Apologies for my tardy response. I'll be sure to give everyone an
update every week, even if we don't have much news to report.
As I mentioned, we made an initial attempt to fix the blogroll problem
in December. It fixed some fraction of the results that were coming
from blogrolls, but was inadequate in a number of ways. For some
blogs, the blog roll detection didn't pick anything up. For other
blogs, it detect some items in the blog roll, but not all of them. My
colleague Rick Klau was particularly unlucky. His blog appears in the
blog rolls of many legal blogs. I noticed that we often detect every
blog but his as a blogroll entry. We've been looking at a collection
of backlink queries (with the link: operator) and still see about 50%
of the results coming from blog rolls. So there is obviously a lot of
room for improvement.
We have been working on an improved blog roll detector. Our internal
tests look fairly promising, but there is a lot of variability in blog
markup that we need to handle. It's going to be a few more weeks
until we can start to deploy it. I'll see if I can provide a better
ETA next week.
I haven't been paying attention to the Google Alerts specifically.
The accuracy I mentioned earlier was for the regular search results.
I'll make sure we add some metrics that look at Alerts quality so that
we don't forgot about it again. The basic solution is the same for
search results and for alerts, but maybe there's something more we can
do for alerts in the short term.