• December 1, 2007
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

The Dark Side of the Search Engine

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Memo from the desk of Marshall Lager, December’s Chief Googling Officer:

CRM's dozens of readers know that three little letters -- WWW -- and heightened customer expectations have dictated a new approach to branding. Today's darling is search engine optimization, a barely understood sorcery that involves rearranging the numerous tubes and portholes of the Internet so that searches lead to your page first. Be warned: Animal sacrifice and Tantric rituals may be involved.

At any rate, the act of paying search engines to cough up the results you want, rather than what they'd naturally list by relevance or number of references, is altering the landscape of data as we know it and leading inexorably to the...

Look, I can't drag this out any longer -- I couldn't come up with anything better this month than making fun of vendors' names, which is the business-mag equivalent of telling "Yo momma" snaps. [Editor's note: Marshall is equally adept at the real-world equivalent of "Yo momma" snaps.]

Here's a sampling of corporate names that screw with Google:

  • Salesforce.com is irksome. (The name, not the company. Keep sending chocolate!) It stole de facto ownership of a word describing an entire profession: One must now always refer to a "sales force." Damn you, Benioff, for making us use the space bar!
  • Sage has permanently co-opted spice racks everywhere, much to the chagrin of cooks looking for the ingredients in poultry seasoning or many tasty sausages. To add insult to injury, their logo isn't even sage-colored -- it's more of a teal.
  • I've joked about this before, but ancient Greece just hasn't been the same since Oracle got into the business. If Larry Ellison's crew could have foreseen the annoyance this would cause, maybe Big Red would have a different handle. (Maybe it'd even be "Big Red," but gum-chewers would chafe.)
  • SAP doesn't really deserve the same intensity of ribbing here, because the company isn't based in an English-speaking country. (That doesn't excuse Chevy for marketing its "Nova" in Spanish-speaking countries. Say it with me: "No va.") The Germans could hardly know their company name reminds me of the annoyance of parking my car under a pine tree. And just because it isn't pronounced "sap" doesn't let them off the hook -- SAS says its name like a word. I'd go further with this, but SAS CEO Dr. Jim Goodnight already wants to eat my liver.
  • NICE Systems deserves a nod. The NICE guys don't always finish last, but on the Internet, no one knows you're in all-caps.
  • Last is CanDoGo, a new company whose name inspired me to write this miserable excuse for a column. (Yes, I know it doesn't mess up search engines at all, but I said "inspired" -- that's how my mind works.) There are some very experienced people at CanDoGo (including Dave Batt, former CRM general manager of Sage), focusing on some kind of "new paradigm for personal development," but all I can think of when I read the name is candiru. For those of you who aren't already squirming at the thought, let's just say it's not a good association. I'll just say it's a Brazilian fish, and if you're typing that into a search engine right now, don't blame me for your reaction to the results.

Speaking of search-engine results, searches for "Coreen Bailor" may no longer direct you only to www.destinationCRM.com, as she's gone and accepted a position elsewhere. It's been a hoot, young lady -- good luck, and thanks.

Contact Senior Editor Marshall Lager at mlager@destinationCRM.com.

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