Last May, I conducted a little experiment. I went to six different Internet search engines and typed in one word: Seattle. I then looked at the first page of non-sponsored results. Since search engines profess to seek what customers really want, I thought this might give me, New To Seattle, some insight into what’s really important in the minds of the masses, or at least what is being offered at first glance. What I ended up getting was an interestingly eclectic mix.
A year later. Time to duplicate the experiment.
Results: rather boring convergence. A lot more of a happy-talk focus on tourists and their interests. A lot less of an emphasis on most everything else.
I started again with lesser-known Mahalo.com, whose slogan is “Learn Anything.” I’d say it’s the search engine that really needs some learnin’. Besides grammatical mistakes, the first page of Seattle results had false political facts (Greg Nickels listed as the mayor instead of Mike McGinn, who has held the job for three years), out-of-date data (the 2006 population for Seattle, nearly 40,000 less than the current estimate of 621,000) and simply incorrect information. Four of the seven listed “notable companies” of Seattle, for example, are actually based outside the city (Boeing, Microsoft, T-Mobile and Eddie Bauer). It was the one search engine displaying results with the least orientation toward visitors. Not to mention toward accuracy. Continue reading