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Wisdom and the Google

One of the main reasons for this company's success is that it has realised that its most important resource is the collective intelligence of everyone who uses the web.

When the web first became popular amongst the masses, the main way to get a site noticed would be to use meta tags. These are keywords that describe the type of data that the site contains. These words would be contained in the HTML code (the language used to construct we pages) at the top in the "head" area of the page. Such data would be invisible to the reader of the page. Robots sometimes known as spiders or crawlers would scan the pages and they would then be rated by particular search engines. Here is an example of a page header:

<TITLE>Fishing World</TITLE>
<META name="description" content="The British fisherman's premier fishing magazine">
<META name="keywords" content="fish, fishing, rods, bait, rivers, permits, boats, lakes, lochs, trout, salmon, cod, carp, perch, pike">
</HEAD>

This method is now dated although search engines can still use this at least in some small part to rank sites. Google uses a PageRank algorithm to do this. Obviously this is complex, but essentially how it works is it looks at what other websites (pages) a web producer is linking his / her website to. Each link to one of these pages is counted as a vote. The more links the more votes and hence the better the website ranking. Hence the crowd is deciding - many people around the world are making websites and hence creating links to other pages. Each individual person is making the decision as to which pages to link to. The Google crawler is aggregating these results. A classic case of Wisdom of the crowds in action."

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