How Long are your Google Searches?

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Marshall Simmonds, SEO guru for the New York Times, told a group of Boise reporters and PR flaks yesterday that Google search queries are getting longer.

So how long are your searches? Do you type a whole sentence, or are you more about quality of search terms than raw, uncut length?

SEO, for those of you who have never even heard of it, is search engine optimization, and according to Simmonds, there is nothing wrong with it, nothing sinister. It is just presenting your content (the stuff that used to be called articles and photos) in a way that Google and other search engines can find it and index it.

We also learned about a new search engine called BING. It's a Microsoft project but we'll still try it, and it's the first hit on Google when you search for "Bing."

Simmonds said that half of all Google searches—some 250 million to 300 million a day—are unique searches. More people search for "NFL" than National Football League, and "diet" is better than weight loss. So that could throw some AP Style and traditional newspaper verbage on it's head, though Simmonds stresses that editorial standards come first.

But good writers have always known that shorter and more direct terminology is better to read. So I'm going on a diet.

But here's one thing that made us a little uncomfortable: The Idaho Press Club, which sponsored the event, is made up of journalists and PR people, which is fine. A little bit unholy and awkward, but fine ... they are nice enough. So we are all sitting there in the Idaho Public Television meeting room, and learning about social media and search and I'm realizing that in many ways the two fields have completely competing interests online.

How do we ensure that truth and justice come before sales and marketing on the search engines?

One guy had some ideas for this at the Alt Weeklies conference we just returned from. Scott Karp, of Publishing 2.0, thinks that newspaper editors should become the new filters for the Web. Editors have always served as filters, picking and choosing stories for the public. So we can collectively pick and choose the best on the Web for ya'all, link to it and reclaim our mantle as Chief Filter Strategists.

So here's another question: Is it cool to edit retweets, I mean, if you are an editor? Someone sends out a Twitter with a good link but a stupid call out... can I tweak it and still give them credit for alerting me to the link?

This post has been a little scattered and probably hard for Google to catalogue, but it's all somewhat related, no?

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