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.