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Search but you may not find

"Google is search. It’s the verb, to Google. It’s what we all do, all the time, whenever we want to know anything. We Google it." Carole Cadwalladr/The Guardian

This picture actually represents success not failure, for at least I sort of found what I spent a long time looking for. MInd you when I read the note at the bottom -

*If you’re the owner of this website and have questions, reach out to Bluehost. We’re happy to help." -

I am now not at all sure. But I will try tomorrow just for the sake of a postscript in my tomorrow blog whatever that may be. The reason I am featuring this is because it led to a few thoughts about websites and internet recognition which may or may not go anywhere. And not a lot about food other than that the website was looking for was a foodie website.

To begin at the beginning. Yesterday, if you read it, I wrote one of my posts on foodie websites. At the end of writing such a post I always look to see what the next one will be - like my Lucky Dip and First Recipe posts. Just so that I know whether I really want to do that, or indeed whether the website still exists. So the next website on my list was Make Sandwiches. After about an hour of looking and not finding it I gave up for the day, which led me to ask a few questions in my head.

I will begin with my search strategies, and this quote, which I couldn't resist, and which I shall explain:

"There are people who are specially trained to find information. They have access to resources that others don’t and their institutions spend millions of dollars to maintain databases of indexed specialized information that Google does not. Many have multiple graduate degrees in specialized subjects. Who are they, you wonder? Librarians. And they won’t charge you for asking questions." Bruce Fulton/Quora

Now I was a librarian. But I'm not that crash hot at internet searching, for which I have two excuses.

The first is that when I was doing my training computers were very new - there was no internet did not exist except in the cloistered world of academia and the military. Tehre was therefore no Google. I do remember doing a subject on reference work - looking for answers for your customers, but it did not include anything to do with computers. I don't think even the library catalogues were computerised - or only just beginning to be. My second excuse is that in the end I ended up in cataloguing - which did not involve looking for answers. It did, however, involve the searching of databases - via the academic internet which, I think was the only one that existed at the time. Fundamentally though it was just one database - the Australian Bibliographic Database and I became skilled at searching that, and I did learn things like Boolean operators and so on. So yes, I am a pretty good searcher, but not a highly skilled one. And I was trained in finding books (as well as other things found in libraries) - which does indeed cover a lot - but not answers - or websites because there were none.

So I began yesterday's search by just typing Make sandwiches into the Google search page, which of course was useless because all it brought up was heaps of sites telling me how to make sandwiches as well as commercial companies who make and sell sandwiches. Plus a little bit of history and Wikipedia's take on it all. So I castigated myself for being so stupid as to think that a simple search like that would work although it also made me think that the author of the website should have chosen a better name if they wanted to be found.

It is a catchy name - I think that's why I added it to my list, but not catchy when it comes to a Google search. And neither, I should add, is my own website name - Rambling Rose. If you type in rambling rose to Google this picture demonstrates what you get. Obviously. Lots of flower sellers and nurserymen, and the occasional restaurant. Not me. Now I'm not upset about this. My intention in doing this blog is just to amuse myself and to keep my brain working. I am happy that just some of my family - not even all of them - and a few friends look at my ramblings from time to time. I am really pleased if I get 10 hits. Although - I suppose a tiny bit of me buried deep down inside, would be flattered if the world outside my own circle produced just a few readers. It's very deep down though, and certainly not worth putting in the time to achieve that.

It does demonstrate, however, that the name of your website is very, very important. There are many technical things that you can do to increase the visibility of your website, but frankly I can't really be bothered becuse I don't much care how many readers I have. If you do care about being found, then I'm sure you would pay more attention to the various SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) things that you can do, you might even pay a professional to do it for you, but the name of your site would surely be super, super important as that would be the first thing that searchers would enter into Google. It would need to be catchy - to be easily remembered; descriptive of what you do and also distinctive. Recipe Tin Eats - Australia's top foodie blog - is a good example I guess.

The name is not the only thing of course - you need excellent content - good is not enough, easy navigation, all those SEO things as well as advertising I think to become a successful website. Because:

'"Googles search is NOTHING [to] what it once was. Yes, it once was the gold standard when it came to search engines. And when I say gold, I mean GOLD. You could find anything almost for the longest time. Nowadays, unless it's a well known website or it's trying to sell you something, then you would be hard pressed to find it." Bruce Wrigleys/Quora

Back to my search. I tried just asking a question as if I was asking a question of someone - 'where is a foodie website (or blog) called Make sandwiches?', but still no success. I tried variations of that - still nothing. I even tried the "Make Sandwiches" trick - whereby if you put something in between quotation marks Google will search for that exact phrase, but still nothing - just the same old recipes and sandwich shops.

So I started to think that maybe it had died. There are lots of 'dead' sites out there, but they are not really dead - they are just defunct in the sense that nobody has contributed to them for a long time. Although you would have to wonder how that happens, because all websites are 'hosted' by someone and when you stop paying them one assumes the website disappears. Although, that said, some are 'free' - like my first version of this blog. It's still there, although probably unfindable unless you have the url.

Websites do die - and if you do actually know the url - either the whole thing or the domain name, but unbeknownst to you it is dead, then you will get the 404 error message. What is this?

"A 404 error is when a website's server can't find the page you're trying to access via a hyperlink or typing a URL in your browser. In these cases, any link to a page that isn't there, or a link with a typo in the target URL is called a dead or broken link." Semrush

Although it's never that simple of course - it might actually mean that although that url is dead the site has moved elsewhere, or that there is some kind of connection issue.

But I digress. How did I finally sort of find my Make Sandwiches? Well today I thought to concentrate on that domain name and the suffix - .com, .net., .edu etc. First of all I just tried a few with no success and then I tried adding in a potential website software name like wordpress which often is included in the name, especially for we amateurs who are looking for a free domain name, but I got nowhere. Until I realised that I had not run those two words together - makesandwiches - as they are in a domain name. And there it was - - and yet it wasn't because there was the 'be back soon' message. 'Try again tomorrow' it said. So I will but who knows whether it will be there or is somehow permanently out of action. Sites get hacked after all - it happened to the film society website that I maintained once. We had to take it down and start all over again.

I suppose there are just two things that I get from all of this rambling.

Number one. If you have a website, then it's name is super important - and the suffix you choose as well - if you want or indeed need to be found that is. So it makes you wonder how many people like me, who don't much care and are just doing it as a hobby, are out there typing away in their little corner of the internet that nobody visits. There's not just the dark web - there's a web full of sad little souls like me - now what would you call that? The lost web? LIke the archives of the world, full of documents and objects that nobody - except the archivists who have carefully catalogued it all - knows is there. Or like treasures hidden under the sands of Egypt.

Number two - which I really can't be bothered to go into - the evil nature of today's Google - or not. Because as its founder Sergey Brin says:

"Some say Google is God. Others say Google is Satan. But if they think Google is too powerful, remember that with search engines unlike other companies, all it takes is a single click to go to another search engine."

Lots of people seem to think Bing is a good alternative.

Also I now know that when I write down these website names in my list, then I should write down the whole domain name instead of just its name. That way I won't waste so much time inside on a day when I should be out in the garden. It's a gorgeous, gorgeous day.


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