Google weirdness

Google is doing some weird things of late, and I’m not referring to their whacko stripped-down-Windows-only-and-why-would-we-want-another-one-anyway IM client. I’m talking results. For example, pages at The Daily Grind are the second hit for ‘ugly wedding dress,’ and the first for ‘Ridgeback Genesis,’ a type of bicycle.

A search for ‘CITV,’ the children’s bit of national broadcaster ITV in the UK, quite reasonably produces the CITV homepage (warning: noisy embedded Flash) as the first link – but the next result that refers to this particular CITV, 14th in order (update: up to 11th while I type this entry?!), is this story I wrote about the new CITV channel. Indeed, I’m the top Google hit for ‘CITV channel,’ which is ludicrous.

The lessons? There are three. Firstly: comments like the weird ALL CAPS one from ‘hammad’ can be useful in alerting one to oddities. Secondly: hiding web content behind Flash sites or login systems is self-defeating. Let me repeat that, since it’s something I thought website engineers had learned years ago: hiding your content means that Google can’t find it, and hence nobody else can either.

See, Ridgeback’s site, while functional, is impossible to link to (frames? What is this, 1998?). If I wanted to point you to my bike – and I do, I think it’s terrific – I couldn’t. Bad bad bad. The story I wrote on it is rambling and mostly not about bicycles at all, but what I do say about the Genesis is positive – so, happily, anybody doing their research will walk away with at least vaguely reasonable impressions. But really, they should walk away with a link to Ridgeback’s site, not mine.

The CITV Channel thing is even more stark. There’s a decent story at The Guardian Online, which is where I learned the news. But it’s part of the Media Guardian area of the site, which is freely accessible once you’ve signed up. Result: no Google hits, and anybody looking for more information on the channel ends up at my site.

Folks, get a clue. Hire Hugh, or something.

The third lesson? There’s something odd about Google’s results, I just can’t put my finger on it. But I’ve a feeling that if anyone does, they’d be able to take a big chunk of Google’s market share. Lots of people were top dog in search before Google, and it’s not obvious to me that Google will have the last word on the subject.

5 thoughts on “Google weirdness”

  1. I blame managers who demand actions without fully understanding their consequences, even when it’s been explained to them. I’ve crossed paths with more than a few in my time.
    Seriously, I’ve had to deal with something similar to this at work. A management decree from on high dictated that all users would have to register to view our sites. I explained why this wasn’t a good idea, but they said they wanted it anyway. Then they wondered why page views were haemorraging, not making the connection (and apparently they weren’t falling fast enough to warrent turning off the registration feature). And just a couple of weeks ago, I had someone ask me why our sites appeared so far down Google’s rankings, again failing to see any connection. Naturally they wanted to exclude Google from the authentication mechanism (which I refuse to touch with the proverbial bargepole, it’s a weird nsapi plugin thing and they fired the only person who had any clue how it worked a couple of years back – no-one’s dared go anywhere near it since).
    Given that we make a fair bit of money from advertising, I’m at something of a loss as to how this is helping our bottom line, but on the other hand I get paid regardless and don’t expect to be there for too much longer…

  2. And talking of Naked Jungle – hello John. I think I’ve probably got several jobs with naked Jungle on my CV…

  3. I’ve been wondering too, having noticed what sites I get if I search for Alan Bell, and then search for Alan Bell’s – I’d expect both to come up with the same thing, or am I missing something?
    Interesting comment from Mark about registered sites. We’re in the middle of a “heated debate” about the car club’s website and making it members only, with some of us none too happy it’ll actually increase membership. If it means the club’s going to disappear from the search engines, then we’re stuffed, aren’t we!

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