google algorithm Tag

Do Search Engines Need Government Regulation?

Google has spent years developing and honing their search engine algorithm to bring people the most relevant information on the web. And these efforts have been well rewarded. The name Google is now synonymous with internet-based searches, with the transitive verb “to google” now officially part of the Oxford English Dictionary. Most of us probably think of search engines as pragmatic tools which we use on a daily basis, but the fact of the matter is that search engines are a lucrative business, and Google is dominating the market with almost two-thirds of all internet searches.

In the past week—beginning with an editorial in the New York Times—there has been much debate as to whether or not the government should provide some sort of regulation over search engines. The article in the Times points out that when Google started they were a purely informational resource, providing an objective view of the web’s most relevant sites. Over the years, however, Google’s enterprises have expanded vastly, with maps, shopping, paid advertisements, email and litanies of other auxiliary projects. While business expansion is obviously a good thing, Google now has an incentive to promote their services above their competitors—which is a definite conflict of interest when, ostensibly, you’re managing an objective site.

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Getting to Know Search Engine Algorithms

Anyone looking to rank highly in the search engines needs to know a little bit about algorithms. I know, this sounds like some sort of esoteric calculus equation used exclusively by astrophysicists, but it is actually the heart of all search engines. Although there is some discrepancy as to the precise definition of an algorithm, it’s basically a method for solving problems using a precise sequence of instructions. Flowcharts provide a good analogy.

When you go through a flowchart, you are asked a series of questions and eventually led to some resolution. This is essentially of microcosm of an algorithm. Each search engine uses dozens of “signals” to comprise their algorithm, including variables such as a website’s speed, content and inbound links. As you can imagine, sites like Google, Bing and Yahoo! are constantly updating, augmenting and refining the signals used in their algorithms to ensure users are presented with the most pertinent information.

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Google Expands Algorithms to the Employee Sector

google-algorithmWhile Google has made a name for itself by implementing its trademark algorithms into its search engine rankings, they have recently taken this number crunching one step further. Now they are applying algorithms to…their employees?

That’s right. Google has had some problem retaining the most creative and influential members of its staff, and they are starting to worry that this will have a negative impact on their long term ability to compete in the online market.

As such, Google has turned to what they know best. They created a multi-element algorithm that incorporates factors such as results from employee reviews, pay history, promotion history, and much more. Still in the testing stages, Google is remaining relatively tightlipped about the exact details of this algorithm.

But, in general, the algorithm is meant to identify employees that are likely to quit for any number of reasons. Google officials have noted that it’s already worked to identify people who say they felt underutilized within the company.

While it remains to be seen how effective this algorithm is for retaining employees, it’s certainly a smart move by Google to identify key employees who may be unhappy and considering leaving. By offering them incentive packages or other benefits, they might just keep the very people that will help them remain a dominant online force.