Thursday, March 23, 2006

Looking for the next best thing

Google screenshot
Why am I first?

This post is the latest in an irregular, navel-gazing series on searches that brought visitors here. Also, I predict the next wave in spam sites.

1. bush appoints chief justice

Google coughs up more than twelve million pages on this query, and my satirical blog post is number one. "Bush Appoints His Mountain Bike as Next Chief Justice" sits ahead of pages from unimportant sites like,,, and I don't understand. I did do a few things Google likes:
  • I've written on the subject before (when I suggested someone Bush was even unlikelier to appoint);
  • the post has the search words in the right order;
  • even better, the search terms are in both the page's title and url;
  • and there are links to authoritative sources (like Slate, several newspapers, and, especially, Wikipedia).
But the post also has something Google dislikes: there are no external links to it. Zero. Once upon a time, I complained that Google hated me. But this is a little more Google-love than I'm comfortable with, at least for this search. I suspect they're playing with their ranking algorithm, and things will soon return to normal.

2. what does riding shotgun mean
Second out of 1,300,000. The post title is "Riding shotgun", and the post's body has the word "mean", so the post's words are in the same order as the search.

3. ANWR map
4. chicago crime map
My top search referrers. The search term is in the post title, and there are links from other sites. Yes, I am a map geek.

6. beedogs
Sixth out of 24,000. Post title, and Wikipedia link.

7. grandiose behavior
Why third out of 583,000? Because I am such a good example of it! I am the bestest example of it EVAR! (Well, third bestest.) "Grandiose behavior" isn't in the title of my post, but is at the start of a list. Also, there's a Wikipedia link.

8. hermione elf liberty
First out of 22,000. The search words appear in tables. And there's a W-pedia link.

9. anders celsius college education
First of 24,000. Yeah, there's a Whiskeypedia link. But the keywords are in two different posts. The posts are consecutive, but Google may need to improve its recognition of implied delimiters, since horizontal lines, <div> tags , and dates are often used to separate fields and records (but not always, because that would be too convenient). A good implied record separator for blogs is a link to a page on the same host containing all the text immediately preceding (or following, depending on layout).

10. gold smelter design
Fortieth out of 256,000. I mentioned a gold smelter in one post, and two weeks earlier I had blogged on intelligent design. Another separator problem. If I'd stuck in a Wikipedia link, it would have been fourth instead of fortieth, I betcha.

11. Famous incidents of book burning
Second out of 7.1 million. I haven't written on this topic, but I write about books a lot, and I've mentioned book-burning in passing. This looks like Google teasing out meaning that isn't quite there.

12. sucka dj's who think they're fly!
Fourth of 26,000. I'm glad to rank so highly on such a crucial issue.

13. tom delay mugshot
Twelfth of 146,000. Another case where Google likes post titles — alt text, too. Tom DeLay is not my favorite mugshot, though. Cops suspected this guy of huffing spraypaint. What do you think gave him away?

Not a lot of suspense here. The next wave in spam sites is gratuitous Wikipedia links. As spamdexers and splogs grow more evil, their links will become ever more useless. We just have to come up with a name for their tactic. Wikipedophelia? What do you think?


Anonymous Doug Hoffman said...

Hmm. I'm number one for "Fred flintstone and betty rubble in a sixty-nine". I'll bet that visitor was very disappointed.

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Doug Hoffman said...

Hey, Scott, did you get fed up with blogging? Hope you're okay, man.

3:21 PM  

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