Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Use of Social Media for ranking results

This post is a related to the previous post (Google explores re-ranking).

Using Social networking data (as well as user preferences, profiles, even browsing history) to give better results looks like the only way (easy way!!), as of now, for any search engine today to improve their results. This is one of the reason why Facebook(750 million active users as of now) is considered a huge threat to google. The notion of Facebook entering the search domain has been around for sometime now (and has been ridiculed by many ). The fact remains that most users would prefer looking at a webpage or buying stuff , if that is already recommended by someone they know (google's +1 or FB's "like","shared" features).

My concern is, this would leave out people who do not use social networking sites a lot. A medical professional might still use google on a regular basis but might not be active in Social network sites , or may not even have a google/gmail id (to get profile preferences).

Another concern is the misuse of these parameters. There are already known ways to boost a website's google rank (some good, some not so good). This was also discussed in class with the example of "miserable failure" keywords pointing to websites of George Bush. There is an interesting term for this concept - "Google Bomb" . There is a good chance that these new social n/w features might also be misused. Here is an article where a user was able to boost his website's ranking only based on "like" clicks, without any backlinks.

This is also mentioned in the previous post's article -
But if Google’s going to start using those +1 votes, the company is virtually inviting the world’s spammers and blackhat SEO magicians to flood its social networking system with fake profiles and fake votes — potentially ruining it and possibly making the problem of search spam even worse.

For these reasons, I think the research on improved IR methods/ranking algorithms should continue with minimal user data.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with the above post, but at the same time dont you think that the social networking data should be used.

    A small example to support this view. A student wants to buy a dress(essentially to look the best) for the prom at school. He/she would definitely want to take into account the suggestions that the fellow students might have though not all the times.

    Now if the same is done by google by taking into account what my other friends are buying, liking etc I don’t see much difference rather I would say google is helping me out.

    Hence I suggest probably google on its search page can have two views each supporting--
    1)Using suggestions and recommendations from friends

    2)Using the normal search engines with good ranking algorithms etc.

    I bet no one prefers to become a frog in the well and people are open to exploring new options too!!!