Company's Web site no longer top result in search on infernal phrase.
Linda Rosencrance, Computerworld
Wednesday, October 02, 2002
Microsoft is no longer considered to be hell, according to the Google search engine.
Last week, Computerworld reported that if someone typed the phrase "go to hell" (with quotes) into Google's search engine, the No.1 ranked search result was Microsoft's home page. AOL.com ranked a close third behind the site Hell.com, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill came in sixth.
Just two days later, however, Hell.com topped the list of search results for "go to hell," and Microsoft, AOL, and UNC were nowhere to be found--at least not in the top 30 diabolical search results.
So, what happened?
Microsoft Gets Redeemed
"Every 30 days Google switches over to a new index," said Nate Tyler, spokesman for the Mountain View, California-based Web search company. "Every time we do a new crawl of the 2.4 billion Web pages, we come up with a new index."
Tyler said it was just a coincidence that the index was refreshed right after the Computerworld story appeared.
Even so, Danny Sullivan, editor of the Darien, Connecticut-based newsletter "SearchEngineWatch," isn't so sure.
Was It Human Intervention?
Sullivan acknowledged that Google constantly performs updates and that on Thursday, September 26--the day after Computerworld's story appeared--the search engine company made significant changes in how it looks at links across Web sites.
Nevertheless, Sullivan said he wouldn't be surprised if humans examined the search indexes to see what was producing Microsoft's No. 1 ranking in the "go to hell" search--and to figure out a better way to rank sites. (Google's indexes are updated automatically.)
"That would have been done separately from the [automated] changes that were made," he said.
All Links Lead to 'Hell'
Sullivan said that one reason Microsoft initially topped the "go to hell" list of Web sites was probably that Google searches look at the number and target of people's "go to hell" links. If a lot of people had "go to hell" links pointing to Microsoft, then Google might conclude that it was the best match for that search.
In fact, Sullivan said, searching for the phrase go to hell Microsoft (without quotes) served up 273,000 Web pages, though a number of those pages have come up in the past two weeks. And a search on the phrase go to hell AOL (again without quotes) returned 412,000 Web pages, he said.
Those results suggest that a number of people don't think highly of those two companies, Sullivan observed.
By comparison, a search on the phrase go to hell Ghandi returned just 7430 Web pages, he said.
"It seems a lot of people are telling those companies to go to hell," he said.