Thursday, April 26, 2007

Googling, Alerts, and Our Own Personal Clipping Services

Google is not a verb...Google is not a verb...

Sorry. Just felt the need to atone for a moment, for using Google as a verb RIGHT IN MY SUBJECT LINE.

Google hates that. And they're so right. As a lawyer, a person who makes her living based on intellectual property rights, and a staunch opponent of evolution in our language, I'm entirely, 100%, completely, without reservation against the misuse of Google as a generic verb. So much so, that I'm willing to commit radical redundancies in the previous sentence.

Here's my excuse: I really meant "Google", not "search" in a generic sense. And I always really mean Google, because the one and only occasion on which I lowered my standards to use a different search engine was the day my company's server couldn't access Google for a few hours, and then I complained loudly and often about how I couldn't Google and was forced to use Yahoo's search engine instead.

And, of course, I also share the same excuse employed (usually implicitly) by the rest of the population. "Google" is just a much cooler, clearer, more concise, more to-the-point term than "conduct an internet search".

Anyway, I do it a lot for work. All the more, I work to make sure that when other people do it, they find the many websites for which I write, edit, and plan content. I've also recently been encouraging a friend who has a very popular email humor column that she archives on her website to start thinking more about marketing and about getting her website noticed and her column more widely circulated.

With my mind so thoroughly in that groove, it came as a great shock to me the other day when my stepdaughter Googled "Tori Sanders" and "Switch" together and popped up a film trailer starring my daughter (this is great stuff! I know it's an unlikely combination of terms, but no one even TRIED to optimize this!) and my daughter was...outraged.

That's right. No one said "they could put her on Google!" She was dismayed to find that any old person could type in your name and FIND you. She knew the movie trailer was online, and that was fine, because no one saw it unless you sent them a link...or so she thought. The very thing that keeps most businesses from operating successfully online had apparently been her unconscious safety net.

And it is, indeed, a different world when you can "Google" an eleven-year-old and turn up results. I had another taste of that same "different world" phenomenon when a friend recently suggested that everyone should have Google alerts set up in his or her own name. With all the time I spend thinking about internet marketing and search and...well...Google...THAT had never occurred to me. I have several dozen Google alerts set up to come to my mailbox daily, still others as the items appear throughout the day. But none of them had my name on them.

I listened to all the reasons I should have a Google alert in my name. They made no sense to me. I couldn't see why anyone would need a Google alert with her own name on it.

But I set one up anyway.

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