In one of the most interesting profiles on Google I can ever remember reading, a writer for Wired spent some time watching the monitors in Google’s lobby that display real-time searches from the search engine. The writer commented that there was perhaps no better way to gain insight into the depth and breadth of the human experience than to watch what people searched for over the course of a day and into the middle of the night. The author of the article commented that watching the constant stream of queries in real time was fascinating, illuminating, and somewhat horrifying. I can only imagine.
Although obviously less grand in scope, Google’s auto-complete feature can also provide valuable insight into the nature and character of a given topic, person, or website. The auto-complete feature, which for Google is called Google Suggest, recommends the most common search phrases as a user begins typing into the Google search box. For example, if I start typing in d-i-g-i-t-a-l-c-a, the search engine will recommend a series of searches around digital camera.
The recommendations that Google makes are based on both the frequency of the search terms as well as the relevancy of those search terms as measured by how often those results are clicked on. While oftentimes obvious or mundane, Google Suggest can sometimes deliver valuable information ranging from human behavior to corporate brands and consumer trends. There is even an amusing and sometimes frightening blog dedicated to the topic – autocompleteme.com.
All of this caught my attention one day recently when I started typing in a few job board websites into Google and noticed what Google recommended as the most popular search phrases associated with them.
While neither result is the least bit surprising to me, it confounds me that job seekers continue to feel that paying for job listings that are so abundantly available throughout the web at no cost will somehow help them in their job search. And though I’ve said it before and will continue to do so until these fraudulent scams are stopped, job seekers should never, ever, ever pay for job listings on the web. Period. While some might argue that I might be biased, it’s tough to argue with millions of Google’s users who irrefutably confirm my views.
If the site you’re typing into Google is followed by the words scam, fraud, ripoff, phone number (apparently to call and cancel the service which is virtually impossible to find or do), or complaint in Google Suggest, it might be worth staying away from.