Whether we like it or not, Google and other search engines dominate our experience of the web. Until the semantic web is a reality or other significant advances are made in how we search for and find information and products on the Internet, we are subject to the mindsets and rules of others.
Google Instant is a recent function where the search engine uses smart algorithms to predict what it is you are searching for. Mostly this is useful. However, there is a blacklist of certain words which when typed, halt the instant search function. Why does this matter for book titles? If your book title starts with a blacklisted word then Google Instant is turned off as soon as it works out what you're typing. No suggestions are offered. This means a potential reader or purchaser need to know the exact name of your book to find it. This limitation doesn't happen on booksellers' online pages - at the moment.
Test out the following on Google search:
- what happens when you search for Cathy Yardley's book, Ravish: The Awakening of Sleeping Beauty
- any book on the topic of lesbian issues; fiction or otherwise
I can see what Google is trying to achieve by avoiding inappropriate search suggestions for any children on line. However, there are wider implications not only for Google Instant but also for their SafeSearch option. Did you know potentially offensive (to Google) pages are removed from the initial search options once enter is hit?
If you are researching topics where the words may be blacklisted you can get round this by using smart searching terms, like using quotes to search for exact phrases ("catcher in the rye") or being more clear about what to include and exclude in the search (catcher+rye -baseball -farm).
In the meantime, choosing a book title where the first word is not on a search blacklist may be a good sales and marketing strategy.