The following article was originally posted on my blog. During the next few weeks I will be migrating the my best blog writing on tech to this site. Enjoy. — originally posted on April 10, 2012
Key Words are DEAD. That is what I said, “dead.” Maybe if we had adopted the good old LC Subject Headings (see example) as necessary tags for web content this whole mess could have been avoided, but online keyword searching has come to replace more nuanced search that was once done in libraries.
So online searching switched from indexing of links, that initially were intended to reflect the quality of your network of links, to keywords used in your content, not just meta-tags and descriptions, but the actual content of the information that is contained within the pages and posts of your site or blog. Soon after though, keywords in content came to be exploited by “content farmers.” Writers have always worked in stables and been treated like livestock (moo…) but… this new type of farmer had no connection to any acquaintance with past intelligent husbandry principles, and these guys worked purely through commercial farming that produced tasteless, low nutrition content that may have been prettily packaged, but was impossible to serve as part of a nutritious informational meal.
Content farms paid outrageously low prices for articles, but with an increasing global market and new ways to taps low wage seekers these farms found “contractors” who were willing to work for less than what it cost to create the formulaic keyword salted content they sold.
Search engines no longer heavily weight their site rankings on links or keywords, or even comments for that matter, according to my SEO guru sources. As far as I can tell Google began talking about the changes they were making to search algorithms that are referred to collectively as Panda in early in 2011. There have been several releases. So, don’t believe anything you are told about SEO for the moment if keywords are mentioned. What I have been told that you want to do is become familiar with the concept of the semantic web. But I’m not so sure that is true, either. I think it is more like a semiotic web. But that is linguistic tech talk that is better left for another article.
There is nothing wrong with informing yourself about where others say we are heading, but we humans are awful about actually getting where we say we want to go. The concept of a semantic web has been around for a while; the semantic web, is in many ways the holy grail of the internet. Panda will not lead to the semantic web. These new search algorithms employed by Google will not create meaning from data. Understanding of users will not miraculously appear from this iteration of search capabilities that primarily gets back to the original intent almost two decades ago of using links to determine the authority of the network in which the content generator exists.
Context, peer review as it were, must be taken into account in a way that cannot be gamed by marketers, hucksters, nor even cult leaders with delusions of grandeur. That is what Panda seems to be trying to do. Panda is an iteration, a refining recursion, of using both the network of those who access data and the network of the content creator to determine the context and networks in which the content exists while also taking the quality of the information contained in the specific piece of web data into account.
Those are the basics of what is happening. No, I don’t know how Google does this, but this seems to be what they say they are doing.
Now on to why I think women are uniquely positioned to take advantage of core data within the new and improved web, what web gurus call the semantic web, as reflected through a more nuanced and context sensitive search methodology.
Women understand context and know how to balance competing priorities. Women understand that comments are actually conversations. Women also know when someone is trying to hose them. Women create the daily stories that accumulate to become our culture. The semantic web is attempting to recreate the way we humans understand things. Women are experts at this.
For at least the last several thousand years women have raised up new generations of humanity to prioritize sustenance, dangers, and recreation. A critical mass of women are now using the web to organize and orchestrate their daily lives. Women have been creating blogs, networks, and bazaars and markets via the web for the last decade in a way that used to be done via the telephone or in person at a community gathering point such as a church, or market. Daily life has come to the internet. Who better to create and utilize daily life through the web than the women who have always tended to daily life, through the nuanced interplay of education, shopping, cooking, cleaning, budgeting, care-giving, record keeping, clothing, shelter, family and community communication.
Our culture, even a simple index of the web is far more complex than what SEO businesses can manipulate. Women have been the indexers and organizers of human life for, literally, ages. Google is just attempting to mimic the natural process of organizing and accessing information about what we do, what we want, based on a more natural model that takes social relationships and context into account. Real attempts at tapping the structure of the semantic web are probably integral steps in the creation of it. It is all very heady stuff and we are not yet up to the task knowing what we are doing.
But… women have already changed the web with mommy blogs, social networks, e-commerce, and Pinterest. We are uniquely positioned to consciously take advantage of creating content for the web and providing gateways to it because we have already been doing something like that since before the dawn of civilization.
Of course savvy men can also do the very same thing, and if they do take process building into account as well as product manufacture, they could also be successful.
Get your nuance on women! Escalate your quality content creation, create what you know and do it well, it is what Google is looking for. We are the change we have been waiting for.