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22Jul/10Off

Think like a Google

You haven’t found me blogging much lately. For a while now, I’ve been determined to avoid falling into the annoying company of those who blog on a schedule rather than when they come across a fresh insight or other useful revelation.

But then the phone rang a few minutes ago. I found myself listening to a robotic (though admittedly fetchingly feminine) voice urging me to stay on the  line. She proposed that I press One, which would not only extend our conversation but also give me the lowdown on how it was that she could guarantee a low-cost way to get my website “onto Google’s first page”.

Now it may be possible that since she is a robot and Google is a robot, the two of them have cooked up something that can make this improbable promise come true, but I doubt it(so I pressed Two).

This was not the first pitch for Googlic domination I’ve been subjected to this week…nor, if you receive a normal volume of e-spam, would it have been the first for you. Large amounts of otherwise productive time are being lavished in pursuit of high placement on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), because they are in fact the virtual equivalents of “location location location” for brick-and-mortar outlets (á la March’s rant).

Since claiming a URL costs a tiny fraction of renting a retail storefront, and since outfitting an actual store is likewise much more expensive than developing a website, the inevitable downside is what MBAs call a low Barrier to Entry. In other words, overwhelming competition. The reality is exactly that: since anybody can afford to go into virtual business, most of them have.

Into this daunting competitive thicket go all of us, at first optimistically hoping to find a piece of web engineering trickery that will yield bigtime Google placement. If there ever were such a simplistic fix, it didn’t last for long.  We know this because we have learned to think like a Google.

Googles are busy busy robots. Always in a hurry to finish one job and get onto the next, there aren’t enough hours in the day for them to get everything done. But that doesn’t mean they are sloppy or likely to skip over important details. But perhaps because so many SEO (search engine optimization) experts have tried to trick them, they have become somewhat mistrustful. When you think like a Google, you find yourself becoming downright suspicious.

Take, for instance, meta tags. When you whiz through a page while pretending you’re a Google, you learn to ignore just about everything jammed into those meta tags unless they relate to what’s actually on the page. You start to figure they’re put there to keep you from checking out the real deal…what a human reader sees when s/he looks at the actual page.

When you think like a Google, you  begin to actually resent pages that promise keyword riches in its meta tags, then neglects them on the actual page. Or has repetitious keyword jumbles all over the place. Or the exact same information you ran into a year ago on a thousand other pages, or phrases that any English-speaker would find unnatural, or anything else that seems out of place to a human being.

The thing is, thinking like a Google means resenting those who evidently assume you as a Google are less than human. It also can make you angry, judgmental, and even make you want to penalize somebody.

By the way, in case you actually are a real Google, I guess you know how the penalizing thing works.

-Your Human Friend,

Mitch
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