Theories on Google results for Windows Live Writer August 30, 2006Posted by spikew in Google, WindowsLiveWriter.
As the “Windows Live Writer blog banned from Google?” question makes its way around, the theories on the unexpected Writer search result rankings are starting to roll in.
Here’s a quick summary of the running theories:
- The Writer Zone is Irrelevant Theory – Google’s search result is right and the Writer Zone is actually not the most relevant link about Windows Live Writer. There have been several references to Google weighing the <title> element very heavily, so since the title of the blog isn’t “Windows Live Writer”, it doesn’t get ranked as highly as all of the other pages that do.
- Link-bomb Theory – The sudden and dramatic increase in the number of inbound links to the Writer blog when the product launched triggered some kind of link-bomb safeguard. This safeguard caused the search engine to exclude the detected link-bomb target in search results.
- Trashy HTML Theory – The HTML generated by Windows Live Spaces is so bad that Google’s search indexer won’t include it.
- Google is Evil Theory – Google is mean and forcefully removed the Writer blog.
- Blogs are Hot Air Theory – Google’s algorithm weighs inbound links from blogs very lightly. Since most links to Writer Zone are from blogs, this makes the Writer Zone ranking more volatile as more non-blog sources link to other websites (like the Writer download URL or http://ideas.live.com)
I don’t subscribe to the Writer Zone is Irrelevant Theory since the Writer blog was the top link for the first week after the product launched, and then suddenly disappeared completely from the results. We’ve been diligently monitoring all references to Windows Live Writer since the product launched and it seems to me that a very large percentage of them include a link back to the Writer Zone blog. A quick search on Technorati will give you some idea about the comparative relevance (at least measured in inbound links) of the Writer blog versus the current top search result:
I don’t subscribe to the Trashy HTML Theory because the HTML generated by Spaces is not that bad. Any good HTML parser can deal with far worse.
I already weighed in on the Google is Evil Theory, and I think its bogus. Call me naive, but it’s silly to think Google would waste its time (and more importantly money!) on adjusting its search rankings to drop the Writer Blog. Also, given that Writer is a tool used by bloggers, its not worth the risk of the firestorm it would cause if they ever got caught.
I’m most intrigued by the Link-bomb Theory. It makes a lot of sense that Google would have safeguards in place to catch attempts to influence page ranks. Google has done good work to prevent comment spammers from influencing page ranks. I don’t know what kind of link-bomb detectors they have in place, but if there are any…then just like junk mail filters sometimes flag real mail as junk, its easy to see how a flood of new links to the Writer blog could be seen as a link-bomb.
I’d like to add that I have a contact at Google who is being very responsive about investigating this, and it looks like Scoble is going to ask around on his visit to Google tomorrow too. So I think we’ll soon have some kind of answer to the mystery. I’ll post the final answer when we know.
Whatever the answer, I look forward to finding a way for our customers to get an informative overview when searching for the product rather than the “File Download – Security Warning” dialog they are currently getting when clicking the first result. 🙂