Authority FTW: Blog Posts in Google Universal Search

Filed in Blogging, Google by Matt McGee on May 8, 2009 6 Comments

Blog search is supposed to be about freshness and timeliness, at least to some degree. That’s why we have blog search engines like Technorati, and why Google has a separate blogs-only search engine. Blog content is supposed to be a little different, a little more focused on what’s going on now.

But when it comes to pulling blog posts into “universal” search results on, timeliness and freshness apparently mean nothing. Here’s a look at the three blog posts showing up right now on a search for “U2”:


Srsly, would you look at that?!? The most recent blog post is two weeks old, and one of them is three months old. The message here is that anything Rolling Stone said about U2, even if it’s three months old, is more relevant than current articles from an actual U2 blog. (And BTW, Huffington Post can get anything it writes into the blog results of universal search. They’re even showing up right now on a search for “kentucky derby.”)

Anyway … after moderating the “Up Close with Google Blog Search” back in February, one of the things I wrote was this:

“…authority/prominence matters a little more in universal search results than in Google Blog Search results.”

Scratch that. Authority/Prominence is everything when talking about blog posts making it into universal search results. Everything.

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  1. SearchCap: The Day In Search, May 8, 2009 | May 8, 2009
  1. Glen Allsopp says:

    Hmm, I’m not sure if that is a glitch or as you say, a clear boost because of authority. There could of course be something in the algorithm for the blog results in universal search that posts that had a lot of attention (links) stay there for longer.

    Although, of course, that defies the point of them being fresh and relevant.

    Update: – The page on its own has 94 links, including one from Wikipedia. I wonder if that is the reason it’s showing, not just because it’s from the rolling stone.

  2. David Mihm says:

    What a lame search result. I think this authority kick that Google is on might be starting to get a little out of control. Just because something is on HuffPo doesn’t mean that it’s good, let alone that it deserves to stay relevant for two and a half weeks. There’s plenty of good content out there on independent blogs.

    Rolling Stone strikes me as more “ok” even though it’s older, since music is totally their thing. But is that really the last time RS wrote about U2? Surely there is a more recent post G could be pulling?

  3. Matt McGee says:

    Glen, the Google rep that spoke at SMX West on my panel did say that the authority knob is turned up when deciding what to show in universal search. My point here is that it’s turned up too much when 3-month-old posts are still appearing. 🙂

    David — yes, RS and many other authoritative sources have written TONS since February.

  4. Foolish Sage says:

    Not sure why this is a surprise. Blogs are thrown into the same pot as all other web sites for Google “regular” search. In regular search, prominence in returns is determined by PageRank (authority) and other factors. As you youself said, that is why they created a separate blog search tool where something other than PageRank comes into play.

  5. Matt McGee says:

    This isn’t “the same pot” — this is stuff pulled out of Google Blog Search and showing up as a universal search unit. It’s not blog posts showing up in regular search.

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