Search as an industry can be a bit inward looking. Take me for example – I can’t remember the last conversation I had with someone outside the industry. In fact, this last trip to Toronto, I mainly hung out with search people. That is dangerous and that is why I have now made a point of trying to break out.
How do people use search these days? Well, Hitwise would be our first port of call with a secondary nod to Google and other keyword research tools then some online studies. Watching friends and family and asking questions seems to have drifted away a little as specialist companies who examine user interactions with technology tell us how people are using search.
What do you do to rank well? While it seems instinctive to those of us in the industry as well as there being a wealth of information online, it’s still more of a secondary thought after traditional advertising outlets, of which PPC is becoming increasingly a part of. Search may be in our blood, but it’s still an aside to most people.
Generally, people expect the web to work. They expect Google to work and yet when I searched for children’s toys and related terms, I had sex toy results displayed so it isn’t quite working. We assume Google uses context and search history and explain to customers that this is why results change and yet it doesn’t always work.
I love search – as an industry it’s full of geeks and those are the people I feel most comfortable with. As a discipline it is always changing and so like law I keep having to update and refresh my knowledge. It is oriented around people though, and my psychology degree gets a full workout regularly.
As Rae Hoffman pointed out in Twitter, there are thriving search communities that are yet isolated from others. Search is diverse, dynamic, engaging and challenging. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else and yet at times I read Twitter, blogs and the like and wonder at our omphalocentricity.
So I’ve made a resolution to email people outside search more and touch base with my friend building a boat to sail around the world more often. I’m going to meet up with my friend who teaches humanities and religious studies and talk mythology. I’m going to lunch with my friend who works with Native Americans in traditional health. I’m going to try and stop navel-gazing and get out more
What do you do to escape search-centricity?