CondeNast Portfolio: Google Baffles Us


Understanding search engines and natural search may be the most important skill of the 21st century. At the very least, search engine knowledge will save you from an embarrassing faux pas.

For example, Felix Salmon of Conde Nast Portfolio posted this morning on “Google’s Top 10 Universities.” The only problem? He doesn’t understand how the Google search engine works.

Vanity Fair quotes Google’s Larry Page on the logic behind the Google search engine: “Even in the very early days when we were at Stanford, you could type “university” into Google, and you actually got the top 10 universities. I think that basic notion really helped us a lot.”

In, a sister company of Vanity Fair, Salmon blogged about the VF article and conducted the Page search on his own:

“So, of course, I typed “university” into Google, wondering where Stanford would come up. And the answer is: 12th. On the first page, the Wikipedia page for “university” comes top; the rest of the page is five UK universities (Cambridge, Oxford, Leeds, Warwick, and Durham); two Canadians (Toronto and Queen’s); and two Australians (Monash and Sydney). Not necessarily most people’s idea of the top 10 univeristies, but an interesting list all the same.

Of course it’s not everyone’s idea of the top 10 universities because Salmon was based in the UK. Google still thinks he is. Or perhaps, he did the search from the UK. Based on the early posting hour, that’s a good possibility.

Salmon’s bio:

Felix Salmon arrived in the United States in 1997 from England, where he worked at Euromoney magazine. He also wrote daily commentary on Latin American markets for the former news service Bridge News, freelanced for a variety of publications, helped set up the New York bureau of a financial website, and created the Economonitor blog for Roubini Global Economics. He has been blogging since 1999.

Salmon is a graduate of the University of Glasgow.

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