Monthly Archives: November 2007

Bad Ugly Man

The class was talking about how the search engines or Google AdSense may key in on phrases you did not think they would. One of the students spoke up and asked if he could tell a story about that. I said, “of course!”. This was his story:

He had put a web page up, which addressed a technical topic. It had a photo of himself on the page. He watched his traffic, and soon found that he was getting a lot of traffic from Google Images, for the term, “bad ugly man”. He then discovered that if he searched on that term, his picture was the top item returned.

Turns out, his technical topic was “(subject), The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”. Google paired it up with his photo in an unexpected way! A simple disallow tag for his images folder in his robots.txt file solved the problem, but his illustration was priceless.

AdSense and search engines both do sometimes pull out keywords that you do not expect. This can be a good thing in many instances, because it means that you do not have to worry about overanalyzing keywords or calculating keyword density to mine the long tail of search terms. Rather, you just write well, be descriptive in what you say, and the natural result is usually very good.

Once in a while though, you have to tweak a page. A page on Christian Infertility called “Leah After Judah” pulls all sorts of ads about Judaism and Judaic symbols. It isn’t at all what the page is about. So tweaking had to be done to eliminate or selectively target the right phrases on the pages.

When creating a product catalog, take advantage of the search engine’s propensity to catalog everything – write visual and evocative descriptions. You’ll benefit two ways: You’ll help people want the item more if they read the description, and you’ll just naturally include another series of relevant keywords that will get picked up and used in a way that may surprise you.

The descriptions need not be long, or complicated. Just imagine you are describing the item to someone who cannot see it, and who may not know what it is for. Include colors, features, and some phrases to get them thinking about how to use it, or how they’ll feel when they use it. For example:

“Soft and snuggly throw rug. Cuddle up by the fire and enjoy a winter evening with someone you love. Forest green and black colors give this blanket a woodsy feel. Cotton polyester blend is itch-free, soft, and easy to care for.”

Nothing remarkable about that description. It gives an emotional setting, an accurate description, and some adjectives. It will increase the appeal of the item to both search engines and people.

Of course, if you find that you come out on top for searches on the term “itchy blanket”, you’d want to change something. Otherwise, you can probably sit back and watch something unexpected and good happen, just because you took the time to write something natural, and thoughtful.

Update: This page is now pulling search engine results for the term “ugly man”!

Grow a Garden!

Gardening doesn't have to be that hard! No matter where you live, no matter how difficult your circumstances, you CAN grow a successful garden.

Life from the Garden: Grow Your Own Food Anywhere Practical and low cost options for container gardening, sprouting, small yards, edible landscaping, winter gardening, shady yards, and help for people who are getting started too late. Plenty of tips to simplify, save on work and expense.