Humans get bigger role in search

Google said it may start using more human interaction to improve its search, following the launch of a search site that uses only human labor.

Just a few days after the introduction of a search engine that works primarily using human labor, Google says "me too."

"People think of Google as pure algorithms," said Matt Cutts, search quality engineer at Google, speaking at the Search Marketing Expo in Seattle on Monday. "We've recently begun trying to communicate the fact that we're not averse to using some manual intervention."

Cutts' comments follow the launch Wednesday of an early version of, a new search engine that operates using people who dig through the Internet manually looking for quality sites. currently can deliver results for 4,000 popular search terms with plans to reach 10,000 terms by the end of the year. Workers weed out spam sites, sites with overbearing advertising, pages that regurgitate information without giving appropriate credit to the source and sites of unknown origin.

Over the last couple of months, Google has altered some explanations on its Webmaster Guidelines pages to reflect changes it may make in how much human interaction affects its search results, Cutts said. Google has changed the wording in places from saying that certain functions operate 100 percent using the company's search algorithms to now saying more vaguely that the company uses scalable and robust techniques, he said. "We're trying to make the distinction that humans are a wonderful way to improve search quality but we have to do that in a way that is scalable and robust. Our Webmaster Guidelines have changed to reflect this possibility," he said.

Some Google functions do fully work using the algorithm. For example, the algorithm designed to prevent Google bombing, where people cause certain sites to rank, usually for an obscure or humorous search term, uses no human intervention, Cutts said. "The Google bomb algorithm is completely automatic," he said. It runs once every three or four months, he said.

Google uses human interaction for a variety of different functions such as acting on spam, he said. "Google does reserve the right to use humans in a scalable way," he said.

Additional human interaction might come if Google decides to allow anyone to report people who buy links in order to try to improve their search rankings. "I wouldn't be surprised if we add something on the Webmaster console to report that," Cutts said.

He also said that Google may re-write its guidelines to include more detail about the types of techniques that could get sites banned. Currently, the guidelines include often vague instructions, such as to avoid link schemes designed to boost a site's popularity. That can include a number of different tactics, which Google doesn't spell out. "It would be great to start giving more examples," Cutts said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?