Our beloved/despised search engine, Google, is always changing. We typically give the same advice to people who live in a state of constant anxiety about Google’s algorithm updates: create a site that looks good and that’s well-optimized for search, then build a strong business with good community connections, interesting and meaningful content, and great customer service, and you will probably do well.
Despite anyone’s best efforts, a website’s rankings are all over the map. Here’s an example of traffic from keywords on one of our sites. As you can see, rankings went up and down dramatically over the course of the past month.
Putting your faith in Google to keep you at the top of the search results without investing in good business practices is a recipe for disaster.
We don’t know exactly what Google will do to its algorithm. But we do know some things about the current state of search. Here they are!
The Right to Be Forgotten
Google is now required, by European law, to respond to users in Europe who want to be removed from search results.
Some people praise the ruling, saying it protects an individual’s right to privacy, whereas others believe it’s a dangerous road to censorship.
I’m torn on it. Who deserves to police public information? And what exactly is public information? A famous Harvard Law Review article written in 1890 is one of the first pieces to address privacy in an age of changing communication. The following quote applies today, when everyone is a journalist of some sort, even more so than it did 125 years ago:
The press is overstepping in every direction the obvious bounds of propriety and of decency. Gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and of the vicious, but has become a trade, which is pursued with industry as well as effrontery. To satisfy a prurient taste the details of sexual relations are spread broadcast in the columns of the daily papers. To occupy the indolent, column upon column is filled with idle gossip, which can only be procured by intrusion upon the domestic circle. The intensity and complexity of life, attendant upon advancing civilization, have rendered necessary some retreat from the world, and man, under the refining influence of culture, has become more sensitive to publicity, so that solitude and privacy have become more essential to the individual; but modern enterprise and invention have, through invasions upon his privacy, subjected him to mental pain and distress, far greater than could be inflicted by mere bodily injury. Nor is the harm wrought by such invasions confined to the suffering of those who may be the subjects of journalistic or other enterprise. In this, as in other branches of commerce, the supply creates the demand. Each crop of unseemly gossip, thus harvested, becomes the seed of more, and, in direct proportion to its circulation, results in the lowering of social standards and of morality. Even gossip apparently harmless, when widely and persistently circulated, is potent for evil. It both belittles and perverts. It belittles by inverting the relative importance of things, thus dwarfing the thoughts and aspirations of a people. When personal gossip attains the dignity of print, and crowds the space available for matters of real interest to the community, what wonder that the ignorant and thoughtless mistake its relative importance. Easy of comprehension, appealing to that weak side of human nature which is never wholly cast down by the misfortunes and frailties of our neighbors, no one can be surprised that it usurps the place of interest in brains capable of other things. Triviality destroys at once robustness of thought and delicacy of feeling. No enthusiasm can flourish, no generous impulse can survive under its blighting influence.
What are your thoughts? Does the EU’s law enforce privacy, propel us toward censorship, or do something else?
Author Images Removed From Search Results
Several years ago, Google began including Google+ author images on search results for webpages that had appropriate markup. However, on June 25th, Google announced it would be removing author images and circle count (how many G+ friend an author has), to make search results cleaner.
This is after years of Google trying to convince everyone to hop on board the Google+ train, assuring us that author photos increased the click-through-rate. Author names will continue to appear, which you can see in the search results for my blogs below:
Google Isn’t a Search Tool; It’s Machine Learning
I’ve been saying this for years! Google isn’t just designed to help us find the results based on a specific search, even if that’s what it used to be. Google is trying to figure out our intention and guide us to the best results based on that assumed intention.
Like IBM’s Watson, the Google Brain is propelling us toward the singularity.
Bitcoin Currency Conversion Added to Search
Despite Bitcoin’s ups and downs this year, it seems to be holding on as an increasingly acceptable form of currency. In response to this, Google has added Bitcoin currency conversion to its search.
If you type “25 bitcoins to usd” into the search results you’ll get this:
As always, we’ll keep on monitoring Google for significant or interesting changes, and we will report back to you as they come.