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When Humans Beat Search Engines

Discoverability and uncovering content has for the longest time been the job of Google’s unassailable  search engine algorithm, but experts are voicing the increasing importance of the human subject matter expert who gives personal advice and guides others to important information. When it comes to content curation, perhaps John Henry and his hammer can beat the mighty power tool.

Online Content Establishes Thought Leadership

One of the best things a company can do to position themselves online as a thought leader in their respective industry is to publish content that enables prospects to find them for their area of expertise. Getting found in Google is the traditional path toward accomplishing this. Included in Google’s secret sauce is the patented Page Rank which essentially acts as a machine sweeping across the web to order and rank website pages for their authority. Additionally, there are over 200 other indicators baked into Google’s search functionality that take into account relevance, comprehensiveness, and speed to best mirror human behavior for finding relevant information.  However, times are changing and the tide is turning more toward favoring the person over the Search Engine machine.

Humans Winning Battle to Define Authority

In a recent interview with Steven Rosenbaum, author of Curation Nation: How to Win in a World Where Consumers are Creators, humans are winning in the fight to be the, “clarifying voice,” to sort out all the noise about niche topics of interest. In this interview, Rosenbaum elaborates on the idea that people who curate content and sort out what’s useful and important will have just as big of a role as Google moving forward:

“Well, curation begins with this idea that Google, as remarkable as it is, is beginning to show kind of some wear and tear around the edges. And the reason for that is simply that there’s just so much out there that their methodology, which says we can find everything with a robot, starts to kind of fall down a little bit. And what it gets replaced with in, in my world view, is this shocking idea that, in fact, the way you find things is by working with humans, as opposed to robots.” Rosenbaum additionally cites Clay Shirky, a Chicago DrupalCon keynoter, whose thoughts on human interaction and search engines provide another viewpointthat starts to poke holes in Google’s dominance.

Facebook Edges Google for Authority

Facebook,  king of human interaction, actually has a slight edge over Google since the beginning of 2011, capturing 7.07% of all US internet visits per day, as opposed to Google’s 7.03%.  An interesting site called Allfacebook.com shares stats on the fastest growing Facebook Fan pages and provides a way to monitor  the growth of big brand pages since Facebook’s roll out of new features and functionality this February, 2011.  With Facebook’s plans for monthly roll outs of additional features, many will monitor these stats with keen interest.  Last week’s fastest growing Facebook page was called Man v. Food. One of the tactics used to help them grow their fan base was the use of UGC or User Generated Content that involved  apromotion asking viewers to create a video naming a spot in their town the show should should visit. The personal engagement and involvement quickly increased brand awareness and the trust factor with their fan base thus positioning their page to be the go to source for news and information in their area of interest. Instead of going to Google, fans are now drawn into the magnetism of this character.

Personalities and brands that live in the social media channels are not only putting content creation in the hands of the user as a means of engagement, they are acting as a watchdog or custodian for important news, developments, and insight on topics of interest to a niche audience. These personalities are real people and are not only getting an edge over Google’s search engine, they are helping to shape the attitude of their respective industries.

© 1999-2021 Duo ConsultingNational Law Review, Volume I, Number 101
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About this Author

Network Systems Engineer

Scott supervises Duo’s network facilities, monitoring hardware and software, analyzing problems and ensuring that the network is fully operational. He works closely with clients to identify, interpret and evaluate their system requirements. He also provides the front-line defense of the Duo network by planning, coordinating and implementing network security measures. An avid Mac user, Scott is nonetheless happy to keep Duo’s servers running on Windows Server 2003 and Ubuntu Linux.

Scott has been working in network administration with Internet companies for over ten years. He has...

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