The Ranking of Irrelevancy

Ranking protocol, the staple of many businesses, could be defined as a simple system on the surface, but past that it’s far more convoluted than would be expected. The slightest miscommunication could spark confusion over the entire business network, customers especially. And with ranking being based on so many different factors, it starts to resembled a spider web, intertwining all kinds of criteria together to come to a calculated conclusion.

For example, many businesses have a “Top Rankings” system and it’s often misunderstood exactly how that system functions. When a business displays a “Top 3” list, many like to believe that it’s calculated in an entirely different way than it actually is. A ranking system is simply an algorithm to play teacher and rank entries based on cumulative data for the person or product. Even so, this seeming simplicity is anything but when explaining exactly how such a system works, as it involves machines and calculations impossible for the human mind to comprehend.

For example, when a web-based search engine ranks top search results it leads some to assume such a ranking applies to all search results when, in fact, it is determined by more personal factors, the most noteworthy being search query, which makes an immense amount of difference by using different keywords and their relative popularity when used in other queries for other subjects. An algorithm's task is to simply show relevant results, not to rank said results based solely on the number consecutive queries.

Some find the ranking system obsolete and useless, that trying to optimize for ranking factors is short-term thinking. Such action would give a sense of favoritism and programming a search engine to prioritize certain keywords over others is due to the algorithm's calculations, nothing more or less. Humans may have created and programmed it, but it must operate on its own with the very limited programming instructions it was designed with.

In fact, many top results have no ranking at all, as algorithms function based on the number of links, consisting of mostly long-tail queries which lack any hyperlinks. It’s also possible that some results are new or obscure and simply haven’t been linked to yet, but they are still relevant to one’s query, meaning the algorithm accounts for those results when they’re discovered as it is simply unable to find them without links. The sheer number of active results are unfathomable, and even machines are fast but not fast enough and is still bound by the restrictions of its programming. If it wasn’t designed to find something it won’t without human intervention.

Therefore an algorithm must be able to constantly change and adapt for other ranking signals, while ranking content based on an arbitrary ranking system would be a sever restriction, not being able to provide users with the most relevant content for their queries. It’s far from a perfect solution, but it is the best available and search engines care far more about providing the most relevant content to a user’s query than ranking results on a meaningless popularity ranking.