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Guest blog: Jeff Velis

As a second generation Greek and member of Chi Phi Fraternity, should I be offended that Google provides me search results about University Greek life vs Greek heritage?

Spending a good deal of my life as a marketer in the local SEO world I’m very familiar with how Google’s algorithm works using PageRank as a measure of determining the importance of pages and subsequently serving them up when performing a search based upon keywords using your search history.

So when I asked the simply question in search of some heritage:

“what’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say greek”

Google served up a plethora of pages associating ‘greek’ with ‘greek life’ and not that of my greek origin. Now this is not to say that Zac Efron might not be considered a Greek God in all his chiseled glory, and the results are certainly enough to make one go down the rabbit hole, but it’s not the results I had in mind.

It really wasn’t until I changed my search from ‘greek’ to ‘greece’ did I begin to fulfill my original search intent. And it was then that I found people answering my original question.

For me, when I personally answer the question, I think about family. Our greek family is very close knit. Growing up we spent many a holiday and Sunday playing with the cousins, smelling the home cooking of Yia Yia and getting pinched on the cheeks by Theia. Even today when I walk into Mezes Greek Grill and smell the lamb on the rotisserie, my mind harkens back to those special days.

For others, and I am optimistic it’s from their travels or museum visits or teachings, they conjure up a vision of the landscape:

  • golden domes
  • white buildings
  • blue sky
  • wine-dark sea

Another favorite is the olive:

  • firm-bodied and sour-sweet, lightly covered in oil and sweet from the sun

And finally, it’s the people:

  • women walking mountain trails with their small goats
  • Greek men telling tales
  • people, of all walks of life, celebrating with Ouzo

I’m proud of the Greek Life at the University of Michigan and proud to be of Greek Heritage whether we find our Greek Gods on Mount Olympus or on the big screen.


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