Posted by: Marshall Sponder | June 30, 2008

Google affecting editorial quality with Search Algorithms

It’s kinda weird, but everything can be overdone and “corrupted” even when the attempt wasn’t for that to happen.  When Search Engines came on the scene about 11 years ago – they just helped people find stuff they were looking for but had a hard time locating, or even knowing about.

Then, as more people figured out how to manipulate the Search Algorithms, Search Engines made changes to discourage spammers and around that time, Paid Advertising came into being.

As more and more traffic came to websites from Search Engines, mostly Google, people started to write their copy to rank better – at first it was harmless and robotic – but at least, the content still, more or less, was what you intended to say.

Then … we end up with Toxic Shower Curtins – according to an article in the New York Times today – Need Press? Repeat: ‘Green,’ ‘Sex,’ ‘Cancer,’ ‘Secret,’ ‘Fat’ where the story of the Toxic Shower Curtain and what was behind it is reveled:

“…. But if the organization’s testing methodology drew skepticism, its P.R. methodology was spot on.

Anytime you have ‘toxic’ next to an item everyone has in their house and has always been assumed to be the last thing that would harm them, you can be sure it will get picked up on the news, and the Web will spread it like wildfire,” said Allen P. Adamson, managing director of Landor, a corporate branding firm, and the author of “BrandSimple.””

“….“It’s a lot more scientific than it used to be,” Mr. Armon said, “because you’re not just trying to get media pickup, but to get search engine attention.””

Ha, Ha, Ha .. we come full circle – the search engines help you find stuff, so they write software to find and rank content that attempts to mimic the way humans process information.  But human’s adapted and now write for the Search Engines – which, in turn, are re-adapting to what people are doing.

And then we end up making a simple sheet of plastic  into a Toxic Shower Curtain to get Google’s attention, with PR Newswire‘s help, of course.

“…To aid in this endeavor, PR Newswire offers its members a so-called keyword density tool. “It lets you know the words someone would have to type into a search engine for your particular press release to be found, and helps put your release at the top of the search engine,” Mr. Armon said.”

I suppose, the story doesn’t even matter anymore – just write for the Bot ….if that’ what it’s all about …

Obviously, I don’t agree with that – but writing a Press Release so it gets Google’s attention as much as your attention is problematic – and symptomatic of one of the problem of our age – and over dependence of a few sources of information, particularly Search Engines, to manage all our information.

There is a point where writing for Search Engines becomes an attention gimmick – and ultimately, it degrades not just the information, but the Search Engines, too – at least, that’s what I think.

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  1. Good Post.

    I believe the big change occurred when people could quantify and budget how much effort (cost) it took to become or remain successful with search engine traffic.

    The fact that the search engines were capable in transforming themselves from useful self-service tools to revenue streams falls into this same category. And at the same time, explains why the constant flux (cost) in algorithms are needed to maintain or improve their position in total volume visitors or searches.

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