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Google: No hand-tuning search results

Search giant won't hand-tune search results to get the right Web sites on the top of the list. But it will hand-tune the algorithm that ranks search results.

As part of Google's effort to shed a bit more light on its search work, the company on Wednesday detailed some of the process it uses to order the results its search engine produces.

The most interesting element of the post by Amit Singhal, a Google fellow who oversees the area, is a discussion of why the company doesn't manually elevate particular search results to obtain the right order. However, the company does of course hand-tune the algorithm that ranks the results, so you can consider manual intervention still relevant at a higher level.

Google gives two reasons for its prohibition against manual intervention. First is its belief that its own individual judgment is never as good as the collective judgment of the Internet overall, whose hyperlink structure forms part of the basis for Google ranking.

Second, fixing the algorithm rather than a specific result, if done right, helps more than just one particular search. "Often a broken query is just a symptom of a potential improvement to be made to our ranking algorithm. Improving the underlying algorithm not only improves that one query, it improves an entire class of queries, and often for all languages," Singhal said.

Though the company has talked earlier about how it doesn't hand-tune specific search results, Singhal went into a little more detail. Not a lot, though: the post is more of a teaser that lays some groundwork, but Singhal promised more later.