Sep 13, 2006

[The Web] Technical Support

In line with recent frustrations with my company's IT Department, I thought it might be interesting to try a few related searches in the area to see what comes up on Google.

I tried the generic search query [technical support] just to see what I'd get, and the results were actually pretty interesting. Here are the sites I received in response to my search in the order they appeared at the time of this article:
  1. Microsoft Technical Support (
  2. Technical Support & Documentation - Cisco Systems (
  3. Home Page >> (
  4. Apple - Support (
  5. Dell Support (
  6. QUALCOMM's Eudora Technical Support (
  7. Support - Semantic Corp. (
  8. Adobe - Support (
  9. HelpOnThe.Net: Tech Support Guy (
  10. BNA TEchnical Support (

Now given that Google's results are based around the PageRank system, which determines the relvance of a search result based on the number of links to that page by other pages of equally high link ranking, this makes the search results the most relevant based on what people are linking to.

Given my search, this can lead you to interpret the results in several ways. Since most people are linking to the Microsoft Technical Support page, it means that Microsoft Products are the most linked to because (1) they have the most number of users, (2) they have the most issues or (3) most support sites refer you back to them in order to resolve your problems. I'll not pass judgement over the results just yet - but it does make you think, right? It certainly amuses me, hahaha!

What is also interesting is the other products on the list. Given these same possible explanations for why they appear so highly in the search results, it makes you consider just how many people are utilizing products from these developers like Cisco and Netscape.

Netscape surprised me a lot since they don't have majority market share in the browser market, and yet they're highly ranked. A lower market share would eliminate explanation #1, so that leads me to think they have a lot of issues? If it's a question of users, why doesn't Mozilla Firefox come up this high on the search results list rather than Netscape? The amusement continues...

Having Apple and Dell on the list makes sense from a user support perspective because of the loyal following for Mac products and of course the iPod line. Dell is number one PC manufacturer in the US so naturally they'd trigger a lot of support links as well. The same logic follows for Eudora as an alternative email client to MS Outlook, Symantic because of their anti-virus software (Norton) and Adobe because of their large product suite.

The point of this article - a short lesson on what your search results might actually mean. While we normally see search engines as a means to an end, just something we pass through before we get to the real information that we want, looking at Google search results can also reveal a lot about our behavior in this technically-driven world. Our search results reflect what we're linking to, hence what we're reading and what we tend to look for. It might be because of sheer number of users or in this case, the sheer number of potential problems.

Think about it.

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