Sweden – the home of ABBA, IKEA, and it’s meatballs. They’re known for other things too: being neutral during the 2nd world war; a host of movie stars come from there; their ability to switch from left-hand traffic to right-hand traffic in the space of a single day without any fatalities; and to me their most famous face is Henrik Larsson. However, more recently they have got themselves into a spot of bother due to their use of the word “ogooglebar”. Er, what? In plain old English, for you non-Swedish speakers, “ogooglebar” translates to “ungoogleable”.
In the Language Council of Sweden’s annual list of new Swedish words, they wanted to include “ogooglebar”, which – surprise, surprise – Google wasn’t too happy about. You see “ogooglebar” is defined as “something that cannot be found in search engines”. But Google, being Google, wanted the definition to be along the lines of “something that cannot be found in a Google search.”
In order to appease the Google overlords, and to not get themselves involved in a lengthy legal battle, over the use of a harmless word, the Language Council just removed it. However, this word got me thinking: are there certain things that we’re still unable to find in a search engine?
Making yourself Ungoogleable
Like me, you’ve probably encountered a time when you’re trying to find something or some information on a topic – for me it was the back catalog of an indie band that I grew up listening to – and yielded zero to crappy results. But this has only happened to me twice – both times when I was searching for information on slightly obscure and less popular topics. So, am I surprised by the lack of the results? No. Frustrated, that I couldn’t find what I wanted? Sure.
Unlike my failed attempts to find what I wanted – because what I wanted just didn’t exist – believe it or not there are companies and regular folk out there who are deliberately trying to make themselves “ungoogleable”. Now, I agree that regular people – those that have no interest in being online and want their privacy to remain that way – are more than entitled to do that. However, for a company to make themselves hard to find? I bet there are a ton of business owners who would scream at the thought.
I’ve never started or run a business – unless you count my gardening business I had as a kid with my mate? – but my parents did and I know how hard it can be to be noticed and be successful. However, when my folks owned their business this was pre-search engine craziness so back than it was all word of mouth. Now it’s not easy, but it’s probably slightly easier since we’re able to conveniently search for what we want from the comfort of our living rooms, whilst on a bus, or walking down the street.
So to hide yourself from search engines? Madness.
Yes, the heading is as you read it: -isq. It’s not a typo. As I’m sure you’re aware by prefixing a word with a hyphen in a search engine, it will omit that word from the results. This can be used to your advantage when you’re conducting a detailed search. But, and get this, there aren’t just companies out there in the webisphere that have chosen to make themselves difficult to find, there are bands too…
“If you want to hear about us you’ll need to try just a little bit harder” says -isq member Irene Serra.
To be fair the Internet has been a curse for the music industry – most notably for the giant multi-billion dollar companies such as Warners and SonyBMG – but it’s been a blessing for the indie labels and the “do-it-yourself” bands. They now have a multitude of free mainstream channels, namely social media, in which to broadcast themselves. But to openly state that you want to make your band difficult to find online. Hmmm. Quite frankly, I consider them idiots.
If I want to hear more about you, I HAVE to try harder? Now, unless their music is good enough to warrant this type of arrogance – which it isn’t – then no. I’m an Internet user. I want to be spoon fed the information I desire ASAP.
I’m not blind to the fact that is most likely their shtick: to be “ungoogleable”. But I’m from the era where Prince changed his name to a symbol. Yes, people talked about it – more often than not in negative terms, until the truth came out as to why he did it – so it can be argued that it worked for him. However, Prince was already an established artist and back then Google was just a research project. Would it work now? Probably not.
In my mind the thought of a company, or an artist who spends all that time and money on branding to create a product then makes it awkward to find really is the brainchild of a moron. There is nothing clever about it at all. So if being “ungoogleable” is what you crave, then go on ahead. Although once they realize how stupid this gimmick is and their idea falls flat on its face – by now they must realize that putting speech marks around their name actually makes them “Googleable” – they’ll certainly be the first to moan about it.