December 22nd, 2002, 07:21 PM
Article about our loved Google...
Here's a really good article about our loved "Google"...
On the Web, forget the A-list: It's the 'G' list that matters
By Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY
New York photographer Gilbert King created a site to exhibit his work, but he can't get displayed on the most desirable piece of real estate in the Web world: the Google index. "I've spent over a year on this and I'm frustrated," he says. "If you don't get listed on Google, it's almost as if you don't exist." (Related story: It helps (sometimes) to slip 'em a few bucks)
As 2002 comes to a close, the search service Google has become so predominant on the Web, and the importance of being listed there so vital to many, even the phrase "to Google" something or someone — that is, to search the Web for that thing or person — is now considered a verb.
Singles "Google" prospective blind dates. Headhunters Google potential candidates. Lawyers Google court opponents. And freelance vendors such as King hope to use the power of Google to show their wares to the world.
The once-small Silicon Valley start-up's distribution of Web information is so pervasive that the industry-tracking Search Engine Watch estimates Google now represents two-thirds of all searches. "We live in a Google-obsessed universe," says Search Engine Watch editor Danny Sullivan. "So many people use it, they've become synonymous with 'search.' "
But just how to get listed on Google is a mystery.
Unlike its major competitors, which offer ways to buy your way onto their editorial indexes (which King nixed: "I and everyone else I know uses Google, I'm not going to waste my money"), Google says its technology should be able to locate you naturally. Its bank of about 10,000 computers "crawl" across the Internet continually, updating a listing of about 3 billion Web pages. Essentially, it finds your page if other pages link to yours, the assumption being that the more pages that point to your Web site, the more popular or reliable your site should be.
For the ordinary Joe, there isn't much advice on the Google site about how else to get listed beyond the "submit a site" section under the help index. Hopefuls can type in their Web address and cross their fingers.
Those requests don't go to a person, but rather a computer that inserts the suggested address into a long list that may or not be checked, depending on a set of private criteria that Google uses. "Fundamentally, (you) hope the site gets crawled," says Google co-founder Sergey Brin. "If you get other sites to link to you, you're generally set. Other than that, there's not a lot you can do."
Actually, there is, and it does involve money. Google won't stick you in the editorial listings, but for a fee Google's AdWords will sell you a sponsored listing that goes to the right of the other entries. Basically, what you're buying are listings that will pop up in response to certain searched words, at a computer-generated per-click rate.
So, for instance, if a "writer" wanted to advertise, the rate cited would have been $5 for every time a surfer clicks on the link. Changing the wording to "newspaper reporter" drops the rate to 21 cents a click; "technology reporter," 19 cents. Best of all, "Jefferson Graham" costs only a nickel.
Ray Allen, who sells wildflower seeds from Miami at americanmeadows.com, started buying Google AdWords in response to a low ranking on the index. "I'm not averse to paying 62 cents a click for an average order of $65," he says. "This is so much better than banner advertising. There's a relevancy of being there when someone is looking for what you sell."
Google says you can determine a budget cap of, say, $5 or $10 a day, so that there are no horrible surprises on your credit card bill at the end of the month.
Michael Shaw of Santa Monica, Calif., is listed on Google for his non-profit Bagnews Web site of political cartoons, but if you search for "political cartoons," you'll have to go through many, many pages before you find him. So the psychologist, who puts his comics on the Web as a hobby, spends two to three hours weekly searching for links. Some 60 political sites now point to Bagnews, "and if I could get more, it could really make an impact for my ranking," he says.
Getting on Google in 2002 takes on bigger meaning when you consider that the company doesn't just point to you at its Google.com site. The Mountain View, Calif., company also provides search services for America Online, Yahoo, Netscape, Earthlink and, as of Monday, HotBot. So if you can get on Google, you're all over the Web.
Sullivan says that when Yahoo first became popular, like Google, people obsessed about getting listed. "To deal with all the requests, they came up with a solution, a paid program. For $299, you submit a site to Yahoo and get an answer within seven business days. Google needs to have some sort of program like that to deal with the public."
Brin disagrees. "If we had thousands of people sitting on the phone and answering e-mail questions from Webmasters, that wouldn't improve the overall Google experience," he says. "We'd rather work on improving the technology to get more useful information to people."
Google performs 150 million searches a day. For '03, Brin hopes to expand to catalog the Web's entire 10 billion pages. "I don't know if it will happen, but we hope to have the whole Web crawled."