“Personalization” on the web is becoming very popular. Sites like MySpace and Yahoo! seem to go to great lengths to allow users to create their own “identities” online – both intellectually and physically. Even MSN allows the user to change the background color of the homepage, thus creating their very own “personalized” search medium.
Because it is ever-so-interesting to see how I am allowed to represent myself online and how I perceive myself (given the limitations of my choices) I decided to see how I look in Yahoo!’s eyes. With Yahoo! Mail a user can create a physical icon of oneself which is displayed when they open their email. Until you choose the physical aspects of yourself you simply get a gray window with an outline of a person with hair that looks like Albert Einstein’s.
When I entered Victor Frankenstein’s laboratory, aka, Yahoo!’s face, hair, skin color, eye color, etc. choice bank, I honestly felt a little limited. But then again, how could I expect them to provide me with choices like, dishwater blonde hair or blue-ish gray eyes? Even with my limitations, I began my creation – let’s see, blonde hair, blue eyes, fair skin, well, I like this outfit, it really represents my personal style, and this background really shows who I am.
Voila! It’s me!
Because of my investigation, when I check my Yahoo! email at home, I can see “Teal” staring back at me, even blinking occasionally. She has blue eyes and short blonde hair – she looks just like me.
This whole idea of online representation got me to thinking about the choices we are given online and what they and their limitations represent. Overcoming the limitations of the internet – search results, specifically – is what my job is all about. Working in search engine optimization, we are always looking at ways for our clients to avoid being constrained by the limitations of the search engines.
Idealistically, the central goal of a search engine is to provide the user with a thorough set of choices based on the user’s query – but this isn’t always the case. In SEO, we try to locate these tendencies and work with them so that our clients will be successful on the internet. In combination with other SEO strategies, we are working to help the search engines recognize relevant websites to return in search results.
So until the perfection of search engines is complete, we are going to have to make due with our somewhat limited choices. However, unlike the limited options available to build the blonde hair, blue eyed cartoon character adorning my Yahoo! Mail, users have more than a few choices and can always refine their query to enhance the choices they are presented with.