phrase “penis size” – judging from the spam I get the most important issue on the planet in 2003 – has a funny flash inhibiting the top spot; by handing out information on shoe-size, hand-size and nose-size, the calculator will estimate the size of the penis. (Even on Google answers, penis size is an issue, as questions like How do I know if my penis is big? and Can penis size be improved reliably? prove.)

The female counter-part of all body angst, “breast size”, brings traffic to Puberty 101-Breast Size? and Breast size: bigger isn’t always better (according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery “breast implants are the second most common plastic surgery procedure, with 249,641 performed in 2002 in the United States”).

Now I’ll try out “sexual positions”, sure contender for wandering (and wondering) souls; firmly on top of nearly 1 million pages is Google counts 228 pages pointing to this domain*, AllTheWeb 6,083.
This site does not show any graphical imagery, by the way: there’s just two puppets performing the tricks.

*Note that Google only counts links with a PageRank of 4 and above.

Safe Search?

After the tests I made (not all are listed above) I do get the impression Google will let non-adult sites rank higher... as opposed to the common rumours that everytime you enter a harmless search word, a lot of smut pops up. (Which I saw happening too before, but it’s not really typical of Google.) It might be that Google does rank based on content, which would be new to me. Or it might be informational sites just get more links from “clean” sites – those that do not in any way participate in linkfarming, cloaking, and so on. The Google help page states:

“Many Google users prefer not to have adult sites included in their search results. Google’s SafeSearch screens for sites that contain pornography and explicit sexual content and eliminates them from search results. While no filter is 100% accurate, Google’s filter uses advanced proprietary technology that checks keywords and phrases, URLs and Open Directory categories.”
– Google Inc., SafeSearch Filtering

Google’s adult filter is not without problems, as it may exclude innocuous websites from search results:

“The omissions occur because of the way Google designed the feature, which can be enabled or disabled through a preferences page. The feature uses a proprietary algorithm that automatically analyzes the pages and makes an educated guess, without intervention by Google employees.

That technique reduces the cost of the SafeSearch service, but it can lead to odd results. It’s perhaps unlikely that many humans would have classified a BBC News report on East Timor, Mattel’s site about its Scrabble game – the URL includes the word “adults"--or the Nashville Public Library’s teen health issues page as unsuitable for minors. Some articles from CNET and CNET Software are also invisible to SafeSearch users.”
– Declan McCullagh, Report criticizes Google’s porn filters (CNET, April 10, 2003

I’m sure I can tell you more on that topic when Googlebot saw this post!


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