Thursday, June 09, 2005

Searches on Google yielding erratic results?

On a search that had yielded approximately 530 hits for about a month, the search shot up to 866 on May 5, 2005, although there were no actual changes in what was available on the internet.

It was 790 on June 7 at 8am but down to 546 on June 7 at 7:52pm but up to 783 at 11:15pm.

On June 9 at 8am it was 855, but 547 at 2:40pm, and up to 784 at 10pm.

At the moment, it appears that one's search results on Google depend on "what time of day" the search is done.

This issue is distinct from that mentioned by Stephanie Rosenbloom in Loosing Google's Lock on the Past:

Last year Mr. Dash participated in a challenge in which competitors
attempted to get their Web site to be the first Google result for the
made-up phrase ''Nigritude Ultramarine.'' Mr. Dash won the second round by
posting a request on his popular blog asking readers to link from their own sites
to his using the phrase.

An attempt to influence the rank of a site returned by a Google
search is known as Google Washing or Google Bombing. Referring to the process as ''gaming Google,'' Mr. Palfrey explained that Google's dominance as a search
engine was largely due to a technology called PageRank, which he called the
company's ''special sauce.''

''The idea is that they have deduced, based on an algorithm, which
are the most authoritative sources,'' Mr. Palfrey said. ''They give each page a
rank from zero to 10. The higher your PageRank, the more your site comes

As Google explains further on its site, ''Votes cast by pages that
are themselves 'important' weigh more heavily and help to make other pages

For example, Google had a PageRank of 10 in a recent check; had a zero.

''The trick,'' Mr. Palfrey said, ''is if you can get lots of people
that have a great PageRank to link to you, you're going to be driven up very

THEREFORE, the secret to burying unflattering Web details about
yourself is to create a preferred version of the facts on a home page or a blog of
your own, then devise a strategy to get high-ranking Web sites to link to you.
Many people assume that a Google ranking has something to do with Web traffic, but that is incorrect, as is the notion that the more links a site has, the higher
its PageRank.

A PageRank can be high even if a Web site is linked to only once,
Ms. Mayer of Google said, provided that the one link is itself a highly ranked
page. Colleges, universities and government Web sites usually have high
PageRanks because Google considers them authoritative, which explains why the Web
site of my alma mater with the unflattering photo trumps numerous other links.

I have never had the urge to blog. But in the interest of research,
I recently created two bare-bones blogs and a Web site to see what effect
they would have on a search of my name.

I created the blogs through two services, Blogger and TypePad,
which offer step-by-step instructions. It took me less than 10 minutes (though I
have not yet added any personal musings).

Domain names for a personal Web site can be purchased from a
variety of sources. I chose Yahoo, although I still need a Web hosting package to
house multiple links and graphics.

Right now neither my Web site nor my blogs appear on a Google
search of my name; the company says these take time to get ranked. So not only do I
have an unflattering photo floating around the Net, but on a scale of zero to
10, I am a zero.

It turns out that Google's crawler -- the software that roams the
Web and ceaselessly indexes its contents -- has yet to discover my sites. Ms.
Mayer said I could speed things up by visiting the Submitting Your Site link on
Google and entering an Internet address. A crawler, like a door-to-door salesman,
would visit my site within two to three weeks. In the meantime, I was
encouraged to link to other sites and have them link back to me.

Creating content has taken up so much of my time that I no longer
have time to worry about that old photograph. It was another time and another
place, and when I look at that photo, I think back on that life -- and it was
first rate.

I have learned that the upside to being a Google-ee is that one
becomes a more sensitive Googler. I now feel guilty about the time I exchanged
numbers with a tall, wavy-haired stranger but did not return his calls after a
Google search revealed he had a penchant for competitive eating. From here on
out, I will live by a new creed: Google unto others as you would have them
Google unto you.


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