According to Wordtracker, “britney spears” is the 16th most popular search term on the Internet. That adds up to a lot of search traffic. (Yes, “sex” is #1, in case you were wondering…) Now I don’t make it a habit of searching for “britney spears” (although I do think Britney’s Guide to Semiconductor Physics is a thorough yet approachable primer on the subject). In fact, it was my colleague Brian Klais, a VP here at Netconcepts, who actually made this discovery. (Purely research, Brian assures me!) And the discovery is this: Google.com holds the #7 spot in Google for “britney spears”, with a totally irrelevant, useless list of misspellings of Britney’s name. This page is a dead-end for users, and even borders on being “spamglish.”
How did this happen? Well, the sheer weight of Google’s PageRank score from the Google Job Opportunities page combined with the link text used on that page (namely: “Britney Spears”) has propped this page up to a top slot, undeservedly so. This situation emphasizes the need for Google to evolve their algorithm so that the link juice has greater dependency on topical relevance. In other words, in the case here of Britney Spears pages, Google should have given more ‘Googlepoints’ to links from pages/sites that actually have something to do with pop stars, music, etc. In the meantime, I think it would be in good form for Google to add a rel=”nofollow” href attribute to the Britney Spears link on their Job Opportunities page and let some other, more relevant Britney fan site have that #7 slot. For those who don’t know, the nofollow link attribute was a recent invention by Google to thwart blog comment spammers. But it can also be used to stop the flow of the link juice (PageRank) to ANY link. Google should use it on their own links in cases when they know that not doing so will pollute the SERPs with irrelevant results from Google.com pages. In fact, I think ALL PageRank 10 websites, due to the powerful PageRank that their sites wield, have a responsibility to employ nofollow when linking to useless pages.