Google: What Does Relevance Mean?

May 11, 2019

Here’s the question for you: “What’s relevance?” The answer — if I understand the allegedly true information in “Google Creates ‘Dedicated Placement’ in Search results for AMP Stories, Starting with Travel Category” — is what Google decides you may see.

Forget the AMP thing because it is a content tiering play. No AMP, no display in a special section of results. Simple. Easy to understand, right?

Why is this important?

  1. Most users (searchers) accept what Google delivers, and Google delivers what generates revenue..
  2. The majority of users want convenience and will not want to spend time “looking for information”. (When one does not exert data energy, what one gets is good enough. Try to explain this information issue, the fish only know water. The world of gaseous oxygen is a tough concept.
  3. Users do not perceive the scope of the machinations which content producers and advertisers eager for clicks and eyeballs undertake in order to appear in the special AMP listing. Few care or have the knowledge foundation to discern the machinery grinding away.

Google pulls the strings. Relevance is what generates revenues or helps Google meet its objectives.

## puppet 300

Who controls relevance for a particular person looking for information?

Does this redefinition of relevance impact me and my DarkCyber researchers? No. The reason is that we know that search results on Google are skewed. We know content disappears from the index. We know that to track down a particular citation or document we have to resort to old fashioned methods. Phone calls, use of niche search tools, and even visits to libraries with information on microfilm are not unusual for us.

The problem is that for a majority of people looking for information online, those skills and the knowledge which lubricates their functioning is either gone or quickly eroding.

Try to find the US Army’s updated guideline for software procurement via Google? Try to locate information about Threatgrid and its connections to other security firms. Try to locate documents germane to the CMS MIC program which back up and sometimes replaces FBI personnel’s investigations of health care fraud. Try to find English language content about Moonwalk, a video service of considerable interest to some people.

For years, I have retained some interesting content because I know that content may not be findable the next time I use the “AMP’ed” up Google or the other aggressively filtering Web indexing systems. Sometimes you can hear my team’s teeth gnashing over the whine of our local storage systems.

I call this the findability crisis. Someone has public information, but others cannot find it. Therefore, that information is effectively unfindable or “gone.” Hasta la vista.” And there’s no, “I’ll be back” for these content objects.

With shallower indexing and deletion of “old” content (which some call either history or evidence), the world of free, ad supported Web search and retrieval is going medieval. To get information, one has to be one of the top one percent of information professionals.

Interesting? Only if one knows what’s happening, gentle reader.

Relevance? Yep, new definition. New world of information. Knowledge is not power. Knowledge is danger maybe?

Stephen E Arnold, May 11, 2019


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