Boardroom briefing: Google searches, Papua New Guinea’s state of the economy and Instagram without ‘likes’


Google hires humans to help improve search results, Papua New Guinea’s ‘annual half-time score on the economy’, and Instagram rolls out its ‘like’ test in more countries. Readings from around the world on business, leadership and management.

Google hires humans to improve search results

Getting above of your competitors in Google searches can be crucial for competitive advantage, especially in the services sector. (It’s the reason we all get so much spam about it.)

The online search giant tweaks its search algorithms two or three times a year and an entire industry has sprung up to help you ensure your website is ‘top of Google’.

However, even Google realises that algorithms alone aren’t enough. It also employs 10,000 human contractors from all around the world—called ‘Search Raters’—to improve its search results.

Search Raters are given specific searches to do, then assess the quality of the websites the search takes them too.

‘It has been possible to produce content that looks good to web crawlers but that serves no real purpose for the searcher. The goal of the search raters is to prevent pages from displaying on inexact searches and prevent users from having to search again to find the information … they were looking for,’ observes Jon Fletcher of Marfeel.

It’s even possible to tell if the Search Raters have already checked out your website. Still, it’s almost reassuring to know there are actually some real people out there.

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PNG’s ‘annual half-time score on the economy’

Sam Basil. Credit: RNZ Pacific

Following the new Treasurer’s somewhat downbeat ‘state of the economy’ speech to Parliament last month, there will be a lot of interest in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, which is due from Treasury by the end of this month.

The ‘annual half-time score on the economy’ as Treasurer Sam Basil calls it, is likely to set the nation’s economists and bankers into a frenzy of analysis.

One of these economists is the World Bank’s Ilyas Sarsenov, who will be presenting his own take on the figures (and the general state of PNG’s economy) to an international audience at the 2019 Papua New Guinea Investment Conference in Sydney next month.

With a mini budget a possibility for the second half of 2019, as the government seeks to boost ‘the targeted areas of agriculture, fisheries, forestry, tourism, manufacturing and the small to medium enterprises sector’, business will be hoping for a more expansionary approach before the referee blows his whistle on PNG’s financial year on 31 December.

Instagram without ‘likes’

Instagram, the Facebook-owned social media platform, has rolled out a test of hiding ‘likes’ on posts. The trial has been launched in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Japan and Brazil, among other countries, and is supposed to help remove ‘the pressure of how many likes a post will receive,’ explained Mia Garlick, Facebook Australia & New Zealand Director of policy.

Instagram’s move is also a way to put an end to fraudulent ‘likes’ and promote the use of Stories, short videos that allow users and creators to engage in a different way and build communities.

However, Instagram ‘influencers’—who make income by getting likes on the platform—aren’t thrilled with the move.

The new ‘like’ policy also means influencers and social media marketing firms will need to find other ways to measure campaign success, such as online or in-store purchases driven by influencers’ posts. The move, however, could be could also be a sneaky way to increase Instagram’s paid model.

Like it or not, we will have to wait to see if Instagram changes its mind or if social media without likes is the future.

The World Bank’s Ilyas Sarsenov will be speaking at the 2019 Papua New Guinea Investment Conference in Sydney on 19 and 20 August. For further details, visit


  1. This is an assumption . According to google trends, PNG Economy is not the highly search term on google. Where is this coming from?

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