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Rise of the search engine machines

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Saturday April 23, 2011 )

Imagine a search engine algorithm that refined itself without much in the way of human intervention. I kept having flashes of 800 series cyborgs as I read about this :).

As was the case in Terminator, perhaps we may see the rise of the machines in the world of search engines.

Actually – it’s already happening in Russia. There’s a very interesting article on Search Engine Land about Yandex, Russia’s most popular native search engine that processes over 100,000,000 queries every day, using machine learning.

Yandex’s approach is three-fold. Evolving from an algorithm they called MaxtriNet (Matrix – SkyNet? woo.. spooky), came “Spectrum” which is mostly about gauging user intent.

Spectrum and Matrix still rely on humans to provide baseline data about what constitutes a quality site; but say in a case where a bunch of links with targeted anchor text suddenly appear pointing to a new site, the algorithms check that rank boosting link love with the original human-created “quality” specifications – if the site itself doesn’t stack up, my understanding is no matter how many good links are pointing in, that site still won’t get top rank.

SEO’s are pretty creative folk, so an algorithm that can duck and weave around gaming without major “updates” rolled out every X months would perhaps help level the playing field a little and get us thinking more about WUW (What Users Want) rather than WGW (What Google Wants).

I see various reports about Google using X hundred different ranking factors, Yandex says MatrixNet builds a formula based on tens of thousands of factors; which they say allows ranking to be customized for specific class of search queries – so (perhaps) bye-bye collateral damage so common in major Google updates.

You don’t need to just settle for Search Engine Land’s fine article on the topic, Yandex themselves have a bunch more about MatrixNet, Spectrum and their other ranking technologies on their own site. I’m still trying to digest it all :).

I for one will welcome our new algorithmic masters – if they get it right of course. Will these “living” algorithms be spammable? More than likely, but perhaps search engine spammers won’t be penalised in the future, they’ll be terminated. Hasta la vista, Black Hat.


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