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The Problem With Google

By: Andrew Nielsen
The Online Business Builder
Published: November 27 2006

If you do a search on Google for "shop for ping pong balls" it is probably because you are looking for the best offers for ping pong balls available on the Internet. Google is however more likely to show you results with websites which are optimized for the keywords in your search, rather than the websites with the best offers. In this article we explore why this is so, and what search engine optimization means for the Internet and companies wanting to make money online.

Search engines assign a rank to webpages in order to assign different importance to the different pages. The general idea is that the higher the rank of a page is, the higher it will be displayed in search results. Slightly simplified, the more inbound links a page has, the higher a rank search engines will assign to the page. A link from a page with a high rank is assigned a higher importance than a link from a page with a lower rank. Other factors are considered too of course - a link from a page about ping pong balls appears to be considered more important to a ping pong ball website than a link from a page about some unrelated topic. And another very important aspect is that the content of a page is matched with the keywords used for the search.

The idea behind assigning of such a rank is that a page is considered to vote for another page by linking to it. This generally makes good sense as I - and other website administrators - are likely to link to a page which has information that I find good and useful.

The problem with it is that I - as a website administrator - will do my best to get as many good inbound links to my site as I can in order to develop my online business. As few other websites link to my website by themselves - despite my wonderful product - I engage in link building and search engine optimization. By this, I mean that I try to get inbound in a number of ways. I post messages on forums about earning money on the Internet, get listed in dodgy directories and write articles which are posted on numerous websites. I am not the only website administrator who works this way. And unfortunately, not everyone produces content of as high quality as myself. On the website where you're reading this article, by far the most information was produced simply to let website administrators get inbound links from content with the keywords they target. This is also why you find terms like "making money online" throughout this article. The quality of an article needs to just be good enough to be accepted on the site and the author has achieved what he or she wants.

So there we have it. Because of the way search engines assign rank, the Internet is filled with information of dubious quality. You may even think of all this information - including this very article (which - strictly speaking - isn't about making money on the Internet) - as a kind of spam. As long as the search engines continue to assign rank the way they do now, the internet will be filled with more and more of such junk. I know for sure, that I'll continue to write articles - however remotely related to making money online - just to get inbound links.

So is there are better way?

Well, we're still waiting for the next generation of search engines to come along. This is likely to be based on a different philosophy which is already used elsewhere: rating and voting. On a website like youtube, users rate the content they view, and the number of votes and average vote can be seen by other users. This is exactly the type of information that would be useful for you, the purchaser of ping pong balls. You'll want the website with the highest rank - assigned by other customers - to ensure that you get the best quality of ping pong balls at the best price. This surely would be much more useful to you, than the websites who managed to get the most inbound links to their websites.

Until such a search engine is developed (making the creators a lot of money) I will have to rely on articles like the one you are reading now. Having the best product in my category is currently not what it takes to make it online.

About the author:

Andrew Nielsen is the author of The Online Business Builder - a bestselling and popular eBook about teaching readers how to make money online.


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