As I was doing research for my history project on the first ten presidents of the United States, I couldn’t help to notice how many unrelated results from sites like Yahoo Answers, Wiki Answers, and ChaCha came up before reliable sources. These sites rank incredibly well and if you enter any query into Google in the format of a question, you are bound to see them at the top of the SERPs. When trying to do some research for a history course, I prefer not to rely on Yahoo Answers (and its competition) even though I have gotten some good information from such sites in the past.
Whenever I entered the query “problems jefferson faced” into Google, the first three results were from Wiki Answers. If you click one of those top three results, you will find that two of the answers are completely unrelated to the question and one of the questions did not even have an answer yet! But Google is still ranking these three questions on Wiki Answers as the most relevant results for “problems jefferson faced” in the world. After the Wiki Answers results came one from Yahoo Answers. Reviewing one of the replies a member put, it said that Thomas Jefferson’s main problems while in office included slavery and what to do with the Native Americans. This is not entirely true as slavery was pretty much accepted in Jefferson’s time and the Native Americans were not much of a factor until President Jackson. The real answer to that question is the large national debt and the purchase of the Louisiana Territory. Even still, Google was ranking this incorrect Yahoo Answer at #4.
Behind the three Wiki Answers and one Yahoo Answers result was finally a website that I can rely on – WhiteHouse.gov. The official website of the U.S. White House supplied me with all of the information I needed, therefore, making it the most reliable website in this query. However, due to the amount of incoming links to both Wiki and Yahoo Answers, they are ranking above the White House which already has favoritism in Google, a .gov domain name, and the most reliable information… What’s up with that?
I actually posted my irritation on Facebook right after I figured out that Yahoo and Wiki Answers were outranking the White House, and Ileane Smith of Basic Blog Tips kindly replied, pointing me to an article called 50 Search Engines You Probobly Don’t Use Yet. This article was actually quite helpful, but I don’t want to use one of these oddball search engines. I want to use the search engine that I am accustomed to, the one that’s built into my browser, and the one that claims to be the best. If I were against using Google, I would probably head for my college’s online databases, but that is so time consuming and annoying. I want to be able to type a query into Google, click on the first link, and get my answer. If the White House website was the first result, this is how it would’ve happened. But instead, Wiki Answers was hogging up the first three spots and I got nowhere with any of the three links. This is why Google needs to make some changes in their algorithm to knock these stupid answer websites to the second page of results.