Seamlessly connecting buyers with skilled freelancers that can assist with making even the most outlandish projects come true is our North Star, if you like. Driven by this goal, we have recently revised our search algorithm.
Relevance vs. Reputation
In any search on the web, these two concepts are often at conflict. If you are searching something very specific (say a hotel in a city with a certain style) would you as a customer want to see something highly relevant (albeit less reputed) or the other way around?
There is no right or wrong in this debate, other than what the customers (collectively) seem to prefer, which is the basis of our new ‘self-learning’ algorithm. Very simply, we factor in that customer choice in defining where our search results sit in that balance.
Both reputation and relevance take on slightly different meanings of course in each context. In our case reputation is by and large your CERT score, and relevance is as defined below.
Where before relevance score of a profile to a search query was determined (simplistically) by the text in that profile, not the more intelligent factors in other variables, such as relevant work won and proposals sent.
What’s more, the score keeps learning by itself (in geek talk ‘machine learning’) and improves every day based on the new data accumulated in that day.
What this means for you
If you are highly qualified in a skill, let’s say ‘java development’ you can increase your score and therefore, your ranking by:
– bidding for more relevant work
– winning more relevant work
– not diluting your profile too much by including too much irrelevant text: keep it focused
– delivering high-quality work
By factoring in activity in the relevance score (as opposed to plain text), this now means you can ‘actively’ influence it and move up the ranks for the things you are good at.
Why did we change this?
Our goal as a business is, first and foremost, to serve the collective interest of the community versus the individual interest of any one user. This means that the more accurate a search query is from a Buyer, the better the overall result (regardless if someone with a lower CERT or reviews ranks below a newcomer). The relevance to any search will never fully agree with rankings based purely on the history & earnings of a user, and arguably should not as that would mean the same profiles always rank top for pretty much anything. This deteriorates the buyer’s experience.
It’s not all about ranking
Don’t forget we still remain a bidding site on jobs posted online, which means that regardless of your position (and unlike, say, in a pure search engine like Google), there is still something you can do to get your desired result.
Equally, you can still feature your profile and rank top for a category (granted this needs some improving to be more granular on keywords) and we are working on that, but you are still able to push up your profile to short-circuit the process, relatively inexpensively.
Other improvements to discovery
To make it easier for a Buyer to find your profile and not depend 100% on search, we have introduced (and are still introducing) an improved user interface with more advanced filters and sorting options. This gives the customer the option to drill deeper to find who they need to get their job done, without depending on the magic algorithm behind the search box.
What’s coming next
– More improvements to the user interface
– Applying the same principles in high level to the Hourlies page
As always, we are open to your feedback and comments, and whilst we appreciate that some will be advantaged over others, we hope and feel that over time the experience will be better for all.