If you're just a casual Internet user, you probably think the search results that Google delivers are very good, sometimes even excellent, well most of the time anyway.
It's even hard to watch a television soap or movie these days without somebody saying I googled this or I googled that and got these amazing results.
However, if you're somebody like me an experiencing computer/Internet user with experience in running multiple websites, then Google can be an extremely frustrating and poor search engine that delivers an abundance of bizarre and poor results.
The casual Internet user probably thinks that Google simply delivers what is available, and what it doesn't simply doesn't exist on the World Wide Web. That isn't true, because Google has become an extremely fussy/poor search engine that simply doesn't like displaying young or small sites, instead favouring big-name websites that have many years of age on their side.
Also add the fact that Google's Panda and Penguin (and other) search engine algorithm updates have wiped out thousands if not millions of small independent websites who "violated" their guidelines, their organic search results have been getting thinner and thinner over the last several years.
It can't be easy being a search engine, especially when there are literally millions of websites on the World Wide Web, many of them offering the same advice and products, et cetera, but then again when you're one of the richest companies in the world, with thousands of the brainiest computer geeks working for your company, you'd expect a search engine to be a lot smarter than simply displaying established aged websites with hundreds/thousands of links to their name, while practically ignoring the rest.
But that's exactly what Google does.
Google is essentially both a free and paid for search engine. It makes its money by selling ad space to Webmasters which allows them to have their ad displayed (known as AdWords) when anybody searches for a particular search term (example, cheap women's shoes). Any time a user clicks on an ad within Google search engine, they are then redirected to that particular site, and in turn Google earns a small fee.
Google's organic search results are basically websites that have been crawled and indexed by a Google bot, and displayed on the left-hand side of the website below the paid ads.
Google's paid search results can in themselves be poor or misleading, but since Google needs to make its billions every year and anybody with a website can sign up and pay to have their ad displayed via AdWords that's to be expected.
I myself have used AdBlock Plus for the last several years to block those annoying Google (and other) ads which means I only see Google's organic search results, or at least I do when I'm using my home computer.
It's those organic search results that have become increasingly poor over the last several years, or I should say increasingly in favour of big named websites with age and backlinks on their side.
That means there can be thousands or even millions of websites that never see the light of day, because Google search engine algorithm has a bizarre/ridiculous system of ranking sites.
Let's Take a Closer Look at Google's Organic Search Results
Okay, so I'm going to search for PLAY:1 Wireless Speaker, which is one of the most popular compact wireless speakers on the market at the present moment. For this, I'm going to be using google.co.uk as I am a British citizen and want to find British websites that sell this product. The search term I'll be typing into Google is "Buy PLAY:1 Wireless Speaker" which will indicate to Google that I want to buy this product. I know this particular product is stocked by most UK websites that sell consumer electronics, so the results should be extensive and good.
The 1st page results are as followed at the time of publishing this article:
1. Sonos.com (available to buy with UK delivery).
2. Currys.co.uk (available to buy with UK delivery).
3. Amazon.co.uk (available to buy with UK delivery).
4. Johnlewis.com (available to buy with UK delivery).
5. Richersounds.com (available to buy with UK delivery).
6. Whathifi.com (review site).
7. Expertreviews.co.uk (review site).
8. Trustedreviews.com (review site).
9. Cnet.com (review site).
10. Theguardian.com (review site).
As you can see the 1st 5 results are perfectly acceptable, though Google has only listed big established websites. The next 5 results from 6th to 10th are review sites, even though I didn't ask for a "review" in the search term. Not disastrous, but not the best results either.
Let's move on to page 2 and this is where things really start to go really bad for Google's search results.
The results on page 2 are as followed at the time of publishing this article:
1. Techradar.com (review site).
2. Bestbuy.com (US based website with no UK delivery).
3. Pocket-lint.com (review site).
4. Amazon.com (US based website with no UK delivery).
5. Gigaom.com (review site).
6. Pricespy.co.uk (UK-based comparison website).
7. Hotukdeals.com (UK-based comparison website).
8. ebay.co.uk (sold via private sellers).
9. Pcmag.com (review site).
10. Bhphotovideo.com (review site).
As you can see, Google search results has delivered two US-based websites that do not deliver to the United Kingdom. Even if these websites did deliver to the UK, it wouldn't be in the best interest for a British citizen to deal with these websites as returning products would be a total nightmare. The vast majority of the search results are also review sites, even though I wasn't looking for reviews. Most of the review sites are also U.S.A-based with US affiliate links not UK ones. And remember, this is just page 2. You would expect page 2 results to be of a very high and relevant quality. But that is most definitely not the case.
Page 3 (and onwards) search results are even worst, with more US and even Australian-based websites that do not deliver to the UK. These website clearly have their prices in US and Aussie dollars rather than British pounds, which should be a strong indication to any search engine that these results are not suitable or in the interest of British searchers, especially when you could be delivering dozens of British-based websites before them.
Just another prime example that Google is obsessed with big-name websites, even when their relevance is practically zero.
Okay, Let's Try a Non-Product Search
Back last year I came across an interesting blog called seo-theory.com, which perfectly describes how bad both Google and Bing have become when it comes to delivering relevant search results. It demonstrates how the world's 2 biggest search engines cannot deliver a simple blog, even though the search term being used is very specific and non-competitive.
Now both Google and Bing should be spoilt for choice when it comes to delivering relevant blog searches as blogging is very much alive and kicking with free blogs such as WordPress, Tumblr and Google's very own Blogger.
There are many different search terms that the Webmaster of seo-theory.com
used that resulted in bad results, but one that caught my attention was "My brothers and I swimming in the lake
" to which Google delivered an extremely poor single page from TripAdvisor as the number 1 result on both Google.co.uk and.com.
The entire results for "My brothers and I swimming in the lake" were extremely poor/borderline useless with not a single personal blog being displayed even though I'm 100% positive that such blogs do exist on the World Wide Web.
To be honest, it doesn't matter what you search for, whether it's a product or a specific term, Google will always deliver big-name websites, with the results being good, okay-ish and utterly piss poor. Google search will even occasionally deliver websites that are in the non-English-language, even though you've used an English search term. And since Google Translate has a long, long way to go until it becomes a decent translator, these websites will read like complete gobbledygook.
Google has very much become a search engine that thinks every Webmaster has to have a comprehensive, well written website with hundreds/thousands of articles or products, all backed up with high quality backlinks from established websites before it's considered a worthy and useful site that can get a fair ranking in its organic search results.
That's a totally ridiculous system that penalises small independent and new/learning Webmasters. Though it's very much a system that ensures Google will have plenty of customers for its AdWords ad platform for years to come.
Overall, I still think Google is a fairly decent search engine even though its results can be extremely frustrating or even borderline useless, especially in the last several years. There's no denying that Google needs to buck up its ideas and needs find a balance between paying the bills, fighting spam and delivering relevant search results.
Big established websites are just a tiny part of the Internet and it's the small (usually individually run) websites that can often deliver the best results and user experience. Google needs to recognise this because it search engine and the Internet will become a very boring and predictable place if things continue as they are.