Citing Search Result Counts Is Not News
Fox News reporter John Gibson argued that the BBC had displayed "a frothing-at-the-mouth" anti-American bias. In response to some complaints about this coverage Fox News said searching for the phrase "BBC anti-american" in the Google internet search engine resulted in 47,200 hits.
The idea being that a lot of hits in a search result proves others are thinking along these lines as well. Unfortunately, search results don't work like a Gallup Poll. As you can see in our "GoogleFight" at the end of this report the phrase "Fox anti-american" provides 51,000 results!
In my opinion it is not a matter of bias but of misunderstanding about how Google and other search engines work. Pleeker at the SEW Forums states, "There's nothing wrong with using Google for research, as many judges (or reporters) are apparently doing. But the system falls apart when the researcher isn't able to understand the real value (or lack thereof) of what Google gives you."
Another poster points to a great article on this called "Lies, Damned Lies, and Google". The subtitle tells the story, "It's all the rage for writers to prove their points by citing Google. One problem: The stats are meaningless."
The news media and the general public (excluding us web-savvy people) may simply be confused. We are all used to seeing news stories of how popular Britney Spears is because she is the most searched for celebrity on Google. The number of times a phrase is searched and how many results show up for a search are two different things.
The results are in for Fox vs. BBC at GoogleFight.com ... check it out.
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About the Author:
Rich Ord is the CEO of iEntry, Inc. which publishes over 200 websites and email newsletters.
Rich also publishes his blog WebProBlog which focuses on internet business and marketing trends.
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