Web links and search engine ranking: the case of Google and the query "Jew"

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Web links and search engine ranking: the case of Google and the query "Jew"
Authors: Judit Bar-Ilan [edit item]
Citation: Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 57 (12): 1581-1589. 2006.
Publication type: Journal article
Peer-reviewed: Yes
Database(s):
DOI: 10.1002/asi.20404.
Google Scholar cites: Citations
Link(s): Paper link
Added by Wikilit team: Added on initial load
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Web links and search engine ranking: the case of Google and the query "Jew" is a publication by Judit Bar-Ilan.


[edit] Abstract

The World Wide Web has become one of our more important information sources, and commercial search engines are the major tools for locating information; however, it is not enough for a Web page to be indexed by the search engines-it also must rank high on relevant queries. One of the parameters involved in ranking is the number and quality of links pointing to the page, based on the assumption that links convey appreciation for a page. This article presents the results of a content analysis of the links to two top pages retrieved by Google for the query "jew" as of July 2004: the "jew" entry on the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia and the home page of "Jew Watch a highly anti-Semitic site. The top results for the query "jew" gained public attention in April 2004 when it was noticed that the "Jew Watch" homepage ranked number 1. From this point on both sides engaged in "Googlebombing" (i.e. increasing the number of links pointing to these pages). The results of the study show that most of the links to these pages come from blogs and discussion links and the number of links pointing to these pages in appreciation of their content is extremely small. These findings have implications for ranking algorithms based on link counts and emphasize the huge difference between Web links and citations in the scientific community.

[edit] Research questions

"One of the parameters involved in search engine ranking is the number and quality of links pointing to the page, based on the assumption that links convey appreciation for a page. This article presents the results of a content analysis of the links to two top pages retrieved by Google for the query “jew” as of July 2004: the “jew” entry on the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, and the home page of “Jew Watch,” a highly anti-Semitic site."

Research details

Topics: Ranking and popularity [edit item]
Domains: Computer science, Sociology [edit item]
Theory type: Analysis [edit item]
Wikipedia coverage: Case [edit item]
Theories: "Undetermined" [edit item]
Research design: Content analysis [edit item]
Data source: Websites [edit item]
Collected data time dimension: Cross-sectional [edit item]
Unit of analysis: N/A [edit item]
Wikipedia data extraction: N/A [edit item]
Wikipedia page type: N/A [edit item]
Wikipedia language: English [edit item]

[edit] Conclusion

"The major conclusion of this content analysis is that Web users who link to both these pages view linking as a game. The collaborative effort of a large number of bloggers and forum participants can influence the placement of certain sites, at least at Google, but since Google is currently the most popular search tool, this finding cannot be dismissed.

Another interesting issue is the ease with which a huge number of links can be inserted or deleted through a simple edit of the blog sidebar or of the signature file. Consequently, the content of the postings to the blog or to the forum remains unchanged, while the sidebar or the signature file is changed, and these may influence our interpretation of the postings (especially since signature files can be long). We call this process “rewriting history.”

The third point is the use of invisible links by site or forum owners. The participants in the forum are probably unaware that each message they post contains a link to a site the owner of the site wants to promote (or demote if the anchor text is negative).

This case study demonstrates the social context of Web linking, where a motivated group of users inserts a large number of links to a certain page to influence the placement of that page for a given query. Such behavior is totally incomparable with traditional scientific-citation conventions (see Baird & Oppenheim, 1994; Cronin, 1984) and with the basic assumption underlying ranking based on inlinks (“Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B;” Google, 2004a). This phenomenon, if it exists on a large scale, endangers the quality of rankings based on link analysis. One of the implications of this study is that greater care should be taken to differentiate between types of links when employing link-based rankings."

[edit] Comments

"The results of the study show that most of the links to these pages come from blogs and discussion links, and the number of links pointing to these pages in appreciation of their content is extremely small."


Further notes[edit]

Facts about "Web links and search engine ranking: the case of Google and the query "Jew""RDF feed
AbstractThe World Wide Web has become one of our mThe World Wide Web has become one of our more important information sources, and commercial search engines are the major tools for locating information; however, it is not enough for a Web page to be indexed by the search engines-it also must rank high on relevant queries. One of the parameters involved in ranking is the number and quality of links pointing to the page, based on the assumption that links convey appreciation for a page. This article presents the results of a content analysis of the links to two top pages retrieved by Google for the query "jew" as of July 2004: the "jew" entry on the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia and the home page of "Jew Watch a highly anti-Semitic site. The top results for the query "jew" gained public attention in April 2004 when it was noticed that the "Jew Watch" homepage ranked number 1. From this point on both sides engaged in "Googlebombing" (i.e. increasing the number of links pointing to these pages). The results of the study show that most of the links to these pages come from blogs and discussion links and the number of links pointing to these pages in appreciation of their content is extremely small. These findings have implications for ranking algorithms based on link counts and emphasize the huge difference between Web links and citations in the scientific community.and citations in the scientific community.
Added by wikilit teamAdded on initial load +
Collected data time dimensionCross-sectional +
CommentsThe results of the study show that most of the links to these pages come from blogs and discussion links, and the number of links pointing to these pages in appreciation of their content is extremely small.
ConclusionThe major conclusion of this content analyThe major conclusion of this content analysis is that Web users who link to both these pages view linking as a game. The collaborative effort of a large number of bloggers and forum participants can influence the placement of certain sites, at least at Google, but since Google is currently the most popular search tool, this finding cannot be dismissed.

Another interesting issue is the ease with which a huge number of links can be inserted or deleted through a simple edit of the blog sidebar or of the signature file. Consequently, the content of the postings to the blog or to the forum remains unchanged, while the sidebar or the signature file is changed, and these may influence our interpretation of the postings (especially since signature files can be long). We call this process “rewriting history.”

The third point is the use of invisible links by site or forum owners. The participants in the forum are probably unaware that each message they post contains a link to a site the owner of the site wants to promote (or demote if the anchor text is negative).

This case study demonstrates the social context of Web linking, where a motivated group of users inserts a large number of links to a certain page to influence the placement of that page for a given query. Such behavior is totally incomparable with traditional scientific-citation conventions (see Baird & Oppenheim, 1994; Cronin, 1984) and with the basic assumption underlying ranking based on inlinks (“Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B;” Google, 2004a). This phenomenon, if it exists on a large scale, endangers the quality of rankings based on link analysis. One of the implications of this study is that greater care should be taken to differentiate between types of links when employing link-based rankings.
links when employing link-based rankings.
Data sourceWebsites +
Doi10.1002/asi.20404 +
Google scholar urlhttp://scholar.google.com/scholar?ie=UTF-8&q=%22Web%2Blinks%2Band%2Bsearch%2Bengine%2Branking%3A%2Bthe%2Bcase%2Bof%2BGoogle%2Band%2Bthe%2Bquery%2B%22Jew%22%22 +
Has authorJudit Bar-Ilan +
Has domainComputer science + and Sociology +
Has topicRanking and popularity +
Issue12 +
Pages1581-1589 +
Peer reviewedYes +
Publication typeJournal article +
Published inJournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology +
Research designContent analysis +
Research questionsOne of the parameters involved in search eOne of the parameters involved in search engine ranking is the number and quality of links pointing to the page, based on the assumption that links convey appreciation for a page. This article presents the results of a content analysis of the links to two top pages retrieved by Google for the query “jew” as of July 2004: the “jew” entry on the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, and the home page of “Jew Watch,” a highly anti-Semitic site.f “Jew Watch,” a highly anti-Semitic site.
Revid11,042 +
TheoriesUndetermined
Theory typeAnalysis +
TitleWeb links and search engine ranking: the case of Google and the query "Jew"
Unit of analysisN/A +
Urlhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1002/asi.20404 +
Volume57 +
Wikipedia coverageCase +
Wikipedia data extractionN/A +
Wikipedia languageEnglish +
Wikipedia page typeN/A +
Year2006 +