Mike Siwek Lawyer MI Explained

February 24th, 2010
by Dustin Woodard

To better explain Wired magazine’s reference to mike siwek lawyer mi searches, I created this experimental blog post. Wired’s excellent article on Google’s algorithm links off to the search phrase: “mike siwek lawyer mi”, which sends you off to Google’s search results page for that query.

The mike siwek search phrase was used as an example of how Google is superior to Bing. Here’s what wired wrote:

The top result connects to a listing for an attorney named Michael Siwek in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s a fairly innocuous search — the kind that Google’s servers handle billions of times a day — but it is deceptively complicated. Type those same words into Bing, for instance, and the first result is a page about the NFL draft that includes safety Lawyer Milloy. Several pages into the results, there’s no direct referral to Siwek.

The ironic part is that everyone who is reading the article gets a Google search page that is in no way superior to the Bing because the results have been flooded with coverage of the newly popular search.

Take a look at the current Top 10 Results for a “mike siwek lawyer mi” Google search:

  • Mike Siwek Lawyer Mi – What’s Hot (a result from Alexa.com hot urls)
  • Mike Siwek, Lawyer from Michigan, shows how Google dominates … (a blog post)
  • Mike Siwek, Lawyer from Michigan, shows how Google dominates (tweet meme for the blog post)
  • Siwek, Michael E. Attorney in Grand Rapids, Michigan MI (a crumby US Lawyers DB listing)
  • Mike Siwek Lawyer MI – Google Search Theory Torn Apart (another blog post)
  • Exclusive: How Google’s Algorithm Rules the Web | Magazine (the actual Wired Article this post is about)
  • google | Tumblr (a tumblr page that links to the Wired article)
  • High-Tech PR Blog >> Beyond the Hype: How Google works (a PR company blog post summary of the Wired article)
  • New Michigan law mandates safer cigarettes, but smokers complain (a newspaper article that quotes the Mike Siwek, the actual Michigan lawyer this whole query is about, but no way to contact Mike)
  • How Google’s Algorithm Rules the Web | B12 Solipsism (another blog post)

Of course, this isn’t fair to Google as the results when Steven Levy was writing the article were probably completely different. However, you would expect Mike Siwek’s site to show up shortly past the media mentions. Not so. Mike’s official law practice site didn’t show up until result 110 on page 11 of Google’s search results–a place where few searchers would dare take the time to navigate to and if they did find it, the listing description doesn’t even mention Mike Siwek, so it probably wouldn’t get clicked on:
Mike Siwek lawyer mi
The fact that this listing is so buried leads me to believe the search engine result that Google’s engineers were so proud of was result 4 that I list above, which is simply an address database site that is borderline spam and riddled with Google ads.
mike siwek mi lawyer listing
I count 28 different Google adsense ad listings if you include the next ads arrow tabbing, or 11 without the tabbing. No wonder Bing didn’t want to list this page! The only thing that is slightly impressive about this search is that Google thought to replace Mike Siwek with Michael Siwek.

I don’t mean to beat up on Google too much. I could certainly come up with many examples where Google’s algorithm is superior to Bing, but as an SEO consultant who is paid to constantly monitor the ugly flaws of search engine algorithms, I find this example of “Google’s algorithmic dominance” humorous & worry about the simple mindedness of Google’s top engineers when it comes to evaluating improvements in their algorithm.

Posted in Search | Comments (19)

19 Responses to “Mike Siwek Lawyer MI Explained”

  1. dustin Says:

    I should probably add that Google was probably quite familiar with the database page because its adsense crawlers obviously need to hit it from time to time, the site is using Google Custom search for its internal search engine, and it appears that the site submitted xml feeds to Google webmaster tools, but didn’t provide instructions to the feeds to other search engines (no robots.txt file).

    Oh – and for full disclosure, I met Lawyer Milloy our freshman year of college at the UW. Though he has had a great career in the NFL & sometimes lays down the law on opponents, he’s probably not the best attorney for Michigan law work.

  2. Mike Siwek Lawyer MI – Google Search Theory Torn Apart | eZeepeZee Says:

    [...] Happened to read this blog post which again says, while accepting the fact that Google search is great, ‘mike siwek layer [...]

  3. anonymous Says:

    Google’s search results for “Mike Siwek Lawyer MI” actually prove the effectiveness of Google’s algorithm. The majority of people entering this query recently have been interested in learning about Google, not in hiring Mike Siwek for legal work. It is sort of magical how Google has adapted to what our intentions are, even when the query remains the same.

  4. Be Like Mike Says:

    Arrived at your article it now ranks #2 and #3 for mike siwek layer mi. Great analysis – wonder why Wired or Google decided this was a good example? Must be a friend of one of the engineers?

    Also, did you read the other example in the article with the ladies middle name? Doesn’t seem like very sophisticated decisions to me – almost as bad as the “could my mother do this” examples used by too many CEOs.

  5. victoria Says:

    Very interesting, I was hoping that bing would be a useful search tool but it does seem very clunky and I think this shows it.

  6. Charlie Says:

    Your article is now #1. It is because it has so much Mike Siwek Lawyer Mi occurences ? If that was the case, then Google algorithm would not be so clever, because it means that it is more focused on trying to understand what the user is searching, than finding a relevant response. But maybe this page is relevant after all :) Unless I’m looking for the most famous lawyer in Mi., that is. It surely is for me since I’m typing this. OMG I’m getting a headache

  7. dustin Says:

    Charlie – I do see that this post is now #1 & 2. And after reviewing the results, I would say that it is the best result. Google could try to manually tweak the results to cover up the flaws that I document, but that isn’t how they work, and I applaud them for that.

    I do find it interesting that you went and registered Mike-Siwek-Lawyer-MI.com (with three hyphens, no less) and commented on my article hoping to gain a link back to your site. SEO is not that simple, but I’ll be curious to see how you do in Bing ;)

  8. Ruining Mike Siwek’s 15 minutes : Core Economics Says:

    [...] date. The Google result is now this page writing about the Wired article and the Bing result is a different one doing the same thing. The relevant result is now way down the page. So it’s all over for [...]

  9. dustin Says:

    Mike Siwek has been getting a lot of attention – some equating it with “Joe the Plumber” from the ’08 elections. Being the top result for the query in Google & Bing brought a lot of traffic to this blog post and I’ve seen a ton of activity amongst small SEO blogs hoping to rank for the query.

    If Mike Siwek happens to read this posting, please email me at dustin@ the domain of this site so I can get your reaction to your 15-minutes of fame (and put you in touch with press requests).

  10. Mike Siwek, Lawyer from Michigan, shows how Google dominates | Danwin: Dan Nguyen, in short Says:

    [...] “Mike Siwek” makes it the top result for the mike siwek lawyer mi. Dustin Woodward from Web Search Connoisseur points out that I screwed everything up. Maybe this link back to what might be Mr. Siwek’s original (albeit, unhelpful) listing will [...]

  11. sum guy Says:

    I think you’re missing the point with an unfair criticism of Google’s engine, by taking a dynamic entity like the web and trying to look at it staticly. Before the Wired article anybody looking for the lawyer Mike Siwek could have found him very easily through Google. By incorporating that search into their article they demonstrated the incredible adaptability of the Google engine. I don’t know who Mike Siwek is and don’t care. I wanted to know what was meant by that search term, and sure enough the first link I find explained it clearly. That’s good results.

  12. dustin Says:

    Sum Guy: Well put. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the first people to read the article, so I couldn’t document the results Google presented. However, after carefully examining the existing search result pages for Mike Siwek, the database site appears to be the only result on page 1 that Google could have been bragging about. For the reasons I list above, Bing wasn’t given a fair chance to crawl those pages (or it considered them spam because it is a very spammy result). Thus, I don’t think “Mike Siwek Lawyer MI” demonstrates Google’s dominance in any way other then changing Michael to Mike.

  13. charlie Says:

    Dustin, I actually registered the 3-hyphened website AFTER reading your post :) even though it gave me the idea to register it,as an experiment (notice there is no ads on the site). I know it’s not that simple :D Interestingly enough, with one post only, mike-siwek-lawyer-mi.com is still way below 50th position in Google & Bing. However, SEOmoz tells me : Found on Page #1, Position #2 in Yahoo / United States
    Yeah ! I’m gonna add some content slowly, and see how it goes. No backlinks,linking, nothing (except the nofollow here :) . Just (crappy) content. My goal is to see if it can make it to the top SERPs. So today I’m featuring a highly interesting post about poor mike siwek lawyer mi.

  14. dustin Says:

    Charlie – I can confirm the #2 position on Yahoo for the exact “Mike Siwek Lawyer MI” search phrase. That’s crazy! I thought Bing search replacing Yahoo search would be a bad thing, but maybe I’m wrong.

    I’ll keep an eye on your experiment as well to see how a single no-followed link to a keyword heavy domain performs. Thanks for keeping us posted.

  15. ishmael Says:

    Agree completely with commenter #3. Came here wanting to find out what the hell is “mike siwek lawer mi”, and got the answer, thank you very much. Adaptability FTW!

  16. Angela Says:

    You are discovering what internally we have been calling the wal-martification of the internet. Years ago our little humor site produced a fair amount of original content. After seeing most of the content show up on blogs stuffed with Google ads, and having those sites bury us in the rankings, most of the contributors became disheartened and went on to other stuff. Will Google make life simpler and more efficient – probably. Will Google make life better – that is a matter of opinion.

  17. Charlie Says:

    Things are not going very well for mike-siwek etc dot com : no significant progress. Today, ranking is back to #2 on yahoo after a significant drop last week (down to position 27 ! augh – this got me wondering) and +1 on google with #21. Still no backlinks, nothing. Only quality content :D. I’m not losing hope.
    Cheers

  18. john Says:

    Don’t you think that the example is still valid? at the time of publication, bing was returning results that had no correlation to the searchers intent, whereas the google results at least were in the ballpark?

  19. Thailandlawyers Says:

    I have always found Google results as most relevant and most effective

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