Category Archives: Search

Santorum keeps on Spreading

Last weekend I attended The Stranger‘s Hump 2 screening (which was amusing, frightening, funny, disgusting and jaw-dropping all at the same time), and I chatted briefly with Dan Savage. He mentioned his little pet project, which I had worked on, and he said it was featured on the Daily Show not too long ago. A quick YouTube search, and there it is. Santorum segment starts at 1:30 into the video…

And thanks to Google’s algorithm change (I think we were previously hand-edited down to 2nd in the results) in the past few months, we’ve regained the #1 spot for “santorum“. With that one indirect mention on the Daily Show in July, check out the traffic spike on the site.

In the YouTube results I also found that santorum was featured in a full 2 minute spot on Googlecurrent_ which is part of the Current TV lineup. I’m glad to see a little Google-bombing has good staying power and keeps on spreading.

Google Working on Flash Games?

Like some people with personal websites or weblogs, I have my resume sitting on my site, just hanging out. Every once in a long while I’ll get a recruiter who stumbles across it as they’re doing searches. I received this in an e-mail the other day:

I am a recruiter looking for some top talent to fill an exciting Software QA Tester position at Google.

There is a Google office that opened up not too long ago in Kirkland, Washington and apparently they’re looking to fill a number of QA positions (temporary assignments). I do have a bit of experience, but unfortunately I’m not too interested in moving back into QA, let alone on a temporary basis. The rest of the message was your typical technical job description and common sense requirements: “a quick learner, a great team player, and able to work independently…” But at the top of the requirements there was an intriguing line, surrounded by double asterisks:

** Some of the openings require extensive experience testing Flash applications and some game background. **

What is Google working on? Flash and games? Not a lot of Google’s products currently use Flash. There’s Analytics which was almost entirely acquired and not in-house. Google Video uses Flash to embed their videos, and Google Finance does some nifty Flash stock charts. Is there much else?

And games? What’s the plan there? Sure, it falls somewhere on the list of possible directions that Google could go. Yahoo has a huge user-base in their online games, and Google may want a piece of the pie. It would of course be a huge area for targetted advertising through the AdSense behemoth. Puzzle games, maybe an umpteenth Bejeweled clone, Google-tris… A Flash-based Google MMORPG? Although I think they’d make a real killing if they went with online card games and poker, using real-money powered by Google Checkout.

Anyway, if you’re interested in a temporary QA position in the Seattle area, the big “G” is up to something.

Ego-crawling: How Popular is Your Name?

I’ve got to give a lot of credit to one of the search marketing brains at for a really interesting idea. We’ve recently rolled out some pages listing People Name Popularity. It’s currently limited to a very few names as an initial test, but the ultimate result would be a large directory of names, ranked by popularity (based on searches on our site). Interested in how popular the firstname James is? How about the lastname Smith? And there’s plenty of food for the ego surfers too. When James Otepka decides to Google himself, he gets some interesting (and hopefully ego-boosting) info from our directory. Why bother with all of this? Why not? We have the data and search history, so let’s make use of it. The extra traffic from Google might not hurt either. It’s worked for some less reputable folk out there.

The Names Database took a very different tactic and called themselves a Reunion/Classmates type connection site. Just give them your name and an e-mail address… and then another 5 names and e-mail addresses… and then a monthly fee… and then maybe you can find someone. Meanwhile they built out a massive static “directory” of their (your) names. If/when you actually get to a page for a particular name, it’s just a plain unusable list of as many or as few names as possible. Oh, and a whole lot of irrelevant Google AdSense ads. But… it all worked for them. They show up on Google results pages for plenty of uncommon names. And all of those e-mail addresses (valid or not) that they collected, garnered enough attention, and fetched a $10 million pricetag.