Google certainly makes searching easy for us, doesn’t it? All we have to do is type in the first letter and suddenly the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is pulled up, revealing the results for whatever is currently displayed in the search bar. For example, when I type “f” for “Finland,” Google automatically displays the results for the “F” SERP – of course, it’s dominated by Facebook. Even when I continue my search, “Finl,” Google updates the SERP to show the result for what I would eventually type: “Finland.” It’s pretty convenient, I suppose, but there’s also a darker side to this situation.
How is Google changing the game? Manipulating which key phrases are searched.
To be blunt, Google has started to take over. I sometimes imagine Google as an older sibling who thinks he is looking out for our best interests a but really, doesn’t always understand what we want. And all HE wants is our allowance. Especially for those whose jobs are to help companies rank for particular keywords (like us at Evolve), it doesn’t help that Google is completing searchers’ sentences, thus leading them to specific SERPs. This truly might seem insignificant to some of you, or anyone who is unaware of how much companies rely on the analytics pulled from Google, but the reality is that Google’s new suggestions can cause users to word their searches differently than they would have if those additional search queries were not visible. For example, when I search for Edgar Allan Poe’s birthplace, Google offers a list of other suggestions: Edgar Allan Poe Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe Birth, etc.
Has its own best interest in mind.
I also want to bring attention to the fact that Google often shoves its own properties in the way of organically ranking terms. Local search is all good and well (ok, we love it), but it can sometimes take up half of the page. YouTube (which Google acquired in 2006) is often thrown into the mix as well. Again, this might not seem like a big deal until you realize that it seems a bit shady for the Goog to drive traffic to its own sites, rather than making room for other deserving sites to rank organically. It just seems strange… and kind of selfish.
Hiding Results of Gmail Users.
Let’s not forget that Google recently decided to obscure the searches of anyone logged into his or her Gmail account. What this means is that site owners will never know that I came to their site, nor which terms I Googled in order to get there, since I rarely log out of my Gmail account. To SEO experts, this is devastating. Such useful insight could reveal which terms were most frequently inputted, as well as other interesting data – like which pages were visited, and for how long. Suddenly this information is stripped from us, seemingly for no reason. We love the Goog. Ya hear that, G? We love you. How could we not? It makes our job possible. But lately, it’s been making our job sort of impossible, and we can’t help but wonder what Google will become in the next 5 years. Let me point out that Google is not the only search engine that is changing the game. Yahoo and Bing will show the results for “New York” if you type “New Yrok.” Maybe this is just the natural evolution of this industry, but the shadier tactics (like hiding the data of logged-in Gmail users) isn’t cool.
What ways have you found Google to be manipulating/ sneakily changing the world of Search?