Who is googling? Evangelize or let it rest?


>For the past few days a lot of my brain juice has been focused on the website for Trafficking Culture project at the University of Glasgow. Developing content, thinking about functionality, so on and so forth. As they are paid to do, our design firm sent us a long message about Search Engine Optimization. My response was pretty much “we rock, don’t worry about it”, which is totally true. We aren’t going to have a problem at all. The people who know we exist are all waiting for the site anyway. You all will put links on your sites, right?

These are the antiquities-related terms people have used to find my site in the past two weeks:

  • buy/sell peruvian archeological items
  • moche pot sale
  • illicit trace antiquities south america
  • value peruvian antiquities
  • antiquity of south america
  • unreliable fake antiquities dealers
  • south american textile craft articles
  • antiquities south america
  • goverment auctions.pre columbian
  • market ecuador antiquities
  • class of antiquities
  • history of south american antiquities
  • nps monitors illicit antiquities trafficking arts and crafts
  • +Ecuadorian antiquities

Moche portrait vessel one eyeI really can only conclude that the people searching the web are people who are actively trying to buy and sell this stuff. This means that there is a good chance such people are going to stumble upon our site and I wonder if we should be thinking about how we appear to them. Maybe it shouldn’t matter at all, but the person who searched “unreliable fake antiquities dealers” has a story to tell that I would love to hear…somehow. Also there feels like there is some sort of opportunity to evangelize without being mean… almost a FAQ page for potential buyers and sellers where one takes them through the gravity and risk of it all. Nothing pushy, of course, I hate pushy, but just a decent amount of useful information for people who are contemplating getting into that scene from someone who doesn’t want their money.

I’m thinking specifically of a huge insert that I recently saw in the New York Observer: a multipage booklet from a dealer/auctioneer yammering on about how it is a great time to invest in buying antiquities. Despite what I feel emotionally (buying looted objects = bad!), objectively it is a really crap time to invest in antiquities and anyone who tells someone otherwise is a liar. Sure, in the past you could make bank off of antiquities, but they are just a poor investment, especially for small timers. Check the news: court cases out the wazoo, countries demanding returns, increasing law and regulation, television shows that make out US-based looters to be total trash, evidence that the bubble of the larger art market is deflating… It just isn’t a good place for one’s money.

Moche portrait vesselI imagine someone out there who is totally into ancient Peru being told (by someone that want their money) that antiquities are a great investment. I imagine that someone turning to the internet for information and just not really finding something that set it out in a way that is meaningful to them… that isn’t all archaeology preachy and full of difficult terminology (oh “context”, my complicated lover). But then again, how do I craft something that is meaningful?

That said, I’m not sure where that could work into the structure of things or even if it is appropriate for the site. Maybe it is something I should work up for my own site and see if anyone finds it. Maybe I am just being silly and this is neither useful nor appropriate.