June 26, 2011

Customized Google

Once upon a time in the early days of the intertubes, like last year, you and I could Google the same phrase and get the same results. As we continue down the path of Minority Report where every advertisement ever is customized for our interests and needs of that moment, Google is not so simple a tool as it once was. You see, based on your history and your interests and various brainwaves in specific key areas of your brain, Google can predict what sites would be of most interest to you based on your search parameters.

Humor aside, Google the company has modified its search algorithm so that Google the search engine takes into account various information it has collected about you and customizes your search results to best provide you the results that you would most likely want based on your search parameters and personal tastes.

I don't mind this so much. I mean, yes, it's one more layer away from our privacy onions, but it's not any more intrusive than Facebook and doesn't require me to go into my privacy settings to uncheck boxes that clearly cross a line every four months.

Where this really takes away the fun for me is looking at my analytics here on the website/blog. One of the fields you review is search terms that people used to arrive at your site.

  1. what is being factual?
  2. "moss troll problem"1
  3. henchman street history, boston, ma
  4. hobo writing2
  5. jennifer hillier creep3
  6. jlselby.blogspot.com
  7. josephlselby.com4
  8. sarah megibow rejection partial

I was particularly interested in where I showed up in the Sarah Megibow rejection list (her name is Sara Megibow by the way, without the H). Searching through the first ten pages, I could not find a result that came to my website. Really, if something isn't in the first ten pages, it's not worth finding. SO, this leads us to one of two possible conclusions:

Option 1) My search is customized differently than that person. I'll never know just where I appeared in their search results.

Option 2) That person looked farther than ten pages, in which case, dude, you need to chill. Yeah, Sara rejects partials, including mine and if you went past ten pages, obviously yours as well. Be happy she requested a partial. Plenty of people got passed. Look at the silver lining. And unless you pull out the dick response, she'll be more than receptive to your next query. (She was challening me to submit my next manuscript the NEXT DAY after she passed on my partial. And I picked up that throne gauntlet with alacrity. If this is a duel, it's one I'm going to win. But I'm going to do it with class and manners. So don't be a dick, crazy person.)

Option 35) Someone was trying to find my blog post the other day and thought it would be faster to look over pages of Google search results than scroll down the front page of my website. Because, you know, sure, whatever. I got nothin'.


1 When you put quotes around a search phrase, you are telling your search engine that you want an exact match. Don't look for individual words Moss, troll, and problem. No, that person has a moss troll problem specifically and needed to come here to try and figure out what to do. This is weird because I don't believe I've ever discussed moss trolls before nor do I know how to deal with them (giant slugs would be my first suggestion, though). Still, thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed your time here.

2 YES! Someone is searching for hobo writing! I have officially coined a phrase! (Pauses to make sure it wasn't me. ... no, no it wasn't.) WOO HOO! I hope to go hobo writing again soon.

3 Muah ha ha ha ha, someone Googling Jennifer Hilier's new book came here instead. See that, kiddies? You don't need to write a book, you just need to filch other people's fame. Awesome. I'm winning!

4 Wait... You Googled josephlselby.com to figure out how to come to josephlselby.com? Isn't that like asking what the number is for 9-1-1?

5 I know I said there were only two options, but that one is technically an option too. An incredibly lazy, more work than just coming here, round about way to remember a post I just published last week.

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