Be Careful What You Google For
By Bill Bittner, President, BWH Consulting
Just think… If Albert Einstein could have had a “magic window” in his home that had allowed him access to all the world’s knowledge… What would he have done with such a resource?
Of course we have such a tool today, with our PC’s and broadband access to the Internet. The problem is that there is no “Internet editor” who validates (or, some would say, censors)
the information that is posted.
Google and the other search engines get fees from advertisers for featuring their sites on result screens and by placing ads on sites that seem relevant to their products. Thus
a tent manufacturer might be listed on the right side of a results page or have a link placed on a Web site dedicated to camping. In the later case, the Web site receives a portion
of the Google advertising fees for being the source of the consumer’s inquiry. The ranking of a Web site in the search results is partially determined by patented algorithms that
count the number of interrelated links between various Web sites.
The Google method for reimbursing Web sites and ranking them has led to a proliferation of sites designed merely to collect revenue from Google. These sites may contain some
superficial articles on a subject, but their main purpose is to trick the Google algorithms so they gain a high ranking and earn income from users who use their links. Google
is constantly trying to modify its algorithms to stay ahead of the imposters.
The net result of all this “portal spam” is that searches done through Google become less useful. Instead of finding meaningful results, the user is confronted with a bunch of
meaningless sites, while the really useful sites who are not “playing the game” end up relegated to the bottom of the results, if they show up at all. People end up abandoning
the Internet for their locally focused and trusted source, the Yellow Pages.
Moderator’s Comment: Do you think Google’s relevancy rules work well enough? Have you become frustrated with the results you get from search engines?
Are manufacturers and retailers getting the value for their Google dollars or is it just more “noise” to the consumer?
In response to the on-going battle, Google does editorial reviews of their results and attempts to avoid meaningless references by “sandboxing” Web sites
that suddenly appear under popular subjects. The goal is avoid listing sites that are created solely to take advantage of the latest craze.
I see an opportunity here for a more “human based” reference tool that uses real people to compile the results for searches. Rather than search all the
pages on the Internet, this tool would only search a set of sites whose legitimacy had been verified. The result would be more appropriate answers for the user and more productive
advertising for the companies referenced. –
Bill Bittner – Moderator