I’m sure you’ve seen them. More and more these days when you search for information – real information, the answer to a problem, for instance – on the web, you come across scores of sites chock-a-block full of content, but with no real inherent value.
They’re usually tagged with innocuous, ambivalent sounding names like http://www.snappy-answers42.com, have somewhat decent navigation, and no end of links to what seem like good answers to your question.
The problem, however, is that the only thing they have in common with the question you’re answering is the keywords in your search query.
As an example, I find most of my technical answers on Deja News *, but when I find weird processes running in my Windows task manager, I frequently just type the application’s name in Google to find out what it does and whether I should remove it.
That worked pretty well, up until about a year ago. Suddenly, out of the blue, the first page or so of links that came up mentioned the application’s name a dozen or more times in the page, but never actually said what the application DOES, or whether it’s harmful.
Like I said, reams of information containing my question, but very few pages with the answer.
I wish I had bookmarked one of the more informative sites I used to find. The neat thing about the Internet is that I didn’t really need to know where I found the answer, before. I just needed to look for it, and it would be there.
It seems that savvy SEO consultants and Content Management gurus have made it more difficult to find real information anymore. They discovered some time ago that if you hire 10 people to write 1000 articles with your site’s most popular keywords, link to your site through them, then get people to visit them, they’ll increase your site’s search engine ranking. Probably not their fault since they are just adapting to indexing algorithms used by the biggest search engines, who are in turn adapting to the hacks and tweaks web developers used to make to cheat their way into number one search engine listings.
Dunno where it’s gonna go from here…Wikipedia, Deja, CNET, Del.icio.us and a few other sites are still great for the niches they serve. As for finding anything relevant through pure searches, I’m left with this weird “empty feeling” in my head…
* Google Groups, but I still remember Deja, so I still call it that, and the URL still works =]