SEO Quiz

I thought it might be fun to put together an SEO Quiz.

How many of the following can you get right?

I’ll post the answers later. The answers are now listed, after a spoiler warning below.

1. Stanford University’s PageRank is named after?

a. Ranking Web Pages
b. Satchel Page
c. Larry Page
d. The Palo Alto Gradient Evaluation
e. None of the above

2. Which of the following search engine crawling models has not been proposed in either an academic paper or patent for emulating how people might visit web pages?

a. Random Surfer
b. Rowdy Surfer
c. Cautious Surfer
d. Reasonable Surfer
e. None of the above

3. Which company wasn’t started by two students who walked away from finishing their degrees.

a. Google
b. Yahoo
c. Microsoft
e. None of the above

4. Which of the following is not a Microsoft search ranking algorithm?

a. fRank
b. Ranknet
c. Trustrank
d. Poprank
e. None of the above

5. Google’s Local Search algorithm probably doesn’t use:

a. Location Prominence
b. Location Sensitivity
c. Location Awareness
d. Location Confidence
e. None of the above

6. Which of the following pagerank algorithms is from Microsoft?

a. Topic Sensitive Pagerank
b. PigeonRank
c. Block Level PageRank
d. User Sensitive PageRank
e. None of the above

7. Which of the following is not a search bot’s name:

a. Gulliver
b. Scooter
c. Jimbob
d. Slurp
e. None of the above

8. Which is not a Real Search Engine Ranking Algorithm?

a. SALSA (Stochastic Approach for Link-Structure Analysis)
b. HITS (Hyperlink-Induced Topic Search)
c. SMART (Simple Multi-Attribute Rating Technique)
d. Hilltop
e. None of the above

9. Which is not an early name for one of today’s major search engines

a. Backrub
b. Ben and Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web
c. Ask Jeeves
d. MSN Search
e. None of the above

10. Which of the following is not a well known model (in the information retrieval field) for information seeking:

a. Berry-Picking
b. Information Foraging
c. Sensemaking
d. Orienteering
e. None of the above

Answers below the spoiler warning.









1. c. Larry Page – PageRank is named after Larry Page, who is the inventor listed on the original PageRank patent.

2. b. Rowdy Surfer –

The Random Surfer makes an appearance in the 1998s paper The PageRank Citation Ranking: Bringing Order to the Web, by Lawrence Page, Sergey Brin, Rajeev Motwani, and Terry Winograd. A Random Surfer might click on any link that it finds on a page at random, with a chance that it might leave the page completely at any time.

The Cautious Surfer comes into attention in the WWW2007 poster, A Cautious Surfer for PageRank (pdf) by Lan Nie, Baoning Wu, and Brian Davidson. It’s described more fully in Incorporating Trust into Web Search (pdf). If a cautious surfer believes that a page it is on is trustworthy, it is more likely to follow links from that page. If it feels that the page is untrustworthy, it might leave and go to a random (and more trustworthy) page.

The Reasonable Surfer is described in Google’s patent Ranking documents based on user behavior and/or feature data. My post Google’s Reasonable Surfer: How the Value of a Link May Differ Based upon Link and Document Features and User Data is an attempt to describe how the Reasonable Surfer might operate. A reasonable surfer is more likely to click on some links it finds on a page than others, and the patent describes a set of features about links, the page the links are on, and the pages that the links point to, that might be considered when deciding which page a person might click on next.

I’m not sure what a rowdy surfer would do.

3. d.

Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who both left Stanford before completing their Ph.D. degrees.

Yahoo’s two founders, Jerry Yang and David Filo, left their doctoral programs at Stanford after faced with success at Yahoo.

Microsoft’s Paul Allen and Bill Gates didn’t leave their degree programs at the same time, but both jumped into business before collecting their diplomas. Bill Gates took a leave of absence from Harvard, and never looked back. Paul Allen left Washington State University after two years to work as a programmer, and soon after talked Bill Gates into starting Micro-soft.

Ask was founded by Garrett Gruener and David Warthen, who are both alumni of UC San Diego.

4. c. Trustrank

Both Yahoo and Google have dibs on an algorithm known as Trustrank, or in Google’s case “Trust Rank.” Yahoo’s originates in research between Stanford University and Yahoo, which resulted in the paper Combating Web Spam with TrustRank (pdf), and describes how web spam pages might be identified on the Web. A Google patent, Search result ranking based on trust defines trust ranks for entities (people, companies, etc.) who create labels or annotations for documents found on the web.

There are a few different places where Microsoft describes Ranknet and fRank, but one good place to learn more about them is the paper Beyond PageRank: Machine Learning for Static Ranking (pdf)

Poprank is a way of ranking “objects” found on the Web from Microsoft, and is described in the paper Object Level Ranking: Bringing Order to Web Objects (pdf)

5. d. Location Confidence

The other choices are from Google patent filings that describe aspects of how Google may be looking at different features related to local search and how businesses at specific locations might rank for queries in Google Local. For definitions for all three, see my Google Local Search Glossary

6. c. Block Level PageRank

The sources for the others:

Topic Sensitive Pagerank (pdf) – Google’s Taher H. Haveliwala, while at Stanford University

PigeonRank – A Google algorithm, from April 1, 2002.

User Sensitive PageRank – a Yahoo patent.

Block Level Page Rank is written about in the Microsoft paper Block-level Link Analysis. It is similar to PageRank, except instead of operating on a page level, it focuses upon segments of pages, or blocks. A single page can have multiple segments, and each can have their own “pagerank.”

7. c. Jimbob

Gulliver – the bot from Northernlight, which once was a public search engine and now develops “Strategic Research Portals.”

Scooter – the name of one of Altavista’s robots

Slurp – the name of Yahoo’s web crawler. Not sure how much more of Slurp we will see now that Microsoft has taken over the search index at Yahoo.

There are a large number of web crawlers, and it’s possible that there may be one out there with the name Jimbob, but I couldn’t find one.

8. c. SMART (Simple Multi-Attribute Rating Technique)

Sources for the following:

SALSA (Stochastic Approach for Link-Structure Analysis)
HITS (Hyperlink-Induced Topic Search)

There really is a SMART (Simple Multi-Attribute Rating Technique) process, but it doesn’t involve search engines.

9. Ben and Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web

OK. Trick question. Backrub became Google, Ask Jeeves removed the “Jeeves,” and MSN search evolved into Windows Live, and now Bing. Yahoo started off as “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.” Ben and Jerry make unique flavored icecreams.

10. e. None of the above

There’s a really nice description of these different models of information seeking in the book Search User Interfaces, in the chapter Models of the Information Seeking Process. The book is available free online.


61 thoughts on “SEO Quiz”

  1. What an amount of faith I must have in blind luck, to even consider a geek quiz crafted by the likes of you, Bill. I had visions of it being focused on patents, in which case, I’d have only added to your bounce rate.

    Also eagerly awaiting tomorrow’s post.

  2. Thought I knew quite a lot about search engines; but the quiz has started making me think the other way. Looking forward to the replies. Be lucky even if I get one right.

  3. Very interesting questions. Thanks for a little break from the ordinary Bill.

    @ Steve, I’m with you on that one. :)

  4. My brain has a capacity and if I’d known the answers to ALL of these questions then I’d have probably overwritten more useful SEO information as a result, like how to turn my laptop on. :-)

  5. Can’t wait for the answers….Like previous poster not feeling too confident, looks like I better get reading more of this blog!!!!!

  6. Yikes, tough quiz Bill. I had to guess at least 3 answers and am unsure about 2 others… Can’t wait to see the answers!

  7. You know I am a fan! And after reading you for a while now, I feel I should know all of these, but Number 6 has really tripped me up! 😉

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  9. Thanks, everyone for all of the comments.

    I tried to make some of the questions fairly simple, and some of them pretty tough. Hope you all had some fun trying to answer the questions.

  10. :) well, must confess that I took a stab in the dark on a couple of those. But I’ll happily take the 7/10 I scored.

    Thanks again Bill 😀

  11. My score was really bad. But, happy to reading such a great info and my knowledge is increased… Thanks… :)

  12. Hi Thomas,

    I think I spent more time thinking about how to present this quiz, and let people score their results than I did writing it, and providing the answers. Ultimately, I decided to keep it as simple as possible.

  13. Good work. I’m just amazed about this. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. Thanks for providing detailed answers too.

  14. I really enjoyed this quiz – we run an in-house SEO training programme where I put together a series of 12 tests, quizzes and assignments over the course of the 3 month probationary period and am always on the look out for fresh perspectives and ways of wording/asking industry-related questions.

  15. Cool idea, did not score as well as I thought I would initially though :( but its always good to know what you have still left to learn. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Hi Matthew,

    Setting up training programs for SEO can be challenging but fun. I’ve done some of that myself. Maybe I’ll do some more in the future here.

  17. Hi James,

    The biggest problem I had with writing this quiz was trying to gauge how easy or hard to make it. I ended up trying to include some easier questions, and some that I figured would be really hard.

  18. Hey Bill, thanks for this awesome SEO quiz. It was great fun and I learnt a bit in the process. As usual, great content!

  19. Hi Bill,

    I just find your blog and i’ve been reading some of your articles. I must say they are very interesting, great writing.

    This one with SEO Quiz is interesting, as you think you know the most about SE’s and SEO but with a quiz you easily find out what you don’t know. Perfect when someone else puts a quiz together so you know what you lack knowledge about.

    Thank you. Keep up your good work!

  20. Nice! great fun and an interesting read, has definitely highlighted some further reading! maybe this should become a returning feature,,,not that im competitive,,, ha ha!

  21. Thanks Bill. You definitely know your stuff – some of those were really difficult questions!
    I particularly liked the question, which search engine was founded by two gurus that DIDN’T drop out of college. The answer was obvious, but it hadn’t occurred to me before that Yahoo, Microsoft and Google all hit their success prior to completing their degree. I’d like to see more quizzes like these!

  22. Hi Spencer,

    Thank you.

    The founders question was one thatI thought might challenge a few people because the original founders of aren’t discussed much, and Paul Allen’s role at Microsoft tends to be a little overshadowed by Bill Gates.

  23. Great quiz and stepping stone for dialog. Thank you for taking the time to put this together! Look forward to more in the future.

  24. Great quiz. I didn’t do very well as it’s not my speciality. But thanks anyway

  25. Bill, honestly you bring a new twist to search. I’ve read so many search engine blogs, but your blog is actually about search engines. Knowing about the behind the scenes stuff we’re optimizing for is worth the read, and I know I’m learning new stuff everyday when I come across a question or two that I learned the answer to on your blog. Given that I only got 6 of the answers correct, I still greatly enjoyed the quiz :).

  26. Hi Jonathan,

    Good to hear that you enjoyed the quiz.

    One of the reasons why I write so much about patents and papers from the search engines is because it gives me a chance to learn about them, from the perspective of search engineers, and to share what I learn. I’ve gotten a lot of ideas when it comes to optimizing pages from peeking a little inside the black box of search.

  27. Hi Dom,

    Thank you. I like the idea of coming up with things like quizzes for team building. If you’ve had the chance to try that, I hope it turned out well.

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