A Google Real-Time Search Story – LeBron James Had a Parotidectomy, Too

This post is about a good deed.

It's also one more blog post in the tome being written about the social media news that businesses dread hearing:  The dot-com days of building a web site and having people come are over.  The finest site on the planet, chock full of the most carefully selected keywords, will no longer bring traffic in a world where search engines feature recent and real-time content

According to Google on real-time search, "Whether it's an eyewitness tweet, a breaking news story or a fresh blog post, you can find it on Google right after it's published on the web."

"Right after it's published" would not include the home page of a business or corporate Web site built in, say, 2003.

This post is also a study of real-time search results.

Here's a screenshot of Google search results taken on February 10, 2010, at 3:45 EST using the search term "parotidectomy."

Google search results for "parotidectomy" 
This search engine results page, or SERP, contains no social media links – no blog posts, no Twitter tweets, no Facebook fan page updates, no YouTube videos.  One listing mentions "Surgical Video," but the video doesn't work.

I've been to all those pages.  And probably a hundred more.  This post is also about corporate and CEO transparency. I'm scheduled for a parotidectomy on Monday.  I did what most people do when they want to know about the unknown:  I Googled it

May I be as tough as LeBron James.  I know I'll have a large scar like his at first. A thin, half-mooned shaped one later would be nice.  I wrote how I felt about parotidectomy, parotid surgery, the risks, and the scar on my CEO blog.

The scar is where the story of the good deed begins.

Since even a kidney can be removed through laparoscopy, I was hoping a way had been found to reach up to my neck, snip the salivary gland, deflate, be done with it.  Ah, that parotid gland – a facial nerve runs through it. One snip of the facial nerve and I'm an eye-hanging drooler. The facial incision is as long and winding as the Tour de France to give the surgeon room to work.

Room to work on the face - my face…  Agh, how would I look afterwards?!  I typed "parotidectomy scar" into Google Images.  Feel free to look for yourself, but I’m not including a link to, or a screenshot of, that scary page.  Anyway, one guy’s scar had healed nicely.  I clicked on the image to get a closer look.  It took me to a blog.

The guy got diagnosed with a tumor in his parotid gland and, with a forthcoming parotidectomy, decided to let his friends and family know "what was happening," by keeping a blog:  Poked and Parotid – Journal of My Parotid Tumor

That was in 2003.  On the Epilogue page, the last update was 2008.

On the Contact Andy page, I read, “If you have questions or want to send email for any reason, you can…  Over the years, I have gotten emails from all over the world and try to respond as quickly as possible.  Please feel free to write any time."

Feeling so frightened, so alone, knowing I was certainly looking at a dead site with a dead email address, I still found myself reaching out to a complete stranger, online at that, sobbing, sending an email to "Andy."

Andy wrote back.

I have his permission to share that story and who he is:  Andy Little.

Whether he had replied to me or not, humanity, bravery and kindness permeate the pages of Andy Little's blog.

Of all the sites I've studied about parotid surgery, Andy’s is the most valuable to me and the one to which I return for answers and comfort.

It was also one of the hardest to find. 

Let's change that and pass his kindness and good deed forward.

And let's test social media and Google's offer – "you can find it on Google right after it's published on the web."

Okay, basic social media tools:  blog posts, Twitter tweets, Facebook page updates, LinkedIn status updates, YouTube videos.

This is a blog post on parotidectomy.  I’ve carefully used Brian Clark’s SEO copywriting guidelines to create the text (link to authoritative sources - Brian Clark - check).  Then I’ll use the knowledge and expertise compiled in Handshake 2.0’s Social Media category to create Twitter tweets, Facebook page updates, and LinkedIn status updates. 

Hmm, the YouTube video.  I'm still thinking about it, but even I may have found a limit to my CEO transparency.  Truly, if you want to know what's happening to me, read Andy.  He's got the whole process chronicled. 

I’m counting on Google’s real-time search and a 2010 social media face lift – ooh, wish I hadn't used that term – to a 2003 blog, last updated in 2008, to give real-time help to people like I am who type their fears into Google.  I hope the ones who need him find Andy.  His scar looks good.

And Andy writes back.

Added later:  For those who may be interested, I made a "portal" page linking to posts about my experience with parotid surgery, including photos of the progress of my own scar's healing.

Three Months in Flight for SmartCollegeVisit
Beaux Arts Galleria in the Spring


  1. Anne, your story and Andy’s make a good story. It’s one that offers hope and demonstrates the kindness of strangers and the power of Google. Good luck on Monday!

  2. Hi, this is Andy. I am very flattered by Anne’s kind words, but as I’ve said in our correspondence this is really a small effort for me, but one that is satisfying.

    I generally get a few emails a month and am sure to always answer back quickly since I know that if people have reached out to me, they probably could use the connection.

    One thing that does fascinate me though is that I hear from people all over the world and I can see from Google Analytics that I get visitors from many far flung places. In the last month I had 274 visits (I average 80% new visitors) from 23 countries, and 54 countries over the past 9 months including Singapore, Iran, Malaysia, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Turkey, etc.

    Although I appreciate Anne painting me as an altruist, I have to say I gain a lot from just being able to know that scores of people read my story every month. Again, it’s a very small thing that I do and if some of those people are helped by my story, then just knowing that gives me much more reward than the effort involved.

    Ha, as I read this over, now it sounds like I vainly track my site analytics! Maybe just a little bit – the map of visitor locations is what really intrigues me.

  3. Andy, I can’t thank you enough for our correspondence. I have so appreciated your willingness for me to share your story in terms of Google search results and its business implications. I added to the discussion here:


    I continue to feel awe for the site you created, I continue to return to it, even on the eve of my own parotidectomy, even though I’ve read every word more than once, and I respect beyond words that you perform a random act of kindness willingly, as often as someone reaches out to you.

    And your professional ethics, even though the relationship you have with me is Internet-born, random, and not professional, astound me. Perhaps it’s the plane flight phenomenon when people share their closest kept secrets with the person they’re seated side-by-side with, but I have told you in emails of my fear and sorrow. You have revealed none of it, as if you were bound by the confidentiality of counselor, attorney, or priest. My friends, family, and colleagues care deeply about me and about what happens to me. But no one knows what it’s really like. Except you. Thank you for being an invaluable, true, true-blue confidante.

  4. I created a post to serve as a sort of “portal” for the posts I wrote about my own parotid surgery with links to photos of my incision and developing scar. Each of those posts links to other sites that might be of value.

    Here’s the link to that post:


    Best wishes to anyone who will or has undergone a parotidectomy. My two cents? Write Andy. He writes back.

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