April 13, 2006

Go, Go, S-E-O! Go, Go - Uh oh...

I saw this arcticle in the Times when it first came out, but it really stuck with me and I thought it worth sharing: This Boring Headline Is Written for Google

(Read it and come back - I'll wait.)

As they say: He who has the gold, makes the rules.

Increasingly, content is being designed to be found and well placed in search engine results. Its called SEO(Search Engine Optimization). This isn't an hyped media concept: its really happening, and it translates to real business. From a technology perspective, no big deal - this has always been the case (or the idea at least) - there's a give and take to make sure that discovery and presentation technologies stay in synch.

But having to profoundly adjust editorial policy to ensure that content is easily found in Internet search engines? Yikes. Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

Or is it all that bad?

I mean, you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover (*ahem* article by its title), and editors make those kind of editorial decisions ALL the time to drive up readership. One could argue that this uniformity helps better organize the world's information.

And this isn't the search engines' fault, per se - there is metadata information (semantic content) that augments the presented content that should be able to inform classification and rating. The problem is that too many people, over the years, have abused it for their own gain.

So search engines have had to figure out how to judge "honesty", and the best answer seems to be "speak plainly". And we (royal Internet "we") did elect to put those search engines in charge of everything (metaphorically), because, well, they really did work better at finding stuff - and heck, they're free.

Still, I'm reminded of Ben Franklin's famous phrase, "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."

Ah, what did he know? The guy was an extremist rebel kook.

I, for one, welcome our new thought overlords. God bless, and please pass the PageRank.

More on this soon.


Anonymous said...

thats why google penalizes abuse and this effects pagerank.altering content to have visibility is just lame.that is why i like to use sources like i think its pretty cool.

Dossy Shiobara said...

Sree: If a web page's title isn't relevant, why would you expect the actual page content to be?

Anonymous said...

There is always a strong influence when monopolies start to is perhaps a reasonably fair master of the virtual world when you contrast it to the things going on in the real world. Wal-Mart controls the actual universe. Censorship in practice over music, games and books by a corporation. Scary stuff.

Sree Kotay said...

dossy: Yeah, its not that I disagree or there's any malicious intent PER SE, but as bez points out with the Wal-mart thing... is that where its going? Looks like it...

Its kinda creepy - why should Google's algorithm's decide how I name my article?

I find myself doing it for maximium relevance in search engines even on this blog. This post probably should have been called "SEO: Search Engine Optimization and Editorial policy"

I suppose that its the natural consequence of creative endeavors meeting commerce and free markets, and a good reminder that there is no real editorial(artistic)/commerce wall - or at least that its REAAAAL thin.

With Walmart its money - with the search engines, its discovery and relevance.

Anonymous said...

"With Walmart its money - with the search engines, its discovery and relevance."

Which to be clear and fair, discovery and relevance leads to traffic/audience to clicks/transactions and ultimately money.