Fluent in Google?

Posted on November 18, 2008 · Posted in Keyword Research

In the past few weeks, a new search engine hit the market. As one would expect, several members of the techno-press hailed this new search tool as a Google Killer, albeit with one large caveat – DeepDyve was not designed to kill all of Google. It wasn’t even designed to kill most of it. In fact, DeepDyve was lining up with surgical precision to take out just one area where Google showed advancements years ago, and then seems to have let languish – the “deep web.” Yes, the collection of academic, medical, and technical journals and databases that are used heavily for producing more academic, medical, and technical journals, and completely ignored outside of those fields.

Honestly, there’s a reason why Google was ignoring this part of the web. And there’s a reason why each and every SEO specialist will completely overlook DeepDyve – because you probably should. But, I tend to like to do a lot of research for my writing, so I signed up for the private beta for DeepDyve and waited.

The interior pages of DeepDyve are rather sparse. They aren’t sparse in the typical airy Web 2.0 style, but rather, in white board about to be jammed with data fashion. The site itself gives you the feeling that the data is indeed right around the corner. The problem is that actually getting to that data. And that’s where the big SEO lesson came into play.

As I started plugging in short, targeted, keyword-rich phrases into the DeepDyve search box, I realized that I was using the engine incorrectly. DeepDyve doesn’t rely on the matching of keywords aided by anchor link text like Google does. DeepDyve wants a searcher to, quite literally, paste entire swathes of an article, if not the entire article outright, into the search box. DeepDyve then finds similar, and hopefully relevant content. And let me tell you, it felt foreign.

The awkwardness was what tipped me off. DeepDyve works in the exact opposite way that Google does. Where Google eliminates search results based on the specificity of the search string, DeepDyve adds to it, the more words included in your search, the more results you’re likely to get. And while these are both paths that hope to lead to the same general location: the ideal result for the searcher, they do beg a rather important SEO question – how are the users searching?

After all, many of you are probably like me. You know Google. You’re fluent in Google. Armed with Google, a mobile phone, and one bar on a cell connection, you can find whatever you’re looking for before your coffee even gets cold. And that really helps when picking out keywords. But, what are your customers searching? And how are they searching it? How much of the internet is fluent in Google? And how many users compare Google to high school Spanish class, remembering only a few tricks? How many are clueless and simply plug in sentences as if they were spoken?

The answer can be very helpful and begs the question, have we adapted too much to Google? Are we too close to the source?