15 Jul Airo Security Support: Google is Stupid | EE Times
Google is stupid. This is actually an article about search engine optimization (SEO), and journalism, and artificial intelligence (AI), but because I want people to read it, I am obligated to repeat a “focus keyphrase” from the headline in this opening paragraph (the “lede” in journalism lingo), word-for-word — no variations of any kind. Well done!
Google now dominates the journalism business because it is genuinely easier for the average person to search for a specific news story or topic using the West’s pre-eminent search engine — Google’s — than it is to go directly to a specific news site. Like every other online publication, EE Times gets a good chunk of its traffic through Google.
Google has a mechanism to rank stories, based on criteria that Google sets (and those criteria apparently change every few months). Satisfying those criteria is SEO. To get traffic — more readers — it is imperative to engage in good SEO practices. We actually have a software tool that evaluates how well we’re doing with SEO. It is called Yoast.
If I practice good SEO, according to Yoast, it will lead to Google putting this story near the top of its results when people search for “Google” and “stupid.” Now, you’re probably saying to yourself: “Self? Don’t you think it is unnecessary for Brian to insult Google in his keyphrase? Wouldn’t it be easier to just use the keyphrase ‘SEO’?”
And you would be correct. I actually wanted “SEO” as my keyphrase, but EE Times has used SEO as a keyphrase several times, and I simply cannot get a good SEO rating if “SEO” is my keyphrase again, and that has got me frustrated, so “Google is stupid” it is.
Proper SEO requires me, as a journalist, to also repeat the focus keyphrase several times in the ensuing paragraphs (the “body” of the article), and it is highly recommended that I add it at the beginning of my first sentence and not at the end of my first sentence, and I must be careful to also repeat it in the story’s summary that appears on our home page (and in our newsletters). So I know you’ve already read this, but in order to be a successful journalist, I am obligated to repeat it: Google is stupid.
Google could easily get me to cease repeating “Google is stupid” and start writing at a level appropriate to an educated audience, if it were to — for example — stop being stupid. It clearly has no interest in doing that.
Google is stupid
The company is demonstrably reluctant to apply any human intelligence to SEO as pertains to journalism, but you know what? There is such a thing as artificial intelligence (AI), and Google insists it’s good at it. It just refuses to apply AI here, and if there’s a reason for that, it is scrutable only to Google itself. Heaven help us if Google actually is applying AI to SEO. If it is, and you own stock in Alphabet? Sell. Now.
Let’s be charitable: it is possible that Google is willing to apply AI to fix the problem it has created with its SEO rules, but perhaps it is too stupid to realize that there is a problem.
Drat! Therein lies the problem. In the preceding paragraph, the word “Google” is separated by 12 words from the phrase “is too stupid.” Furthermore, the word “too” appears in between “is” and “stupid.” That does not precisely match the keyphrase in the headline and in the lede, and so as far as Google SEO is concerned, I’m no longer discussing the same subject. I might as well have not written that paragraph.
The SEO metric for this sort of repetition is “keyword density.” In this case, repeating “Google is stupid” many times, long after I suspect that you, dear reader, long since got the point, improves my keyword density. Are you tired of me writing it? Sorry! Actually, I am sorry. I think keyword density, as defined by Google, is stupid. The focus keyphrase was found 15 times. This is great!
Oh, dear — I just compromised my keyword density by adding that comma between “Google” and “is” in the previous sentence…
A couple extra words? A comma? Google can’t handle them. Google can’t handle the distinction between plural and singular. “Semiconductor” and “semiconductors” are, as far as Google SEO is concerned, two different words. A possessive (“industry” versus “industry’s”) is right out. Synonyms? Ha! If I were to use “semiconductor” in the head, but then use “integrated circuit,” in the lede, and then “chip” in the excerpt — that summary that you see with each story on our home page — I might as well not write the story.
I would think that that doesn’t take AI to fix. It takes not being stupid in the first place. But at this point, I’ll take the AI.
Google is stupid
By the way, the tool we use for SEO also grades us on “readability.” There isn’t a single article on EE Times I’m aware of that has ever been deemed “readable” by this tool. I tried making a story readable once, and what I was left with was something little more sophisticated than “The Cat in The Hat.” Maybe we’re kidding ourselves, but we think EE Times readers can handle a sentence with a dependent clause in it without losing their way, or refer to an “IC” as a “chip” without confusing you.
Google is calling the SEO shots, though. We’ve knuckled under on the headlines and the ledes and the summaries, making them simplistic and repetitive, but we’re refusing to deliberately dumb down the bodies of our articles. We’ll be monitoring to see if Google’s SEO rules punish us for that too severely, however, because Google is stupid.
Also, for Google SEO to find my article acceptable, Google obliges me to add “outbound” links. Here is one: Is Google Making Us Stupid? Good job!
I also have to have an internal link, so what the heck, I’m going to link to one of our podcasts, the one where I explore the connections —or lack thereof — between history’s greatest mathematicians and cookies: