April 6, 2010
I talked to Christian Rudolf tonight about search. It is not uncommon that we talk about links, blog posts and what is happening in the onlinedom. We started talking about what the true essence of search optimization is really about. We both agree that it is about meeting the visitor with exactly the content they want to find for that query. In many cases we believe we are better than Google at determining this for the simple reason that we are people and they are mainly an algorithm.
I can’t talk for Christian, but that is at least why I have no problem bending the rules in the Google guidelines to achieve results. That’s for my own projects. Most of my clients have enough link steam that they just have to build their websites and fill them with findable content, and they rank in prominent positions as a result. They are fortunate.
The hidden web is still concealed
There is so much good content on the web. Only a fraction of it is today published in a format that is accessible through the search engines. There is a huge resource in the “hidden web” that are yet to be unleashed. Once we start making more data formats available for search and clustering, there will be a completely new set of search results a user will be able to browse through.
Today we use related information as a result of meta tags. Imagine the same relevance, but instead of linking documents you are linking pieces of data. I know it is difficult to imagine, so I’ll try to give you an example. What if you traveled to Hamburg and you wanted to eat a hamburger in a restaurant that served good food close to the hotel.
How linked data really works
The search results currently being returned for a query like that is a very broad approximation of what your keywords might really mean. But if you are able to link data, then the search engine will be able to take the place Hamburg, which it knows is a city in Germany, then look at the data sets of distances to restaurants and match these with online reviews for the returned venues. That way they will be able to return a result to you, not based on keywords, but based on the meaning of your search.
Sounds pretty sick right? And for now we have to use our best manipulation, architectural and infrastructure knowledge to try and create, promote and justify content that is relevant enough for you to feel satisfied with your search result. As Google is a bot, they would never be able to return as relevant search results if it wasn’t for the work of search engine optimizers. We make relevant content meet the users need, and not only their typed in keywords.
And that’s in a sense why SEO’s are like Internet Doctors
I suppose we’re a bit like Internet doctors. Sometimes your stomach pain means you are lactose intolerant, and sometimes it means you are just bubbly from a night out partying. Yes, we earn money from our practices, and yes, some of us do bad deeds and promote content that doesn’t meet the quality standards you would expect. But the vast majority of us are not in it do destroy, we’re in it cause we love the internet (use google translate if you don’t know Swedish) and want to help improve it.
As search is such a great part of the Internet experience, we have chosen this mechanism as our arena to help you find your stuff. I too wish that we could rid the cancers of the Internet body, but as with all open, free systems, there are people who are willing to abuse them. I am no saint. On the contrary I have done a lot of things I am not particularly proud of. Although I try to justify them in the name of science I still feel bad when I set out an experiment that effects the web in a bad way.
And some unusually distorted final thoughts
To end with the beginning, and my discussion with Christian. There are a load of misconceptions about what search engine optimization is all about. I believe it is all about finding out what the searcher wants and then deliver the best possible content for the query that need is represented by. Almost like a doctor.
It is late and I just wanted to get this out of my system so that I could sleep.