Monday, 25 January 2010

Is Google deceiving you?

Have you ever put your name into Google? I know I have. Were you number 1? If you were I'll bet you gave yourself a little pat on the back.

It's funny how much we credit to a Google top spot. I often hear people say "We're number one in Google". Sounds impressive, doesn't it? But don't be deceived. Getting to the top of Google can bring you no traffic whatsoever. Nothing. Zip

King of a very small hill

Most of us like recogntion. So, when someone praises us, we get a bit excited.

Google is big. And Google ranks things. So, when Google says we're number one, we start to hear the fanfare begin. Isn't it exciting?

Maybe. Or maybe not.

You see Google is all about relevance. Let me say that again: relevance. When you search for 'Terry Wogan', Google tries to give you the websites most relevant to 'Terry Wogan'.

Let's do that shall we. Here goes:


So number one is Terry Wogan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Google deems Terry's Wikipedia page more relevant than number two: BBC - Radio 2 - Shows - Wake Up To Wogan. Users will take more notice of the Wikipedia page when they view these results, because it's at the top.

What's new here? You knew all this, didn't you?

Here it comes: the pivotal question. Write this on your hand. What if no one searches for Terry Wogan?

"What? He's a national treasure. Of course people search for him." Let's imagine they don't. All of a sudden Wikipedia's success with Google seems a bit hollow. Their top spot isn't worth the money they may have paid for it (that's another story).

You see Google is trying to help you, no matter what obscure, crazy, term you're searching for. It helps millions of us every day. Try searching for Obama custard scandal. Look, 32,000 results! But do you really think anyone else is searching for that phrase?

A mountain worth climbing

So where do we go from here? The top spot can be worth a lot. But not necessarily.

If you're aiming for the top, make sure you do keyword research. It's all about analysing the phrases people are really searching for. Doesn't that sound sensible?

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