If You Google 'About the Author,' You Get Tom Friedman's Bio

abouttheauthor_330.jpg

This delightful tidbit about the strange inner workings of Google's black box comes courtesy of W.W. Norton's Brendan Curry, who tweeted today that he'd serendipitously discovered this backdoor to the mustachioed author's official bio page.

"Accidentally searched for 'about the author' on Google. First result? Thomas L. Friedman's official bio," Curry wrote. "Now THAT's SEO."

I got curious, then. Was Friedman's position at the top of the rankings, in fact, search engine optimization? Looking at the source code, I have to reluctantly conclude that Farrar, Straus, and Giroux have done nothing untoward to make Friedman's bio rise to the top. They didn't stuff the (exceptionally long) bio with the word author or do anything aside from naming the page on which the bio sits, "About the Author."

Which leads me to the conclusion that this is not an SEO trick, but a reflection of how many people have linked to Tom Friedman's bio because they love or hate him. All of which should serve as a good reminder to every online writer: Google doesn't understand the irony in your links.

UPDATE! Gizmodo's Mat Honan (aka my friend Mat) also wrote to me to note something fascinating. If you Bing, err... Bing search, 'About the Author,' Thomas Friedman's not even on the first page of results. I also tried DuckDuckGo and Friedman was nowhere to be found there, either. So, what's up with that? Honestly, I have no idea why this would be a Google-only phenomenon.
Presented by

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Technology

Just In