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Chuck Martin wondered: <<Google uses a proprietary algorithm that they
are regularly tweaking to rank (unpaid) search results. Unlike other
search engines, theirs pretty much stopped using metatag keywords
because that method was abused.>>
The Internet is a classic case of "the tragedy of the commons": there's
always someone out there who goes out of their way to ruin things for
everyone else, including (eventually) themself.
<<A significant part of their formula takes into account the number of
pages elsewhere that link to your site, but that is becoming abused as
See above. This has actually become a sport called "Google jamming", in
which you get a bunch of buddies together to create a massive web of
interlinked pages pointing to one site; as a result, the Google results
for that site are artificially inflated. For a good laugh, type
"weapons of mass destruction" into the Google search field and click
the "I'm feeling lucky" button. Read carefully. <g>
<<Here's my question: if someone's looking for a technical writer, will
they do a Google search or will they search on one of the many job
Which someone are we talking about? <g> I don't think there's any one
way you can expect someone to find you. Those without much imagination
will do a general Google search for "technical writer" or will hit the
job boards seeking resumes. Those with considerably more imagination
will try other things, such as looking for published articles*,
searching specific sites like Raycomm or how.com to find people writing
about certain things.
* I get a few inquiries per week about stuff I've written in my various
articles for STC and Raycomm. A couple of these are actually likely to
turn into jobs giving workshops (on onscreen editing thus far) now that
I'm freelancing and have time for such things.
I still think that the best jobs are those you find yourself. Don't
base your strategy on waiting for people to come to you; that only
works for spiders, and given the number of dead ones that I have to
sweep away every summer, it doesn't work so well for them either.
Instead, decide what kind of work you want to do, and go looking for
people who are doing it. In a former life, I kept a resume file of
unsolicited queries, and anyone who made it into that file was at the
top of my list of people to contact before I tried other ways to find a
contractor. Worth thinking about!
Currently, I've gotten about 2/3 of my work by networking and kharma. I
know a lot of people, and a lot of people know me and the quality of my
work. I'm very free with my time and always willing to help out others,
and this has repaid itself tenfold in referrals.
<<I've never received a lead from my site, but I have from resume
Not too surprising. Given the vast number of sites that are out there,
and how quickly even the best search engines are falling behind on the
immense task of indexing these sites, you may not even have been
indexed yet. (I assume from what you've written later in your note that
you've submitted your site to the various search engines. For those who
haven't and who are wondering where all the visitors are, it's worth
noting here that you probably won't be indexed at all, other than by a
chance link from some other site, if you don't register your site with
(submit it to) the main search engines.)
Moreover, you're facing a very difficult challenge: If you choose the
logical words to describe what you do, then you're competing with
everyone else who uses the same words--and there are many of us
techwhirlers out there. On the other hand, if you choose unusual or
unique words, you'll stand out from the crowd--but nobody will ever
find you because they won't think to use those words. I'm not sure
there's any good way to beat this problem.
<<Meanwhile, although my site has been up for a number of years, and
some sites even link to it, it's still amazing what pops up when I
Google my name>>
This is another Internet sport called "ego surfing". It's a lot of fun,
isn't it? (Apparently there are more of me out there than I thought,
and all of us are somewhat <ahem> verbose. Must be something in the
If you're interested in learning more about the state of the art in
search engines, have a look at <http://searchenginewatch.com/>, or do a
search for Tara Calishain, author of "Google Hacks". Cool stuff.
--Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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