I don’t do it very often, but this week I’m having a good old-fashioned rant on the blog.
What’s got me going – Google. Or more precisely the search results.
Now, with my business hat on, I’ve been aware of the changing face of the search results. Doing my research for my last webinar, I performed a number of searches to illustrate what’s been happening and I was struck by the number of times Ebay and Amazon appeared on page 1.
But the full effect really hit me this weekend when I was searching for some items for myself.
We moved house earlier this year and are just now finishing decorating one of the bedrooms. I’m looking for a couple of cushions so naturally turned to Google.
As I browsed the search results, clicked on a few pages and tweaked my search phrase I became more and more frustrated. Page 1 was inevitably filled with ebay, amazon and the same few high street names – nearly all selling the same designs which weren’t what I was looking for.
Then there were the other marketplace type sites like shopstyle.co.uk showing, you guessed it, those same designs.
And it seems that the more I visit these sites – just to find they don’t sell what I want – the more Google decides to plonk them in front of me because “you visited this site on xxxxx”.
Some sites appeared more than once on page 1 and overall the diversity of the search results was very poor. Small niche sites were absolutely nowhere.
A quick check on Bing shows similar results.
I eventually found what I wanted in the Google Shopping results – the sponsored (.e. paid for) adverts which are getting more and more prominent. I checked it later and the page for this product ranks at position 40 on Google.co.uk It has the relevant keywords in the title and description but Google placed it well below a whole load of irrelevant pages from bigger stores.
Google introduced a major update last month – called Hummingbird – which aims to be much smarter in interpreting search intent and return more relevant pages. If these are the results, then I’m not impressed.
And if this is the future, there are significant implications for small businesses trying to get visibility for their products online. I’ll be looking at these in more detail in a future blog post.
In the meantime, I’ll get off my soapbox and finish the decorating…….