In a world filled with endless information at your fingertips, you think that we’d be better off than ever- right?
I think it’s not true. Especially based on my experience with digital marketing.
It’s all too easy to forget how to properly research things. When was the last time you found yourself on the second, third, or even eighth search page for Google?
As I level up in life, I find that the questions I am asking are a lot more complicated than what a simple Google search can provide.
In fact what I’m discovering is that what you find on the first page of Google is triggering, useless, and completely unproductive.
It’s getting hard to do solid research. Proper learning still has to be done via the classic book-reading, or finding experts.
I don’t know if it’s always been this way for Google or not, but as my questions in life are becoming more complex, I’m discovering it quite difficult to find complex answers.
Keep in mind I’m not asking questions so absurd such as “what is the meaning of life” that we haven’t figured out for thousands of years. They also aren’t simple questions like “what does XYZ mean.”
One example of a recent thing I was trying to understand is the occurrence of white male – asian female relationships.
It’s been scientifically proven that this combination is popular, and often desired. It’s also a 2-way street- it’s not just “creepy men” desiring Asian women. The Asian women are doing the same. Believe me, I’ve lived in Thailand and had female Thai friends- for at least Thailand, white Westerners are certainly more desired by the local population.
This post isn’t about this question specifically, but of all the more complex questions I’ve had like this in life that Google seems to no longer be capable of answering.
For example, I’ve tried to research what it’s like to live in Vegas, why obesity is particularly high in the USA, and how to pick a solid home base.
The results are often triggering, useless, and massive time-sinks. Properly intaking solid information is now becoming less important than literally finding that information in the first place- and learning to disregard everything else.
SEO: Manipulation by Content Creators
With Google being a solid source for simple questions such as finding the address of a shop, locating a nearby yoga studio or bar, or defining a question or translating a word, it becomes easy to forget that Google (and all search engines) aren’t necessarily dependable for more complex questions.
As a digital marketer I’ve learned about something called “SEO.” This is “search engine optimization,” and it is the science of making your web page rank higher on Google.
For example, if when writing an article you include more of a certain keyword, Google’s bots will be more likely to rank your website higher for a particular search term.
You can also increase your SEO via a variety of other methods, one method being to have people spend more time on your website. This is why websites now are often filled with lengthy yet useless articles also filled with all kinds of pictures- it increases the length of time you spend on the page and thus increases their SEO.
The quality content creators are often geniuses in their respective fields such as psychology or science. The other content creators are focused on SEO and ranking higher because they are “gaming” Google’s algorithm to their advantage!
This creates a feedback loop. When your web page ranks higher because of SEO practices and not quality content, the creator is more likely to create SEO-focused articles and not quality content. Others start this as well.
Now we live in a day where many of the websites on the first page of Google for any search term are SEO-optimized, not quality or content optimized! You are discovering what is the equivalent of an online advertisement- NOT a genuine article.
Example: simply type in SSD vs HDD. This is a storage type on a laptop. The short answer is that “SSD is better than HDD.”
But the first article doesn’t say that. They write a lengthy, content-filled (yet for the most part impractical) article about all kinds of specifications and useless details that no one really cares about.
Even clear-cut research such as how much RAM you might need in a laptop is difficult because of these ridiculous SEO-focused articles that try to waste as much of your time as possible in order to rank higher on the Google search platform.
We can’t blame them or Google because that’s simply what they gotta do to get paid- so we have to take care of ourselves and realize that Google often sucks for more complex questions and make sure that we properly research or find the best sources for finding solutions to our problems.
The front page is often useless! In the example of me trying to research the white male – asian female combination all I could find were ridiculous articles of people triggered about this very real situation. I could only find one relevant video, but it wasn’t that useful.
In other research I’ve attempted, such as on sleep optimization, people fill articles with all kinds of generic fluff but the best information is difficult to access.
Reflective Walks are Better than Google
In many instances I am discovering that I learn less by hunting on Google than when I go for a walk in the city or around nature. I like to disconnect, turning off all stimulus and just go for a walk and let my mind do its thing.
Eventually my mind begins to quiet down, and I start to get reflective contemplations on things in life. I start to develop more creative, unique thought instead of repeating the useless jargon the mind repeats to itself.
Don’t get me wrong- I love Google and think it’s extremely powerful, and I am so grateful for it.
But sometimes for medium-level (or even high-level) problems or questions simply going on a walk has been more effective for me in discovering the solution. If it isn’t enough, then I often become a lot clearer in how I ask the question so I can narrow down the search criteria into what I absolutely need to solve the question.
The mind (ego) wants to get MORE information. It feels that it needs to understand and have a clear answer, especially as this is how low-level questions are solved.
For medium to high-level problems, this question for information often does more damage than it does good! This is because the articles on the first page (and even first five) are useless, triggering, SEO-focused articles that provide little value to you.
They often don’t solve a legitimate problem but instead just get you to read and engage with something lengthy. They get your click, your time, and then rank higher on SEO while all the legit articles fall deeper.
It’s much wiser just to let your own internal wisdom find the answer in a moment of silence…
Masterminds & Asking for Advice
Another avenue that tends to be quite effective is “masterminds.” They’re simple and super powerful for finding clarity. It’s simple.
You get a few friends, schedule a time to meet, and then meet in a quiet place where you can be undisturbed.
First one person talks for a defined period of time (ie. 2 minutes) about a specific problem.
Everyone must listen intently and take notes. Then everyone writes and creates solutions to the individual’s problem. Then everyone shares (one at a time, with one clear speaker at any given moment) their solutions or thoughts.
This continues for every member of the group, and it is an amazing experience. These are simple to organize and will give you some powerful insight.
Google is not intently listening to your specific problems! It can only take the search terms which you provide, whereas other humans can listen to a 2-minute speech on your problem. That is power.
You could also just ask a friend for advice, which is good too. But masterminds are better because you get multiple people’s advice at once and I’ve found that by listening intently to other people’s problems you get epiphanies on how to solve your own.
Learning How To Use Google
Another thing I’ve been doing recently is making sure I’m researching with the fullest capabilities possible. Google is extremely powerful- much more than a simple search!
For example if you put quotation marks such as “this” around a word, then Google will ensure that the article that pop up MUST contain this word. There may be other neat tricks I don’t know about.
Putting the “quotation” marks around words helps you find more relevant, detailed information, and I find that it narrows down the results list A TON. If you have 5-word search but your desired articles MUST contain one word, then Google will cut out all articles which don’t have that word- saves you a ton of time!
There’s perhaps more that can be done…
Curating a List of Solid References & Websites
Another thing which I’ve found effective is curating a list of effective websites for conducting research.
For example if I’m researching self-help I know that “Mark Manson” or “Steve Pavlina” may have the solution to my problem. If I need something more spiritual, I may include “www.calmdownmind.com” in the search as I’ve found this is an amazing website for spiritual-related content.
The key is to include the name of the desired website in your search term, or search for the content via the website. For example, maybe you Google “calmdownmind.com” how to meditate. Notice the quotations around the website- this ensures that Google only includes searches from THIS website. I can also search that website directly.
Courses & Paid Content
Courses and paid content still have the best information. More importantly, courses have a pre-curated list of content that you can access instantly.
Sure, you can technically “find everything online for free.” But you’ll get lost in all the bullshit on the internet as well.
Just paying for the content and saving yourself the time by getting a course which is content-packed with VALUABLE content is so much better and totally worth the spend.
Books- The Holy Grail
I still believe that books are the best source of information on Earth. Come to think of it, the vast majority of important things I’ve learned have been from a small list of solid websites, books, paid content, and then masterminds.
But books have been the key instrument in all of this. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for books.
Finding books is the most painful method of research because first you have to find the book, then you have a search through the book or even read the entire book in order to get your desired solution.
While the most painful & long method, I find it to be the most effective and as my questions in life becomes more complex, I’m noticing an innate desire for books over all kinds of other material!
Books are not SEO-focused. If they’re written right, then every page will be filled with or supporting some extremely useful content. Authors have little to gain by uselessly triggering you or wasting your time- it is instead in their best interest to provide maximum value on every page in order to get the best reviews possible!
Whereas on Google you are benefitted by lengthy, triggering, useless articles, on books you are benefited most by short, useful, and true + applicable content.
Improving Research to Improve Life
Alright so that’s all. I’ve just been reflecting today and realizing as I try to research various things online just how… ineffective Google and the other methods of today are becoming.
I’m all about improving my life as well as others, and Google is still epic- we just have to make sure we understand the machine and are using it properly! There is still some epic things we can discover on Google- for example it can be used to discover books on various topics.
Overall though we must be careful when using this platform because there are people writing SEO-focused articles that are gaming the Google system without providing real value to us.
Unfortunately Google is not yet capable of weeding out these articles, though I hope that one day Google will become more effective in its abilities so that it can provide to all of us for the better.
In the meantime conducting real research on any subject whether for entertainment or improving your life is still difficult, even with the advent of useful technologies like Google.
It’s important to do your research right, otherwise you may not find the desired answer- or worse get the wrong answer, but think that it is the right answer….