Only When the Words Outdo the Silence

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Good Ole Honesty

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There’s 1 trillion websites competing against each other. The most honest website of all? Google. Google can’t help you with your problems. If you suspect you might have herpes after a particularly courageous night out on the town, going to Google will not help you (although you may feel a vague feeling of remorse when you see the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button).

Google has no content on it at all. But Google is honest about that. You just walked into their store and said, “Please, help me – do you have anything to prevent a potential outbreak of herpes” and Google will say, quite honestly, “i’m sorry, I can’t help you, but here are ten of my competitors who can potentially help you. And, by the way, here are three more of my competitors who MIGHT be able to help you but, in full disclosure, they are paying me to tell you this.” And then Google shrugs its shoulders. That’s all they can do for you.

But that’s honesty. That’s not branding. So you’ll come back to them…

– from 7 Things Happen to You When You Are Completely Honest

Written by Cory Barbot

November 18, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Posted in google, Internet

Google Instant – We’re Not Dead

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SEO is not dead.  The rabble rousing emanating from certain corners of the internet proclaiming the death of SEO (when is this topic ever not good for a few links and buzz building around a brand?) is, again, entirely incorrect.  The update does not change the way rankings are calculated and results are still ordered (ranked).  A change in user behavior, in how they search, does not change (again) how rankings are calculated or cause Google to serve results all over the page like a  Jackson Pollock splatter painting.

It certainly appears as though it will cause traffic to cluster around fewer terms or cause people to go down rabbit holes where they might not have done so previously or a decline in impressions for mid and long tail keywords or businesses will further stratify their offerings via their site’s information hierarchy.  Right now, it’s time to pay close attention to the numbers and see what insights they provide and which of the aforementioned “or’s” actually occur.

As a side note, every time I hear about Google attempting to predict my intent I think of the following paragraph from Notes from Underground:

…Stay, gentlemen, I meant to begin with that myself I confess, I was rather frightened. I was just going to say that the devil only knows what choice depends on, and that perhaps that was a very good thing, but I remembered the teaching of science … and pulled myself up. And here you have begun upon it. Indeed, if there really is some day discovered a formula for all our desires and caprices; that is, an explanation of what they depend upon, by what laws they arise, how they develop, what they are aiming at in one case and in another and so on, that is a real mathematical formula; then, most likely, man will at once cease to feel desire, indeed, he will be certain to. For who would want to choose by rule? Besides, he will at once be transformed from a human being into an organ-stop or something of the sort; for what is a man without desires, without free will and without choice, if not a stop in an organ? What do you think? Let us reckon the chances; can such a thing happen or not?

Written by Cory Barbot

September 13, 2010 at 9:45 pm

From Deep Search

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I recently had a friend pass along a link from this site. After browsing the post titles, I can barely contain myself. Here is an excerpt from a post entitled “Deep Search: Introduction”:

Google and virtually all other search engines right now are based on link analysis, that is, they analyze the links pointing to a document in order to assess its relative importance. While this is often thought of as a major breakthrough, Katja Mayer shows that this sociometric approach itself has a long history. It was first developed in the early 20th century as a politically progressive approach to help small groups become aware of their own, often surprising internal dynamics. It was later transformed into a management technique to assess the sciences without having to deal with the intricacies of the arguments made in the ever-expanding number and size of its subdisciplines. The Science Citation Index, developed in the 1950s, seemed to offer a politically neutral, purely formal way of determining the importance of publications and scientists. This method, taken up by search engines, is now applied to all informational domains. Yet by becoming transparent, it is increasingly – like the citation index, too – subject to manipulation and its inherent limitations are exposed. The final chapter in this section is by Geert Lovink. He returns to Joseph Weizenbaum’s observation that “not all aspects of reality are computable” and asks how we can, in a historically and socially informed way, think about the flood of information that search engines try to make accessible for us. His advice: Stop searching. Start questioning!

Written by Cory Barbot

August 14, 2010 at 11:50 am

Google’s Algorithm Rules the Web

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I’m a bit late to this party, but I just came across an article on Wired about Google, its algorithms and a line that made me pull Ludgwig Wittgenstein‘s book off the bookshelf.  Before the quote, head to Google and Bing and search for “mike siwek lawyer mi.”  Compare the results:

But that wasn’t the whole story. “People hold on to PageRank because it’s recognizable,” Manber says. “But there were many other things that improved the relevancy.” These involve the exploitation of certain signals, contextual clues that help the search engine rank the millions of possible results to any query, ensuring that the most useful ones float to the top.

Google’s synonym system understood that a dog was similar to a puppy and that boiling water was hot. But it also concluded that a hot dog was the same as a boiling puppy. The problem was fixed in late 2002 by a breakthrough based on philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s theories about how words are defined by context. As Google crawled and archived billions of documents and Web pages, it analyzed what words were close to each other. “Hot dog” would be found in searches that also contained “bread” and “mustard” and “baseball games” — not poached pooches. That helped the algorithm understand what “hot dog” — and millions of other terms — meant. “Today, if you type ‘Gandhi bio,’ we know that bio means biography,” Singhal says. “And if you type ‘bio warfare,’ it means biological.”

What does this mean from an SEO perspective?  What does poached pooches have to do with SEO?

It means you should blog more.  Write posts about topics related to your business or product.  Do you sell soccer cleats?  Blog about your favorite team’s games on a weekly basis – games where soccer cleats appear.  Link back to your own site.  Not only that, but comment on other blogs about these games and link back to your site.  Then, if someone connected to you through a social media account searches for information on a game you covered on your blog, you can appear on their first page of Google results because of Google Social Search.  Seriously, it’s time to loosen the reins. Actually, I’ll take it a step further, require socialism.  And, those same topics/industries/soccer games you’re covering with your blog posts, use that information to guide some truly outside of the box link building:

Hot dog is to baseball game as your business is to what?

Written by Cory Barbot

March 7, 2010 at 8:05 pm


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