As we enter the second decade of the 21st Century
we have noted that it has become an obsession of some websites to optimize
their web pages to rank high (as in the first 10 choices) in search engine
result listings. We, on the other hand, don't give a rats-rump where we fall in the
list of 4,978,436,818 pages for your most recent query.|
That said, we are somewhat bemused at the fact that, without making any effort to "cheat", we appear on the first page of results for a remarkable number of subject queries; we'd like to think that it has to do with the diversity of subject areas that our databases address. Or, maybe it's just that Larry Page has a secret boner for Caskets On Parade?
At the dawn of the modern age of searching and cataloging of web pages, the page's <Title> tag was a key element in the indexing of a page's content. Later, with the addition of the <META> tag as a key indicator of page content, a page's ranking for a given search could rise or fall more appropriately in the list of search results for a related query. Then the <ANCHOR> tag, measuring other pages' links back to you page, become relevant; sort of a vote of confidence in the relevance and lucidity of the page with respect to a given topic area. Always lurking in the background (as the fall-back basis for a page's ranking) were the words and phrases that actually constituted the content of that page — the actual content, not just the quick-hit "headline"-grade contents of a page's <Title> or <META> tags.
The <Title> and <META> tags must be actively employed ... they just don't happen on their own. But the content — that is the more passive element of the page ranking phenomena. It is the content that, when all else fails, says to the search engine's cataloging program 'this page might be useful for the person conducting the search.'
The last element of the ranking valuation, the links back to your page, are again an active process — someone must like your page enough to link back to it on one of their own pages.
The good news/bad news for the Caskets On Parade website is that a lot of people have found the website (content) useful and provided the linkbacks that the search engines so prize. The bad news is that the search engines had found a lot of linkbacks to our web pages. That pushes our pages way up in the rankings for a given topic. Results for a wide variety of subject topics often put a Caskets On Parade page in the top 50 (first 5 pages of) results. So what could be wrong with that?
Well, for starters, there are the people that really hate the idea of dead pool contests — having our website show up in results for Muppet-related searches really P-O's them (Earth to Muppet fans ... the "CASKETS ON PARADE" page title in the search result listing should have been a big red flag that this was not going to be a kiddie «or» office-safe website). Oh, well, at least we're getting a lot of traffic.
Another thing that bemuses us — in several topic areas our web pages will show up in the top 5 search results (although slight variants in case, spelling and pluralization produce wildly-different positions for a given page. The phrase "playboy playmates of the month" will have our Playmates page show up the 6th position; the phrase "playboy playmate of the month" produces a ranking of 21st for the same page; go figure)
You may have noticed that Wikipedia often shows up as the #1 or #2 search results for almost everything you might type into the search word box ... that's because of all of the linkbacks they get. Not because people like their pages as the first (or second) best page on the topic, but because their content can be downloaded and displayed on so many other pages ... that is, as long as they are attributed (under the GNU usage rules). Google is starting to crack down on those (so-called) scraper sites (sites that copy, or "scrape" content from elsewhere).
Since we go out and do our own research (at the library and other original-content locations) we (hopefully) will pass muster with the newer search engine page ranking algorithms and rise further in page rankings in the future. (despite being "unfortunately named")
So, what does all of this mean for you? Not much unless you really don't want to click your way into a website about dead people and the living that may soon follow (while a bunch of snarky ghouls are wagering on their prospects of not making it through the coming year).
Find out how to configure your web browser to explicitly block our website ... that way, our page rankings won't mean anything because any accidental clickthroughs will be blocked.
Or, you may configure your browser to treat us as a 'trusted" website. We hope that you'll do that ... we really hate spyware, malware, tracking nonsense ... we try to be innocuous with respect to your own computer's security (but are pretty rude when it comes to the content of the biographic sketches our databases provide). We write our own (snarky) commentary (no need to import it from elsewhere). We do our own research on the basic factoids of every entry (as in spending hours sometimes trying to find a frickin' year of birth or middle name).
In any event, we hope that the page rankings that the various search sites assign to our pages are an indication of a page's true relevance to your search query, not a come-on to get you to visit a page full of mediocre information that is chock-full of advertising and links to even-more-garbage websites. Being #5 in a search result list that is thousands of items long is pretty darn good, we think. Hope you do too (and find those page's content to your liking).
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