Google and wikis (was Re: [Mediawiki-l] logo only shows up on some pages)

Martin Jambon martin_jambon at
Sun Feb 12 02:57:28 UTC 2006

On Sat, 11 Feb 2006, Gordon Mohr (@ Bitzi) wrote:

> Martin Jambon wrote:
>> On Fri, 10 Feb 2006, Matt Morgan wrote:
>>> Side note: I'm new to MediaWiki, but I'm having a really hard time
>>> googling for help. If I include "MediaWiki" in the search string, the
>>> results seem to return every third wiki out there, rather than help
>>> about MediaWiki. Any tips there?
>> I also noticed serious flaws in the Google results when searching for some 
>> wikis. Google seems to have problems with the "wiki" keyword:
>> Shouldn't a search for `mediawiki wiki' (w/o quotes) return:
>> ???
> It does, in position #12. And the higher results are mostly reasonable, too.

Mmmmh, I don't feel that's usual Google quality.

>> `mediawiki' alone works, so that's fine, but not expected.
> Their secret and proprietary ranking algorithms tell Google that people 
> searching for [mediawiki wiki] should get the other results higher, as 
> compared to plain [mediawiki] results. Tweaking the algorithms to do 
> otherwise might help some cases, but hurt elsewhere. They're optimizing with 
> regard to a lot of variables, so local anomalies aren't surprising. And can 
> we be sure their ordering for [mediawiki wiki] isn't optimal for generating 
> the most satisfied users (or most ad revenue)?
> Overall, they seem to be doing great ranking wikis and URLs/content with 
> 'wiki' in them. There's no evidence of any 'flaw'.

Maybe it's just a sandbox effect on my site as you suggest.
I was suspecting that all links from blogs and wikis tagged with 
rel=nofollow would have a bad effect on the ranking of these new 
generation websites (as far as I understand it's a widespread practice 
which is supposed to avoid Google bombing

>> I personally have a problem with the wiki I am running:
>> `bioinformatics wiki' should return some link to in 
>> the top ten Google results, if not first.
> How modest! :) You do appear somewhere around 60-70.

Come on, there are not 60 bioinformatics wikis!

Funny thing: I was about to say "come on, Google is not Altavista". So I 
discovered that (1) Altavista still exists and (2) my site is ranked #2 on 
Too bad nobody uses Altavista anymore.

> And, you are named in the 'snippet' shown for the #1 Google result, a 
> Wikipedia page, perhaps helped by the way you bumped your site to the very 
> top of the list of related links in an edit January 31st.
>> So I really don't know what I can do, I was used to much better results 
>> from Google for my non-wiki pages, without forcing anything. Does anyone 
>> have a similar experience? Any fix?
> It looks like your site is less than 3 months old. So step #1 would be: just 
> wait. It takes a while -- sometimes 6 months or more -- before Google trusts 
> new sites with a prominent ranking:

Very interesting, thank you. That matches exactly my symptoms.

> Separate from the sandbox effect: as your site gets deeper content, more 
> organic links from diverse sites (not just backlinks you've pushed out 
> yourself), and longer visits from happy users, you should also expect it to 
> find its "true" higher level.



Martin Jambon, PhD

Visit, the Bioinformatics Howto Wiki

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