Home Daily Brief 202200303 SEL Brief

202200303 SEL Brief

Good morning, Marketers, I’m sure you’ve heard this one before.

“Oh, so you know how to rank #1 on Google!” My barber said to me once after I explained what I do for a living. I’ve heard it many times by now, and each time, I feel like its an indictment of how poorly search engines and search marketers have communicated how search actually works. 

The general public knows so little about how they get the information they’re looking for, which isn’t acceptable since it’s their source of truth. The New York Times published an article last week discussing DuckDuckGo’s rise in popularity among right-wing communities — I wonder if those communities would continue to support DuckDuckGo if they realized that its results are powered by Microsoft Bing. Microsoft is, of course, co-founded by Bill Gates, who has also been at the center of conspiracy theories.

It doesn’t help that bad actors are out there guaranteeing rankings and preying upon uninformed clients, either. And, as the NYT article notes, data voids can be exploited to further spread misinformation. While the search engines have published volumes of content on how their systems work and even added transparency features, like Google’s “About this result” section, the vast majority of users still don’t understand.

While we can’t make users care about search ranking factors and algorithms, ignorance can have dire consequences for societies like ours, which are virtually powered by search. So, as a practitioner, inform those around you — it’ll help users better contextualize search results and enable them to understand what our jobs actually are.

George Nguyen,

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