Google Talks More About Keeping Ranking Factors Secret

    September 18, 2010
    Chris Crum

Yesterday, we looked at a video Danny Sullivan posted at Search Engine Land, in which he grilled Google CEO Eric Schmidt about listing Google’s 200 ranking signals. 

Clearly tired of being asked about the subject, Schmidt responded with comments like, "Because we change them. What would happen is, you’ve asked me this question for the eight years I’ve worked with you, so it’s the same question. Why don’t we publish these things. And the fundamental answer is we’re always changing. We’re always changing, and if we started saying here’s how the black box works, then all of a sudden huge incumbencies would come out about this change and that change, and we just don’t want that pressure." 

… and that it would be revealing business secrets. 

The company posted an article from Google Fellow and Engineer Amit Singhal on its public policy blog. It stemmed from “a debate” about fairness in search published by the Wall Street Journal. Singhal talks a bit more about Google’s secrets and competition: 

"Making our systems 100% transparent would not help users, but it would help the bad guys and spammers who try game the system. When you type "Nigeria" you probably want to learn about the country. You probably don’t want to see a bunch of sites from folks offering to send you money . . . if you would only give them your bank account number!"

"We may be the world’s most popular search engine, but at the end of the day our competition is literally just one click away. If we messed with results in a way that didn’t serve our users’ interests, they would and should simply go elsewhere—not just to other search engines like Bing, but to specialized sites like Amazon, eBay or Zillow. People are increasingly experiencing the Web through social networks like Facebook. And mobile and tablet apps are a newer alternative for accessing information."

Singhal also says that Google reveals more about its ranking factors than any other search engine, and offers more tools to webmasters to take advantage. 

Sullivan appears to think the list should be published, without revealing how factors are actually measured, but Schmidt says even the list would reveal too much.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.