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July 19, 2009

Britannica: #1 at Google

Today, for the very first time in my experience, The Encyclopedia Britannica was the #1 result at Google for a query.

It’s good to see the EB making progress with its online offering, but I’m actually puzzled in this case. The query was “horizontal hold” (without quotes), and the EB page that’s #1 is pretty much worthless. It’s a stub that gives a snippet of the article on the topic, but the snippet oddly begins with definition #4. The page then points us into actual articles in the EB, but they’re articles you have to pay for (although the EB offers a “no risk” free trial).

So, how did Google’s special sauce float this especially unhelpful page to the surface? And why isn’t there a Wikipedia page on “horizontal hold”? And does this mean that if there’s no Wikipedia page for a topic, Google gets the vapors and just doesn’t know what to recommend? Nooooo………

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