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Whores for Google

Before I begin, I’d like to add a brief disclaimer that I did not make $675 million dollars last year serving ads.

Let’s face it…behind all the hype about Adsense and context driven advertising, Google’s methodology for deciding which ad to serve on your web site seems easy to figure out. In fact, it’s the easy part of the equation — it gets tougher when you try to figure out how much the advertiser has paid for that ad, and how much of that Google put into your account. But that’s a topic for another time.

Basically, the Googlebot supposedly reads the words on your page and decides what the page is about based on how many times certain words appear on the page. You can draw a curtain around the whole thing and throw in lots of smoke and wizard-of-oz-like special effects, but that’s what it boils down to. Yeah, I know…there’s a specific way it looks at the words, like placement on the page, in certain tags (supposedly) and other such stuff.

My friends, no matter how you slice it, the whole thing is a computer program, which makes it logical and predictable. That’s why a lot of people can make money hawking Search Engine Optimization products. If you’ve ever written a computer program, you know that there are easy programs and there are difficult programs. This one probably wins the gold medal for complexity.

But I’m beginning to wonder if maybe there’s a little more to it, and maybe the results aren’t as predictable as one thinks.

For example, below is a screenshot from www.lilacpixels.com, the website of a nice lady named Calista that creates custom WordPress themes.

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As you can see, she explains at the top of the sidebar that her schedule is changing because she is pregnant. Google (apparently) believes that her site is now a pregnancy site, and serves up ads based on that. A quick scan with a keyword utility finds that she mentions the word pregnant only once, and baby only once.

As far as keywords go, she definitely needs some optimization, but you go through 90 plus keywords before you get to any baby-related word (in this case the word nap). And while the bot is -uh- botting, it needs to bot through plenty of words that actually describe the website and appear more often, including, oddly enough, the word Google, which appears 12 times.

So I was wondering…does Google think that even though I am at a site for WordPress templates that maybe I am interested in having a baby? It’s possible that I’ve done searches on Google (maybe even through my toolbar where Google actually supposedly tracks me) when I was researching a site. Maybe Calista’s words aren’t clear enough for Google to decide what her site is about, even though she uses the word WordPress 12 times and template(s) 9 times.

Just for the heck of it, I used a super secret tool that isn’t out yet to find that about 1000 people searched Google for the word blogger (the highest paying WordPress-related keyword) yesterday, and while the top bid is $36.17, the second bid is .30, which means that Google isn’t exactly raking it in on that keyword.

On the other hand, the keyword pregnant was searched 1500 times yesterday, and while the top bid is only $1.87, the second spot costs .83, meaning that Google makes about triple the money on the pregnancy ad.

So just maybe Google used my Google cookie (I have 7 of them on my computer) to ascertain that even though I was looking for a WordPress template (which I was), it would be more profitable to serve me up a pregnancy ad.

This, of course, violates their own Terms of Service. In other words, you can’t change the keywords for the ads that appear on your site.

So, regardless of how much we toil to get our web sites together, if we are unfortunate or unlucky enough to be passionate about something for which Google can’t make a lot of money, are we all just billboards for Google’s annoying our visitors like a popunder ad?

Are we just whores for Google?

Tomorrow: The Plot Thickens.

One Response to “Whores for Google”

  1. Mr WordPress Says:

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