Google Blogoscoped

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

The Church of Google

Did you ever experience the calming effect of entering "Google" in Google and pressing "I'm Feeling Lucky"? For zero-sum Zen illuminations of others, read on about the Google Religion.

Google anthropomorphized ...

"Google doesn't give a left-hand, flying farkle about how pretty your page looks in Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Safari, or any other browser."
– Vincent Flanders, Google is god

... glorified ...

"To call Google a search engine seems unsatisfying. I like to think of Google as more like my new silicone-based techno/reference religious culture-enhancing multi-purpose home appliance and friend. (...)

Google gets more bits and a pieces of my soul than any living being does. I use it to find information concerning the mundane, the technological, the cultural, and even the spiritual questions that come to my mind each and every day. Google is like the omnipresent techno God of the new millennium."
– Paul N. Dion-Deitch, My Google God

... predicted ...

"What would a perfect search engine look like? we asked [Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google]. "It would be the mind of God. Larry [Page] says it would know exactly what you want and give you back exactly what you need.""
– Jason Pontin, Dinner with the mind behind the mind of God (Red Herring), July 16, 2002

... Google as oracle ...

"[Google Zeitgeist] contains many "clues" to the symbolism of popular culture. While idiotic pundits anoint their "best of the year" selections, what better "oracle" of popular taste than the world's leading search engine?"
– Steven Clift, The Google Oracle, 21 Dec 2001

... as answer ...

"The answers to life's questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust."
– katwoman-ga, Google Answers: The meaning of life (quoting The Meaning of Life Depo), 22 Apr 2002

... and as whack ...

"As such, on this eleventh day of March, in the year of our lord two-thousand and two, I claim as an art object, and moreover as a critical [achievement], Googlewhacking."
– Paul Tulipana, Net Critical Achievement 1: Google and Democracy (, 3.11.2002

... Google fighting religious wars ...

"The Church of Scientology™ - a controversial religious organization accused of being a "Cult of Greed" in a Time Magazine cover story - has a documented history of gaming Google to artificially raise its results in Google.

The weblog community has fought back this abuse, using Google Bombs to raise the ranking of to a #4 rank for the keyword "Scientology"™.

Sometime in the past week, organizations representing the Church issued a complaint to Google. This complaint alleges that is in violation of its copyright under the "Digital Millenium Copyright Act". (...)

In just three-and-a-half years, Google has managed to inspire religious devotion from today's information workers. With over 3 billion documents indexed by its mighty search engine, Google has become the leading repository of the world's knowledge."
– John Hiler, Church v. Google (Microcontent News), March 21, 2002

... entering the holy blogdom ...

"Now that Google has taken a major stake in blogdom, there may be a shift in the balance of power. From what I can see, what irks Dave most is that he was taken by surprise — Google crossed a line. I hope Dave is able to put it aside for a while before over-reacting. It's a bit premature to form an anti-Google crusade. After all, what would be the point? Because Google got became more powerful than Dave wanted them to be?"
– Zak (Joel on Software Comments), 06 Mar 2003

... facing blasphemous voices ...

"Here is how the "Holy Google" has become the most money hungry search engine around."
– Prolo Vanossi, The Holy Google Goes Greedy (, June 15, 2002

... in dreams ...

"And don't you go on about your "Google" dream where information just magically appears, brought to you by 1's and 0's. That's just too stupid to believe."
– Rue DeDay, A Boy Made Out of Bread and the Adventures He Had (Teemings), 8/13/2001

... immortalized ...

"hail the god of google (...)

I'm thinking of renovating the spare room into a shrine for google... prayer rugs all over the place, incense, spots strategically placed... that kind of thing."
– Smatsmax & CodeJockey, Google Update Has Begun (, Aug 20, 2001

... loved ...

"Millions of surfers love Google — it is one of those rare websites that folk get emotional about. The quality of my life has improved immensely since the arrival of the Google search engine, and it is worthy of much praise."

... (and hated) ...

"How could anyone hate Google? For many people, it has become their "other" brain."
– Mike, The Man Who Hates Google (, August 29th, 2002

"There is no love hate [relationship] in my opinion.
People with bad rankings hate google and say it is full of spam.

People with good rankings love google and say they are the best engine out there."
– Chris_R, Google - SEO: A love - hate relation?, Dec 16, 2002

... but always in our thoughts, discussions and prayers, ultimately declared ...

"I Thank Thee, O Holy Google, For Pointing Out Things That I Am (And Things I Am Not)"
– Girl w/ Kaleidoscope Eyes, Every other word is uh huh yeah ok (Bad Samaritan), June 27, 2002

"Thank you holy Google for sending more lost souls my way"

"It is one of the greatest things ever created, and perhaps the most useful site on all of the net besides the holy Google itself"

"Google definitely returned superior results, it's like the thing is psychic!"

"Holy Google!"

"Heretic! You dare defame the Church of Google?


"Yeah, verily, for I have seen the light and its name is Google. I hereby give my life and the lives of my descendents to uplifting the hallowed name of the most holy Google."
– By BugCatcher, I'm starting a new religion (Kuro5hin), Jul 23rd, 2002

... the Church of Google.

"Our Google, who art on the Intraweb, hallowed be thine url,
Thine answers come, our search be done, in html as it is in heaven,
Give us this day our daily cached page,
and forgive us our misspellings,
as we forgive those who spam against us,
and lead us not into Goatse,
But deliver us from MSN,
for thine is the Intraweb,
and the meta-tags,
and the unique hits,
for ever and ever,

-- BugCatcher

Smoking Web

You can say what you want about smoking, but it definitely hurts your spelling. Counting the Google result pages for misspellings, the following statistic shows how much exactly a certain brand will affect you:

malboro cigarettes1,200
gauloise cigarettes788
gitane cigarettes572
parlament cigarettes388
“virgina slims” cigarettes254
dunhil cigarettes154
winsten cigarettes122
“philip moris” cigarettes85
slem cigarettes41
“pal mal” cigarettes23
“luky strike” cigarettes14
davidof cigarettes14
“mone carlo” cigarettes11
camle cigarettes6
chesterfeild cigarettes5
“mild sven” cigarettes2

Google Chess

Could you guess what the following Google-query results in?
“1. d2-d4 d7-d5 2. c2-c4 d5xc4 3.”



Those are chess game movements. Makes you wonder if one day there will be enough of those “replay match” sites online that you could google your next chess move.

Googling Frames

Larry wrote to me:

“While I fully agree with your theme and largely agree with your bullets, I have to ask why you say,

“Avoid frames — They are evil. From the human perspective as well. It’s about accessibility.”

While one recommended that we avoid them, current browsers support frames, the NOFRAME tag covers older [browsers], and most developers are identifying frames with descriptive names.”
– Larry via Email, 9 Jun 2003

I have to agree my phrasing was a bit strong (well, intended as irony, too). It’s true that frames aren’t very popular among usability experts. There are many reasons to that, so instead of repeating all that has been preached the last years*, I will just list two points:

*And the also oft-suggested “workaround”: use server-side includes/ scripting instead, or some sort of template system, or some sort of pre-processing done from your computer.

But what about search engines?

First of all, it creates some extra-work (and usability hurdle) to implement frames that, when only actual content is linked via Google, build up around the page automatically. (It’s usually a redirect detected with the “Framebuster"-JavaScript.) But let’s say that has been done, and the redirect is relatively painless to the user.

Let’s also say you took the time to create meaningful noframe-elements with descriptive titles. And perhaps, that you put up with duplicating content within the frame-setting file. Which you should, to allow for easy non-frames navigation devices.

There’s still one major issue when it comes to search engines:

As most know by now, the best way to be found is to have other people link to you. That means creating content that is interesting, but also accessible.

If you really still have a frame-structure on your page, or think about getting one, think about how people are going to create links to you. Because they need to know the URL. Which, when it comes to the actually interesting content (as opposed to the navigation or anything), is hidden by the frameset-URL.

Either people will figure out a way to find the content URL (in some browsers “Properties” from the right-click context menu), or they will link to the frameset, or they will forget about it altogether and stop bothering — and maybe they also don’t want their users, clicking on their link, to end up on a framebuster-redirect. Online, it just ain’t good manners to push people around (others being; be precise about what you have to offer, don’t assume anything about the user’s browsing context/ history, and so on).

In the best case, assuming people do bother to link to you, you will have links back to your homepage (the frameset URL)... and the other half of the links pointing to the actual content URL.
Of course, that would split the relevancy of certain keywords attached to the link when it comes to both pages — certainly not the best idea.

On the other hand, you might also say: “Since mostly everyone will link to the frameset, I can actually focus all good links on my homepage entrance, which should be great"; I’d say it’s up to you to decide.

Again — there is practically no difference between the accessibility/ usability/ navigation-design issues, and those connected with SEO.

Are People Still Using Frames Anyway?

Actually, I think the problem that frames once were is pretty much solved, since developers mostly stopped using them. However it’s still interesting to count pages returned upon entering certain “frames-only-warning” queries:

(These figures are rather high compared to such interesting queries as “Best viewed with Netscape 3”...)

The following was posted by WebMasterWorld member Ex_s on how much traffic a badly worded “noframes” really costs:

“I thought I’d share an interesting observation about descriptions in the SERPs. Today, a non-technical workmate looked for the NSW RTA website in Google. The description of the site was:

RTA Home Page
Your browser does not support HTML frames. Click here to proceed. Your browser does not support JavaScript. Click here to proceed.
Description: State government authority that builds major roads, promotes road safety, manages traffic, regulates...

She wasn’t even going to click on the link, but before giving up, she turned to me and asked “What’s wrong with my browser? Why can’t I view the site?”

So I’m wondering, for those who put such a message in NOFRAMES, are they turning away more than just the 1% who can’t view frames?”
– Ex_s, Your browser does not support frames (Webmaster World), Feb 25, 2002

So, let’s get away with this old saying found online ...

“If you got a message saying your browser doesn’t support frames, you’re probably using an older browser or version of Netscape or IE.”

... and write:

“If you got a message saying your browser doesn’t support frames, you probably entered one of the 200 million daily Google queries, and I’m incredibly sorry for wasting your time (and quite possibly, my money).”

SEO Tip for Image Galleries

Small SEO tip: if you have an image gallery, don’t link to the images directly — rather, link to an HTML page containing the image, and give the image a descriptive title.

Other things to think about on the page:

*"Last Image” or “Back” can be confusing when the user just arrived from Google, which is what this tip would optimize in the first place.

Here is an example page:

        1.0 Strict//EN" "DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd">
<html xmlns=""
        xml:lang="en" lang="en">
    <title>Painting of a Brown Guitar</title>
    <meta name="description"
            content="A painting of a brown guitar" />
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="gallery-screen.css"
            type="text/css" media="screen">
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="gallery-print.css"
            type="text/css" media="print">

<div class="image">
    <img src="brown-guitar.jpg"
            alt="A light brown guitar looks quite nice."
            title="Brown Guitar"
            longdesc="brown-guitar-description.html" />

    <br /><em>Brown Guitar</em>

<div class="navigation">
    <a href="yellow-guitar.html">Previous
            Image (Yellow Guitar)
</a> |
    <a href="yellow-guitar.html">Gallery
</a> |
    <a href="yellow-guitar.html">Next
            Image (Red Guitar)

<p>Copyright &copy; 2003 by John
  (<a href=""></a>)



Since those pages always reuse the same basic template, you might think about doing it via server-side scripting, like PHP. Then, you’d pass alt-text, title, and image-source as parameters to the page and let it be created dynamically.


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