Are we losing nuance in organic search?

by Jim September 3, 2019

I had a fantastic chat this week with Dixon Jones at Majestic where we discussed entity search and why there is a bias in Google’s knowledge graph. While this is fantastic for those trying to sell people things, it doesn’t bode well for those seeking answers to research.

What I learned

  • What is entity search?
  • Why fringe knowledge will be erased
  • Popularity is great for selling
  • If you’re looking for answers, Google may not be the best place


Hey, welcome back, Rankers. I`m having an awesome week. I spoke to Dixon Jones last week of, the global brand ambassador, many of you know him, he does lots of other things as well, but we had some great conversations. We`ll be bringing those out in a couple of podcasts soon. But we were discussing entities and Dixon wrote a paper during the week about entity search and how there is an inherent bias in the Google knowledge base. I`m sorry, the Google knowledge graph, given why it`s been created. Now for those of you who don`t want to go into the whole thing about learning about entity search, think of it this way. Think of it that Google is using emojis to represent things. So for instance, an upside down smile with a tear, that`s upset, right? We know that with an emoji. Entity search is a bit like that.

What is entity search?

So for instance, the example that Dixon uses in the podcast is Sydney. Sydney is made up of several different things. What represents Sydney? Well, the Sydney Opera House, going to the beach, mainly blah, blah, blah, Sydney harbour bridge. So they don`t need all this extra information. So what is happening, and I`ll show you examples of where that starts to destroy nuance. It starts to eliminate the fringe. It starts to eliminate the interesting things. And we saw this with the Australian payphone, a search example, but there are lots of others. And we`ve talked about seeing it come in for a consensus as a metric in science, which is just crazy. And what is consensus? Consensus is popularity. And we`ve talked about popularity before, but the problem with this, it`s mainstream. So it works really, really well, if you`re trying to sell stuff or buy stuff like paid ads. But if you`re trying to research, it`s not as good.

I`m finding it`s not as good as it used to be. And I`d be interested in your thoughts. And what concerns me about where we`re heading with search is that we will destroy the nuance. So for instance, I made this, this morning in my kitchen from a search that I did on the Internet. Now, this is a material that was first used in the 70s or the 60s, pretty simple to make in your kitchen. There are lots of people making it online. I`m not going to tell you what it is because I don`t want you to be responsible for any accidents that you may have. But thank you.

Anyway, you`re going to look for it, just to trip. Now the problem is that these sorts of things won`t be available or surfacing in search because there`s no consensus. So what is this stuff? Well, it`s meant to be this amazing fireproofing material that you can make in your kitchen at home and it`s cheap, nontoxic, organic. And you go, `Oh yeah, really? How do you know?` Well, you can simply get a blowtorch like this and just blow on. Now if you think I`m going to light up a blow torch with all this expensive studio equipment around, of course I am, right. So let`s get that. Yup. Huh? There we go. This is what Google is doing to search, organic search.

Sales, not search

All right, now this stuff is pretty cool, huh? Well, it`s actually pretty hot, but it`s also pretty cool on the other side. So I could go on with this all day, and I made it in my kitchen and I found it in search. Now you might say, `Well Jim, that kind of looks dangerous.` As he tries to turn the blowtorch off with one hand. Oh, we`ve got to get it. Hey, hey, hey. Okay. Don`t panic, it`s fine. So this is like just one example of things. Oh here you go, shows you what`s on the back. So I`ll show you there too. So the other, this wouldn`t be found right? The way we`re heading now with search because we`re losing the things that are on the fringe. I did a survey during the week, I think I told everyone about it. The Tesla, Nikola Tesla. Where did you first hear about Nikola Tesla?

Most people that I ask say, `Not at school, in Australia anyway.` They learned it after they left school from a weird conspiracy theorist mate. Usually myself. But we will lose these things. Now in case you don`t know who Nikola Tesla is, he invented the 20th century. Lots of people have heard about Thomas Edison. But nobody that I knew of, growing up, had heard about Nikola Tesla. So I found out about him through a couple of weird friends and the Internet. I went and searched for it, found it on Like Us, when the web first came along.

So this move to this entity search and Google uses an example where the way he puts that, it looks like, you know, Google is taking all this information and reducing it to basically 1/3400 I think you said, which is a reduction of about 99.997%. But look it works really, really well for a lot of things. The things that are current, for things that people are trying to buy, but I`m finding when I want to research or find something a little bit more obscure, it`s not happening. Hopefully, that`s helpful. Don`t go searching for this if you`re going to burn yourself, and I`m not going to tell you what it is so you can`t blame me if you do. See you next week, thank you very much. Bye.

This reminds me of most retailer sites we work with. See what I did there?

Unfortunately, we can`t work with them all, but seriously, the problems we see with retailers that are just burning money. So we ended up working with the ones we enjoy working with. Maybe that`s you. If you think you`d enjoy working with us, email us, [email protected] Don`t forget to share, subscribe, and thanks for watching. Bye.

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