Saturday, December 04, 2004

Memo To Search Engines

Memo to Search Engines re: Blogs.

Dear Messers Google, Yahoo, and MSN,

First of all, thanks for the wonderful service you all provide. By typing in a few key words, you folks tend to be able to turn up almost any information I desire. Whether I'm curious about the reign of King William I, a list of pop hits from 1942, or finding a recipe for that Minnesota church social staple - booya, your fine stable of geeks have been able to look the world over and present a reasonable facsimile of the information which falls within the parameter of my search request. But there is a niggling little problem I would like to call to your attention... you truly suck at guiding users to the proper pages of blogs.

When you send someone to my blog, no matter what specific information they're looking for, you typically dump them onto my front page. They're quite lucky if the infomation they're looking for remains there. Often the information they want has already gone to the archive by the time you deliver them.

Let me explain to you a bit about how these "blog" thingies work, so you may correct this problem. When I write to my blog (and I have done so to the tune of over one hundred thousand words so far - Blogger quit counting the words in apparent frustration with my verbiosity a few weeks ago), each new post appears at the top. That means subsequent posts drop down the list. After a short period of time anything that used to be at the very top of the page, is no longer on the front page at all. It sits in an archive page - still accessible though. And here's where you guys come in. You're supposed to be good at finding information on the web - and the info is indeed still there.

As an example, when someone does a search for "Royal Bitch wine," (and judging by the stream of incoming traffic a surprising number of people apparently do), you folks are all over the map, and all wrong.

Google, I love ya, but I really don't want to get dozens of links to hardcore porn when I'm looking for something to serve my dinner guests (serious warning - do not follow the links on that Google return page - no matter how innocent the title - unless you don't mind a little graphic porn, and I suspect a little spyware).

Yahoo, I'm flattered that you decided to make my review of Royal Bitch 2004 Reserve Chardonnay the number one returned listing for anyone looking for "Royal Bitch Wine." But you dump any such folks at the top of the main page of my blog. People are going to be mighty confused when they come in expecting information on wine and find me hitting them up for money, or delivering excerpts from Russell Kirk.

MSN, what I said to Yahoo above applies to you as well.

Look folks, blogs are not a tiny back corner of content on the Web anymore. Your search engines, valuable as they are, need to figure out how to find information in blogs and deliver users to it. Google, you own Blogger for gosh sake, and your search engine did the worst of all three at finding relevant information hosted there.

Anyway, I have confidence you will all treat this problem with the urgency it deserves.


Doug, from Bogus Gold


Blogger PolicyGuy said...

Here's what it looks like from where I sit.

People who do searches sometimes end up on my site. It can be for something on the main page, or something in the archieves. They get to the page, but not necessarily the permanlink / entry / link. As far as I can tell, to Google (et al.) my entries from, say, October, are just one big file called "October," and google doesn't drill down to anything more specific. I'm not sure that it's possible, since, as I said, "October" is, on my server, just one big honkin file.

This leads to some interesting and disappointing results for web users. Someone who is looking for (to make up an example) "Medicaid budget cuts in New York" gets directed to a file on my site because in in three different entries over three different weeks, I discussed budget cuts made to Minnesota cities, the long-term fiscal disaster that awaits Medicaid in any state, and the fact that New York has been sued for unfair treatment of out-of-state vineyards.

Did I say anything about Medicaid budget cuts in New York? No. But because all the terms showed up in October, the person looking for, well, Medicaid budget cuts in New York is sent to my site--and perhaps puzzled if not aggravated in the process.

Yeah, there's some work to do. What? I have no idea.

3:17 PM  

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