The Death of (the) God (Algorithm)

The current issue of Business 2.0 contains a column from me  on the death of the god algorithm in search. I put it this way:

The God Algorithm is dead. There isn’t a computational technique that will get
the right answer to a search query the first time, every time, the way an
omnipotent, omniscient deity would…

Mind you, watching Microsoft and Google scarf up computer science graduate students, one Stanford cohort at a time,
might make you think the God Algorithm is alive and well. Why hire so many
expensive, big-brained people unless you believe it’ll pay off to unleash them
on finding a “best” way of getting results for any particular search? Microsoft
executive Neil Holloway recently said as much, promising that upcoming
improvements in Microsoft’s search results would best Google’s within six


  1. Paul, you say better search “ain’t going to happen” and that Google is “good enough.”
    Two paragraphs later, you say, “Ordinary results are too cluttered to offer anything useful.”
    Are not these two statements in conflict? If search results are not useful, it seems like we have a lot of room for improvement.

  2. I think results are cluttered only because SEO marketers/spammers have mucked up the natural search results.

  3. Steve Graff says:

    Interesting, by mucked up do you mean adding more contextually relevant content/URLs to a search results page, rather than seeing a list of the usual suspects?
    Not all SEO is bad, and not all SEO marketers are spammers. The most common advice SEO professionals give is to make sure the copy on a website actually talks about the offered services or products explicitly rather than implicitly, and to cut down on the meaningless platitudes and me-too-isms. Hardly sinister advice, as we could all do with a little less hyperbole on websites and from companies when discussing their wears.

  4. Doesn’t the selling of keywords prove that god does not exist? Or at least, if it exists, it is completely irrelevant.