Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Search Engines for Dummies

Howard Kurtz actually wrote this shit:

That's right, what if people are actually gorging on the silly and salacious stuff that they tell pollsters they don't want in their media diet?

But how could we know if that was the case? Hmmm. Let me think!

Aha! How about their online searches? The purest expression of their inner id, their secret curiosity, their lust for certain knowledge?
I didn't come up with this idea but was struck by what Slate dug up in examining the online behavior of the masses. And let me just say, they're not looking for details on eligibility for S-CHIP:

" Wives matter: People want to get to know Elizabeth Kucinich. When you type 'dennis kucinich' into Google Suggest, you learn that more people are searching for 'dennis kucinich wife' than 'dennis kucinich for president.' What do they want to know about her? According to the suggestion results for her name, people are looking for 'pictures,' 'photos,' 'age,' 'hot,' and 'tongue.' (It's pierced.) The Republican field has a woman of choice, too: Three of the top 10 search queries after 'fred thompson' are wife-related. The query 'joe biden wife,' however, doesn't appear until the candidate's 10th result. Ouch.["]

This argument is patently dishonest.

If you go to Google Suggest and type in "dennis kucinic," you see that there are 1.98 million results for "Dennis Kucinich," 1.67 million for "Dennis Kucinich for President," 1.53 million for "Dennis Kucinich 2008" and .486 million for "Dennis Kucinich wife."

You also learn that Google Suggest doesn't tell you how many people are searching for any of those phrases.

If you then pull your head out of your ass, and go to Google Trends, you find that a considerably larger number of searches are performed for "Dennis Kucinich" than for "Dennis Kucinich wife." And, of course, you realize that most intelligent people searching for information on Kucinich's presidential run will simply type in Kucinich's name, rationally assuming that Dennis Kuchinch for President website will be the first hit.

This is what you get if you compare "Dennis Kucinch for President" to "Dennis Kucinich wife."

Yes, there are plenty of people who enjoy trivia, and would do so even if hacks like Howie didn't wallow in it for fun and profit. But there's no need to resort to dishonest search engine games to make the point.

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