Friday, 17 October 2008

Googling the Zeitgeist

Just for fun, I googled "website", and got  a little glimpse into the internet zeitgeist as Googlebot sees it. With such a generic query, it's basically comparing websites based on a lowest common denominator and, presumably, the sites with the greatest number of incoming links and highest page-rank bubble to the top.

www.google.com tells us the most important website-related websites in the world, right now, are

  1. The painted shutters of Serra san Quirico, in the Marche, Italy.Website - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. Welcome to Obama for America - Barack Obama's presidential campaign website
  3. Microsoft
  4. Website.com (who are presumably here because they talk about websites a lot)
  5. Adobe
  6. Apple
  7. The IRS (US tax and revenue agency)
  8. Starbucks
  9. McDonalds
  10. Subway (restaurants)

That's interesting... Wikipedia, Barack Obama, tech companies, coffee, taxes and fast food. It's like a little summary of the daily lives of hi-tech America. (Worth noting that of the sites in that list,  Microsoft, Apple and Adobe have a Pagerank of 9/10, while website.com has a fairly unremarkable 6/10)

Then Ben Taylor tried the same thing on Google UK, which gives us

  1. The BBC
  2. Banksy (the "street artist")
  3. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Website
  4. Oasis (the band)
  5. The Secret Intelligence Service
  6. The British royal family
  7. Bloc Party (the band)
  8. The National Trust (an organisation that works to protect historic buildings and sites of natural beauty in the United Kingdom)
  9. Number 10 Downing Street (official residence of the Prime Minister)
  10. Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet" on Google Books.

That's us... Graffiti, Shakespeare, history, and rock'n'roll... how very British.

It'll be interesting to see how those lists change over time... graphing the progress of specific topics up and down the Google "website" results over time would make for interesting viewing. Watch this space. Or rather, come back in about six months when I've got the data, and then watch this space.

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