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Search Engines Are Users

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#1 cre8pc


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Posted 11 October 2015 - 07:48 PM

An expert SEO states in a talk that "Search engines are users."  




I feel that bots and computer programs are not users.  They are code we command and coded to respond to our demands. Search engines are tools. They can be programmed to perform as we direct them to but have no independence or emotions.


We influence search engines to do our bidding but I don't consider them users. 

#2 Black_Knight


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Posted 11 October 2015 - 10:21 PM

I see your problem.  They said "search engines", and rather than see that as a company, a business, with its own objectives and needs, you somehow equated it only to "bots and computer programs".


The search engines are services, and they are publishers.  If you want to be including in their publications, then you really do need to understand them as users, so that you can properly understand what they want to publish, and how to make that you.




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Posted 11 October 2015 - 10:49 PM

Search engines over the past several years have become significantly better webmasters, and through that they are keeping visitors on their sites longer, presenting their ads more effectively, inventing different types of monetization opportunities, and making more money.  They have discovered that it is easier to double your income from current traffic than it is to double your traffic, and thus their main source of revenue growth has come at the expense of the publishers and merchants who earn a living from the organic SERPs.  They have also become more tolerant of sending stuff out to their publisher network that they probably would not publish on their own sites.  You will know when they have truly become better webmasters when they start to monetize their content pages - they ought to have their heads examined for not doing this long ago and will probably start doing it before close of business today, after reading this.

#4 cre8pc


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Posted 11 October 2015 - 10:55 PM

Search engines provide a service, yes.  They do not, however, purchase from any website that uses their service.  We use them, not the other way around.


The person who presented that was teaching how to do an SEO audit, and I took his statement a bit out of context.  I've seen him say it in Facebook as well.  SEO's do approach SE's as users of page code, in that the code has to be analyzed and understood.  But the mistake is putting all the focus of content solely on search engine "users" which I continue to see companies preferring to do and stopping there.  


The intent of page design should focused on humans who are hoped to take action after landing on a page from a search query.  


I suppose that one way Google as a user makes sense is that they are forcing mobile design.  They see what devices we use.  However, I don't believe for a second that Google's focus on mobile is motivated by a desire to deliver us what we want, how we want it.  If that were so, there would be as much a demand for accessibility and passing standards for special needs users.  


Added>> Do Search Engines use us? (It's that danged word...can be interpreted in many ways.)

Edited by cre8pc, 11 October 2015 - 11:05 PM.




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Posted 11 October 2015 - 11:04 PM

Google uses our content, to provide a service, and then uses that service to produce their own income.


Google uses the competitive nature of merchants, service providers, evangilsts to ratchet up their income.


Google uses data that they collect about us to serve better ads and ratchet up their income.


Searchers and their aggregated personal information are the products that they produce, maniplulate, advertise and use as the basis of their monetization.  They are selling bits and bytes about us.

Edited by EGOL, 11 October 2015 - 11:05 PM.

#6 cre8pc


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Posted 11 October 2015 - 11:13 PM

Yep.  When I look at it that way and with Ammon's ideas, it's logical.  My brain always goes to software testing, usability, human factors mode when I see the term "users".   

#7 Black_Knight


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Posted Yesterday, 04:57 AM

The reason that I look at search engines as users is mainly because the SEOs who only look at them as algorithms, and their technical specs, always end up algo-chasing, unable to look ahead to future development because they lack the mindset to determine intent.  When looking at intent, you always have to understand them as people - whether they are customers, advertising networks, affiliates, or search engines.

#8 bobbb


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Posted Yesterday, 09:41 AM

I would tend to agree with Kim who equates user to a human so I checked the dictionary definition. I included Wikipedia but it generally says what is said on the Internet.

someone who uses something such as a service or a piece of equipment
macmillan dictionary

a person or thing that uses something

someone who uses a product, machine, or service:

A user is a person who uses a computer or network service
wikipedia (computing)


The most convincing argument is Oxford of course. Definition 1d includes organization even though the reference footnotes for 1d are centered around humans.
The real kicker is the second definition centered around law with no reference to human or organisation; pure definition.

1a. A person who has or makes use of a thing
1d. A person or organization who makes use of a computer or system organization


2 law
continued use, exercise, or employment of a right, property, practice, etc.;



So I lost. A search engine is a user.

#9 iamlost


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Posted Yesterday, 11:25 AM

I think that Alan Bleiweiss' tweet from 14-August-2015 is Kim's reference, albeit she saw it (or some variation) republished on FaceBook:

Screen shot 2015-10-12 at 9.40.47 AM.png

He is basically stating the case for SEO.
That it needed to be said I find sad. The current crop of dot-to-dot SE rank chasers must be especially clueless. Or perhaps just those that follow Mr. Bleiweiss?


#10 cre8pc


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Posted Yesterday, 11:30 AM

Yes.  And he used it again in his slides during his presentation last week at Pubcon. Alan does a lot of site audits... in depth and meticulous.  I want to ask him if he can better define what he means  :)


ADDED>>  I emailed him.


The screenshot is a good description and I had jumped on it back when he said it in FB because it ruffled me up a bit.  It ties into what I keep facing in my work.  Every single client puts search engines first and humans last.  That said, usability folks don't understand the need to consider SE's as "users" either.  

Edited by cre8pc, Yesterday, 11:41 AM.

#11 AlanBleiweiss


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Posted Yesterday, 01:45 PM

Well hello brilliant humans!  And how are we, this fine day?




Yes, as my first post here in what? 4 years? I had to include mr. dancing banana! 


So. Search engines as users...


Ammon is correct in his thinking and understanding.


I don't convey that concept on the notion that the people who attend my presentation, or follow me on Faceook or Twitter are completely clueless.  Heck, I even convey it to every client in every audit as one of a few opening summary statements.  Again, not because they are entirely loopy in their brains.


So let's explore that deeper, shall we?


Please pardon the extensive use of quotation marks in my longer response below. I include them to help convey how I came up with this notion of search engines as users several years ago...


I drive this as a primary message because Google has always driven the concept that we shouldn't chase the algorithms, that we should focus on users/humans/visitors/clients/customers/prospects...


Except, unfortunately, that inevitably leads people who have even a "somewhat advanced" understanding of SEO to, at the very least, occassionally ignore or discount critical factors that cause search crawlers, and search algorithms to choke, become lost, confused or to otherwise misunderstand something.


Since "they" are crawling a site, for the purpose of using that content for "their" purposes, and since "they" use the content to further "their" organization's goals, "they" are users.


Since "they" make ALL of "their" decisions through two funnels (search quality and spam prevention/reduction), the human mind, heart and soul are emulated formulaically.


If we do not ensure proper access based on bot access to content, and formulaic evaluations of what is discovered formuaically, "they" end up having to "figure it all out".  And since we ALL, I assume, can agree that search engines often do a TERRIBLE job in figuring it all out, it is our responsibility to accept that the technical work is equally vital to the human usability considerations.  Search crawler and search algorithm usability is just as important.


And because it is, I can't tell you how many highly advanced professionals within our own industry end up hiring me to do audits simply because they hadn't gone far enough in accepting that notion prior to my educating them.  And even then, most agencies I get repeat work from don't have the energy/capacity/time for many different reasons, to dig deep enough into this factor as I have given over the years. 


It's not rocket science. However it is search science. B:)

#12 iamlost


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Posted Yesterday, 02:31 PM

Every once in a while it is well worth enticing folks to respond. :banana_wgun:

And this instance resulted in an excellent information post for Cre8 members and lurkers, oh my. Quite put the cake in the icing of this thread.


Thanks for taking the time, Alan. :cheers:

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