Popular Mechanics asks 20 questions of Udi Manber, who is a VP of Engineering at Google on core search quality. My favorite:
There have been a lot of fads in search of late, such as Human Assisted Search and contextual search. Do those get folded into search as a whole? What are real trends in search and what are fluff?
So let me first tell you about Google. At Google we do not manually change results. For example, if we find for a particular query that result No. 4 should be result No. 1, we do not have the capability to manually change it. We made that decision not to put that capability in the algorithm—we have to go and actually change the algorithm. That is, we have to find what weakness in the algorithm caused that result and find a general solution to that, evaluate whether a general solution really works and if it’s better, and then launch a general solution. That makes the process slower, but it puts a lot more discipline on us and makes it more unbiased.
That’s the right answer for a general/Popular Mechanics audience. For the nitpicking search junkies that read here, I’ll just add that we are willing to take manual action on a small number of issues like webspam and removals for legal reasons. The rest of the interview was also interesting.
One other interview: A few months ago I talked with John Jantsch for the Duct Tape Marketing blog, but I don’t think I pointed the interview out to folks here. The MP3 is up on the site, if you want your search engine optimization (SEO) interview fix. I think this is a pretty good interview if you’re a small business owner or a little newer to SEO.
Speaking of MP3s, I’m caught up on my Daily SearchCast and I’m looking for maybe one other podcast to add to my listening rotation. What podcast would you recommend that I try? I don’t mind something outside of search — in fact, a non-search podcast might be nice to listen to something different.