Thursday, December 18, 2008

when USF means university of san francisco

for years and years and years, a google search for USF gave the university of south florida - with its 46,000+ students, its four campuses, and its beefy $1.8 billion annual budget - top billing. yet as michael robertson has been saying since 2007, there's really only one USF. these days, as some of my students from intro pointed out last week, the real USF is back on top.


....J.Michael Robertson said...

I think in our small way our blogs have led the charge.

Anonymous said...

michael - i think in a big way our blogs have led the charge.

but i also think that in a bigger way our students' blogs and other forms of media making have helped lead the charge. for years, i've been telling my students: tag! tag! tag! i tell them to tag relevant posts with both USF and university of san francisco.

now, it seems, it's beginning to pay off. said...

@ Michael & David - it would be REALLY interesting (to say the least) if a formal analysis can show a positive correlation between the student blogs and the Google results ranking. Also, if we factor in, for both universities, the no. of student blogs, the frequency of postings... will we see some pattern emerging? Intuitively, as bloggers, we're not surprised (even convinced) that the blogs made a difference. So far, I'm not sure if any studies have been done to verify what bloggers have been advocating for years. Maybe a student project, David? :)

Anonymous said...

hey ivan!

what an interesting set of research questions. i'm not sure how one would approach a study like that but i'm going to mull it around a bit. i do think it would require some understanding of how google works and i'm still not precisely sure how they derive their search results.

as for similar research (ie: studies that try to do what you suggest) i'm not aware of any.

Amber said...

Yay, we won!

Just Me Mike said...

It was nice while it lasted, sadly the university of south florida is back up top. :-(

....J.Michael Robertson said...

This is a cage match. It's not over till it's over. said...

i do think it would require some understanding of how google works and i'm still not precisely sure how they derive their search results.
Hi David, I don't think anyone outside of Google knows EXACTLY how they derive their results. From this conference, I learned that Google uses up to 200 over indicators or "signals". But I found this book useful. Chapter 1 explains that it depends on: terms appearing in the title of webpage, appearing in unique font elements (bold, italics), other “prominent” areas of pages, e.g. Bulleted list, frequency in which the terms appear on a page, off-page metrics like no of links to that page.

The display of the results depends on which country you're accessing Google. Searching for the same keywords will display different results when I'm in different countries.

That's why I thought one main hypothesis could be the number of student bloggers, at least those who identify themselves with the universities.