So I've known for a while that if you google my name, you come up with my profile and blog 1-2 in the list. But yesterday I discovered if you google "China Tea Ceremony Scam" that my blog entry on China appears first on the list. VERY COOL. Tried a couple of variations on the phrase, and mostly I came up in the first few entries.
So how are search entries ranked by search engines? I know relevance to the phrase, but there must be some other factors to choose one page as first over the other.
It mostly depends on links. The more links to a page, the more 'authority' it has, especially if the subject of those pages (as determined by their text and the pages linking to them in turn) is the same as of the first page, and the linking pages have a lot of authority themselves. (travellerspoint.com has pagerank 7, or maybe even 8 if I remember correctly, which means that it has lots and lots of authority.)
As you've linked to your travellerspoint blog on the various other travel sites you visit (by having it set as your homepage), and those travel websites will often mention the word china (not to mention that travellerspoint itself also does this), there's probably a lot of weight coalescing around your blog for that search term.
Then we use semantically meaningful markup on the weblogs here at travellerspoint, which means that search engines better understand what things are about. Google "knows" that "china" is part of the subject of that particular blog post, whereas it might have to guess on other websites.
So, your weblog in general is trusted to be an 'authority' in general for a number of subjects, "china" being one of them. And then all the websites which write about the tea ceremony scam will use some common other words, which you also use, by which it's known that you're all writing about the same subject. So the one with the highest authority which is trusted to write about that specific subject and which has no penalties for being a suspected spam site and a couple of more caveats like that gets ranked at the top.
Always nice to have some authority, even if it is only computer generated...
I just noticed that Google has a BLOG search, so I did the same experiment. "China Tea Ceremony Scam" still shows up my blog entry at the top of the regular search, but it doesn't apepar in the top 30 pages (!) in the blog search. In fact, after the first few entries, there is very little in the blog search that seems relevant, other than the fact that they have a long list of keywords.
The blog search engines (google blogs, technorati, etc) tend to order their results more by the date they were posted. They tend to be about freshness more than relevance.
Just on the topic of having Google return your travellerspoint page when you do a search for your name, are you guys able to give us the option of making surnames private to prevent this?
The reason I ask is that when i realised that travellerspoint was doing this, i became mindful of making any comments that my employer (or potential employer as was the case when returning from overseas) might easily find and use to discriminate. For example, writing that I’m planning on moving overseas 6 months from now might leave me unemployed if the boss finds it. Equally, writing about how you're planning only to return to work to save enough to holiday again might make it difficult to get a job to begin with.
It took months for Google to stop showing me at the top of the list after i removed my surname.
I’m happy to have my name on the site for use with the reunions tool and don’t mind if other travellerspoint users see it but I don’t want travellerspoint listed as #1 on the search results when searching for me.
Any thoughts on this or am i being paranoid?
Hi John, the reason we allow those details to be indexed is in fact the reunion section. We have had quite a few reunions through the site, but virtually all of them were because they found the name on Google.
However, you are quite right that it really should be optional - because not everyone wants to be found It is in fact on our to-do list and the way things are going it will probably happen in the next few months. (as well as a general simplification of the signup form). It will still show up if filled in, but we will add a warning so people understand the consequence.