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Blog Posted in avatar   Barry G Wood's Blog

Why it is getting more difficult to find what you want online

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By Barry G Wood
Posted Jul 27, 2012 in Technology
It used to be that you would be amazed by the things you can find on the internet - these days you are more likely to be amazed by the things you cannot find on the internet.
The golden age of search, when you could actually find when you were looking for, is gone. These days your eyeballs are increasingly likely to be exhausted by the constant battle of wading through page after page of badly-disguised sales pages masquerading as impartial contant.
The cuprits are content farmers, online directories, aggregators, affiliate sites and search engine optimization bandits.
They are all working flat out to game Google's algorithm and ensure that what reaches the top of your searches is what they want you to see rather than what you want to find.
Take three typical searches. Music supervisor Nicola Fulford was trying to find the Which review for an iphone. She found herself scrolling through sales page after sales page passing themselves off as impartial product reviews.
"I had no idea what could be relied on and what could not be. Eventually I found the Which website, but what a palaver."
Software engineer Bill Horn found himself in the same position when he was looking for a job. He knew the best thing to do is to approach companies direct but how do you do that when all the "software engineer vacancy" searches are intercepted by recruitment companies SEO'd to the max. "In the end I just used a business directory in the local library."
It is the same with medical queries. More often than not, a search for impartial medical advice will land you on a false-flag site with dodgy advice and a hidden sales agenda.
Travel inquiries have also become difficult. Unless you know a hotel's exact website address you can get bogged down in on line travel directory hell.
Maybe the problem is us for having it too easy. Google raised our expectations so far we forgot that good information was hard to find and for most of human history, took time, sweat and money.
Search engines like Google were such a huge step forward that we forgot it had been otherwise. We were spoiled.
We forgot that what had been created was the biggest adspace playground in the world and that the sales and marketing industry would do what it was there to do - exploit an opportunity to make as much money as possible.
Why criticise the sales and marketing industries for doing their jobs so well.
Here are the main search problems:
Scraped content - this is the term for the disreputable practice some webmasters have of padding their sites or sales pages with content rfromipped from reputable sites. As any webmaster will tell you, there are few things more annoying than putting a lot of effort into original content articles or blog posts only for your material to end up on bunch of SPAM sites within days or even minutes.
Effectively this is theft. For not only is someone using your content without permission, they are monetizing it, outranking you in the search engine page rankings and stealing your audience. This problem is closely associated with: -
Thin affiliate sites - This problem usually comes in tandem with the one listed above. While affiliate marketing is perfectly legitimate business model some take unacceptable short cuts and pack their sites with material skimmed from other sources.
Doorway or gateway pages: these are pages created just for "spamming" search engines by inserting results for particular phrases with the purpose of intercepting visitors and redirecting them to a different page.
And then there is auto-generated content: This is content generated by a programme which will consist of random paragraphs of text that make no sense to the reader but that may contain search keywords.
So how does one navigate through this screaming babel?
There are number of solutions. First improve your own search skills. Most only search using the most basic search parameters but time spent improving your own search skills will pay off.
Another tip is to use other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo.
But the most straightforward solution to at least some search issues is back to basics - shoe leather. Says one IT professional "I go to bookshops and the library. It is the only to get verifiable information and the actual real web addresses of the hotels I use when abroad."

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