Search Scientist Talks Sense on SEOs vs Engines

Thread Title:
SEO's, spam and Information retrieval
Thread Description:

The more I read Xan Porter's blog, the more I like it.

He has commented today about how the search industry doesn't know what to do with SEOers.

  • Are we spammers (some undertake spam style techniques, for sure)
  • Are we data miners?
  • Do we increase quality?
  • What are we?

Depending on where you are in the chain of search we will all have different viewpoints. But one thing that Xan says stands out for me.

If we could define a body similar to W3C for SEO activities, where IR professionals could also join in, perhaps the rift between the two disciplines could slowly fade away.

His blog is on my perm list of RSS feeds. I suggest you add it to yours too!


IMHO, some people already "get it"

Collaboration is key, agreed. And yes, some "SEO" folks are spammers...and others do *nothing* that a competent web developer / marketer / publsher shouldn't have done in the first place.

Is the page about Red Shiny Widgets? Then why not include that in the title tag, and perhaps in large font, above the fold, so that when the user lands on the page, they understand it's *relevant* to what they looked for?

Talk to enough people on both sides of the fence, and you'll see that this is becomming a 'majority' view, imho - though that's just my perspective.

Imagine a world without SEO, and no publishing standards, and lots of broadband connections. Folks might publish the entire doc in an image (so it's looks the same in all browsers) and then leave the title tag blank ;) The user might not know the difference from the text based site of today...but, it would spell trouble for search engines if everybody published their text this way, imho.


So who is this guy Jason?

On a related topic, i see Danny finally got his indexing summit arranged:

I went forward with scheduling one for our upcoming SES New York show and just got a last confirmation for the panel. All four major crawlers, Yahoo, MSN Search, Google and Ask Jeeves, will be taking part -- and much thanks to all of them for stepping forward to participate.

Don't expect anything immediate to come out of the panel. It's unlikely that any new ideas will be suddenly embraced by all four then and there. But it is an opportunity to raise ideas for them to consider and hear some preliminary thoughts about why something might or might not be workable.

I'll keep my skeptical hat firmly in place, though it will no doubt prove interesting if only to see how close we end up coming to changing the way html works in order to please the Search community pffft....

So who is this guy?

He first appeared on the forums in the recent update thread at SEW. I especially enjoyed reading him and Orion go back and forth for a change of perspective.

I'm 99% convinced he works for MSN. Why else would an IR geek host his blog with Microsoft ;)


Thanks your_store

Orion's conversations make my ears bleed, what must it be like with two of the buggers eh? i'll pop over and have a look :)


There's actually a couple of Information Retrieval researchers apparently on that thread - it does make for some interesting reading - especially if you skim the technical details and get straight to the conclusions.

I am as sure as I can be that

I am as sure as I can be that Xan works for a major search company. The main clue points to Microsoft as the blog is hosted via MS' spaces service but that could just be done to throw some confusion into the discussion.

Whether Xan is or isn't a search engine employee I must say that my sources (Stealing a NickW term there) say that Xan's colleagues and employers are not aware who the owner of the blog is and it is not sanctioned.

Personally, I don't care if Xan works for Google, Yahoo Microsoft, Ask Jeeves or any of the multitude of smaller search companies or is purely undertaking academic research, as the posts on the blog throw some doctorate level knowledge into the frame for us mere mortals. The only letters I have before my name are M and R!

On the technical level I also agree with 90 odd % that Xan says and on the other 10% it sure has made me take a 2nd look and think long and hard about key areas of search. It's that 10% that I want to read and I hope Xan (and others?) continues the work and hopefully post more and more for me to think long and hard about :)

I've bumped into Xan

I've bumped into Xan Many times at SEO-GUY forum (where he notes his locatin as London),
I always read his posts very very carefully,

I don't know if he works for any of the big SE but I do know that -
I almost ever love what Xan has to say and he is one of the few worth to hear voices in the industry slash community

Search scientists in seo forums

Well, I hope he says more interesting things than Orion, the self-appointed "expert" who just rehashes Information Retrieval 101 once and again but in a deliberately obscure manner to make it seem unnecesarily complicated, and withouth giving any real hint at how modern search engines operate.

Hehehe.... Nope...

They are quite alike (in that they post complicated stuff that needs to be translated to hands-on SEO first - I haste to add).

But luckily there are others in that thread, or on other forums/blogs FTM, who seem to be able to apply the geeky stuff, maybe throw up an example or two, and don't mind being corrected if they misinterpret the heavy science somewhat.

My real complaint...

... is the 'unnecesarily complicated' bit: it's a lot easier to read the actual SE papers and patents (if you skip the formulas)!

On top of that, little of what he says is of value for a SEO.

I have no special reason to throw dirt on the guy, but...

I for one take EVERY seo post...

...with a grain of salt. Even my own - the next morning :-)

Whenever I read about a new theory, fact or tool, I go out and test it. The heavy scientific stuff is just a bit harder to test, but it can be done. Especially with guys like randfish around.

Anyway, Orion doesn't seem to talk 'sloblock' in the thread linked above, so he gets the benefit of the doubt with me. Same with xan - who I "met" at seo-guy. I try to read both their stuff and apply their knowledge to my particular situation. Do I take their posts as "law"? Nope. But they both (and others) get me to think outside my box, which is definitely helpful in a fuzzy business like SEO.

I agree that "unnecessarily complicated" is just a way to come over as super savvy, but alas we all have our problems with self-presentation. I tend to be unnecessarily trolly sometimes. :-)

Also, you're right that it takes a lot of comments and examples by other posters to get to the SEO-related stuff. Thank heavens for all the contributors to this LSI/IR thread in particular. If not for them, I'd not have made it to the end of the thread last Sunday morning ;-)

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