Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

Google Guilt

def. A sense of remorse for bringing people to your blog or website through search engines under false pretenses.

I really don't like to disappoint people or let them down. Unfortunately, I do this many times a day to people who I don't even know.

On a blog or website, you can easily find out how many people visit your site. This information is entertaining for a little while, but the true fun lies in where these visitors came from and how they arrived at your virtual home (otherwise known as referrers).

On this blog, a large percentage of visitors come directly from Google. The cool thing is I can see what they searched for and what they found. This is where it became less cool.

I've found that many of these visitors are leaving disappointed, let down, maybe even a bit annoyed (other options provided by the thesaurus - vexed, irked, and in high dudgeon). There are two reasons for this.

First, I like to use common phrases to title my posts, or at least I did the first 12-18 months of this blog. I think the technical word for this may be pun. Here's a sampling...

I wanna be just like you

My post is the first result on Google, above the actual song on Amazon. The subject is A-List bloggers.

More love, more power

A song title that seemed like a brilliant phrase for a post about power outages.

Face it girls, I'm older and have more insurance

Not the title, but still the first result on Google if you're looking for the line from Fried Green Tomatoes. The subject of the post? The 2004 Republican Convention.

You would be amazed at how often people search for these phrases and it bugs me to no end that they are not finding anything remotely related to what they were searching for. Of course, there's something to be said for accidentally coming across a new blog and perhaps that happens in a few instances, but I'm sure the majority hit the Back button as soon as they realize they still haven't found what they're looking for. (Oh no, now random searches for U2 lyrics are going to land on a post about search engine confusion!)

The second reason I have disappointed visitors is The West Wing. Two years ago, I wrote a post entitled West Wing Finale. Since the show is now in its final season and the few remaining episodes are airing, that seems to be a popular search. Unfortunately, my post is in the top 5 despite its age. Every Sunday for the past weeks, thousands of people have been getting up from the couch right after West Wing is over and searching for information about the finale and I've let them down!

And so, this is what I call Google Guilt. There are a few things that can be done about it, though. First, a clever, humorous title can be fun in the short-term, but in the end, it's better to be clear on what the post is about. Second, search engines may want to find better ways to show the date of a post or page. Third, I think I'll rename my post "West Wing Finale 2004". It will help me sleep better on Sunday nights.