Some vague web musing: while reading Cory Doctorow’s “Metacrap” essay on metadata, I noticed this:
Certain kinds of implicit metadata is awfully useful, in fact. Google exploits metadata about the structure of the World Wide Web: by examining the number of links pointing at a page (and the number of links pointing at each linker), Google can derive statistics about the number of Web-authors who believe that that page is important enough to link to, and hence make extremely reliable guesses about how reputable the information on that page is.
He’s right, of course — that’s how Google works. But while reading this, it occurred to me that this implicitly rewards websites that consist of small numbers of large pages, instead of high numbers of short pages; if your site has a page for ever sub-heading (think of a Linux HOWTO document here), and a linker to your site links to the page that’s relevant to what they’re talking about, your Google ranking will be lower than if you keep the document all in one page and use named anchors.
Personally, despite what Jakob Neilsen thinks, I prefer the all-in-one page mode myself. It’s quicker to download (overall), easier to print or read offline, and I’m not afraid to use a scrollbar. Interesting to see Google (accidentally) recommends it too ;)
The rest of the essay is spot on, in my opinion.
BTW, Cory also writes for Boing Boing, one of the coolest mags I used to read back when, and now a top-quality weblog.