Google's Oil Slick

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Is Google really an Evil capitalist? Maybe not, but they’re sending a mixed message. 

Google’s GMail, Search, Calendar, Doc, etc. are slick for a reason: they wants you to use their free products so they can show you more ads and generate more revenue. However, Google’s bread-and-butter product, AdWords, resembles a 1990’s back-end business app coded in Oracle. It must be purposeful: it makes them more money.

If you haven’t played with adwords, I suggest you try it. Visit 404-page? Right. Try again without the trailing slash. 

The first thing you’ll notice is that your Google login doesn’t work. The systems aren’t integrated. Go ahead and set up a new account (and make sure you use an acceptable password… my usual Google Account password is too short).

Great! You’re in. Buying ads for keywords is easy. Just search some keywords, set some bids for a top-3 spot, click continue, click continue again, make sure you accept the terms, click continue, click continue, and you’re good to go! 

Let’s track how you’re doing. Login to Analytics. Set up the tracking code on your website, and *BAM*, you’re tracking your pageviews. (Now, wait a few days for results to populate.)

(Just don’t forget to link your Analytics account to your AdWords account– I’m still not sure how I did it or if it’s working.) 

So, you go back to AdWords. Oh, were you logged in with an account (your Google Account, not your Google AdWords account) that already has an AdSense account? Don’t worry, Google will let you know that you probably wanted AdSense, and forget to give you the option of logging out or linking to your AdWords account. So, browse to, sign out, and get back to AdSense. (Remember to omit the last slash.)

The first thing you’ll notice is that your convergence goals aren’t tracking. That’s because you didn’t put in the convergence tracking code into your website. Now, wait a few more days. Note: this is separate code from the Analytics tracking. Also note: You’re still not exactly sure how or if your Analytics and AdWords accounts are linked.

Alright! So we’re up and running. You’re getting visitors, they’re converging, and you’ve started tracking which keywords work and which ones don’t. Now, scroll through the 1,000 keywords you’ve purchased and start weeding out the bad ones. … One at a time… It might take all night, but it’s worth it. Get those convergence rates up and start a bidding war on those valuable keywords.

Ultimately, most buyers of AdWords won’t get that far. It’s not in Google’s interest. They want most people to be over-bidding and spending less time with the system, optimizing their AdWord purchases. But, given Google’s proven ability to create slick, well-received apps, this tactic feels borderline evil.

(Too Many) Variations on a Theme

It’s great that people blog– I just wish they’d stop saying the same thing.

Through school, students write papers to demonstrate subject knowledge, less so to articulate original thought. Old habits die hard, people start blogging, and in this age of instant worldwide publishing, we end up chewing on a lot of cud.

It’s not that people are boring, stupid, or have nothing to say– (though, that’s debatable…) Years of response-based writing inclines people to offer reactions than articulate their own, original ideas.

It’s much easier to write reactions than create ideas and be wrong. Save nothing of the social anxieties for being wrong, describing new ideas is a hard thing to do.

People tend to follow the path of least resistance and thus the blogosphere saturates itself with commentary. And, since the blogosphere moves with such great velocity, it’s near impossible to keep track of everything that’s been said. 

Unfortunately, all contributions — and I use that term loosely — are indexed and compiled into the same channel. We call it “Google”, and the signal-to-noise ratio goes up. Way up.

Responses typically fall into certain categories. (Ask anyone who grades papers or reads hundreds of blogs.) With blogging, there’s just more. It seems more people are interested in demonstrating knowledge than contributing new thought.

My theory is that this happens subconsciously. Years of response-based education create this need– it’s how we were graded by our superiors and evaluated by our peers. People need to show that they know something.

There’s no problem with that, except that this need generates millions of blog posts. In result, we saturate our knowledge space and make it near impossible to wade through.