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Part 1

If I search for “The New Pornographers” I AM LOOKING FOR The New Pornographers’ website!

But instead of delivering me to it Google serves me this: Wikipedia, MySpace, three YouTube videos, Matador Records, Last.fm–then http://www.thenewpornographers.com/.

Strange. Not intuitive. But not a huge inconvenience either, but there’s no mystery around what I’m searching for–so why does Google serve me a few 3rd party sites first?

Perhaps they’re smarter than me, and with all the data at their fingertips they know most folks who search for “the new pornographers” end up at Wikipedia?

Doubtful.

Part 2

Today I searched for “panico’s cape may”–a great Italian joint in Cape May, NJ. Here’s what I got from Google: Yelp, Tripadvisor, Restaurant Passion, Google Maps, Urbanspoon, JerseyMenus… the restaurant’s website (http://www.panicosbistro.com/) isn’t even on page 1!

How could that be?

So, here’s what I think is happening: PageRank’s importance is faulty–or, more specifically, Google’s reliance on it is. It just shouldn’t matter how many inlinks there when there’s an instance of clear intention in the search query. I’m not sure Google is dynamically applying PageRank: when search query is focused/sharp > demote it; when it’s muddled > rely on it.

Perhaps my intuition about what natural language search scientists should be able to do with my queries is grandiose.

Let’s see if this changes with an upcoming update.