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The Most Useless Result Google Won’t Stop Showing You

Google search relevance and curated search results pages; a think piece

Let’s take a relatively buzzy business topic of the moment: say, “customer experience.” Now let’s go ahead and Google it. On a laptop, there are seven ads — four above the fold, three below — and a series of results ranging from “What is customer experience?” to a McKinsey CEO guide to customer experience (that’s a leap!) to a July 2018 Forbes declaration that “Customer experience is the new brand.” (Side note: Someone should make a list of everything that’s been called “the new brand” in the past decade.)

The results are all over the map, and so are the ads — some are comprehensive guides to customer experience, and some are just leading you to pages that basically explain what the concept is. The ecosystem here is messy, and Google is telling you that there’s a possibility of 4,170,000,000 total results. In a world where people barely have time to cook dinner, who’s got time to find the gold in 4 billion results?

Related: Follow the path of a keyword search for a lesson in search relevance.

What’s the Deal?

Why does Google even show this results statistic? It’s meaningless to the searcher, yet Google prides itself on search relevance. Here’s another gem: Google says there are more than 1 billion restaurants near me. Hmmm.

Restaurants near me

Those of us in the marketing space have known about this challenge for years. Does ranking organically really mean getting into the top 0.00000024% of Google results? Probably OK if the search term is your brand name. But if you are all about customer experience, is this possible?

What about running some ads? It’s a $100 billion ad market. Must be working for the advertisers. Well, maybe for some of them. The reality is that the average Google Ads account wastes about 76% of its dollars on poor search terms. So if ranking organically is a huge challenge and ads can be risky, how do we compete on this platform that dominates search? Buyers love it (~6 billion searches per day). They’re shopping, researching solution providers, evaluating partners, and looking for good lunch spots. We want to be there.

The Moonshot Idea: Curated Search

Google loves moonshots, so let’s apply the idea here. What if Google, with its piles of cash, bought Wikipedia and merged the two? Bam: curated search. Experts in your search term curate the results for you to ensure search relevance. Yes, “experts” is a loosely defined term, but that’s the nature of a moonshot. What if you picked the top 100 search categories and somehow captured unbiased input from people who really know what results are the best for your search? That would be powerful. Right now, we are getting the results from those companies that are the best at Google Ads, content, and web development. Just because they are on the first page doesn’t mean they make a good Reuben sandwich.

Google might be getting there with reviews, but we have a long way to go.

For Now, a More Realistic Idea: Learn the Building Blocks

For as many digital agencies as we have in the world currently, a lot of people still have no clue what they’re doing with Google (see the 76% stat above).

“Doing Google right” can be daunting, but it actually comes down to three things:

  • A Google-friendly website: Meaning you have to play by their rules. Think responsive, easily indexed, and with the proper metadata. (This also means keeping up with constant changes to the algorithm.)
  • Fresh, keyword-optimized, meaningful content: The good stuff.
  • A smart ad strategy: A mix of the right keywords and negative keywords, super-relevant ads, and landing pages that fit perfectly with the keyword and ad that landed you there.

If you can do these three things right consistently, we can’t promise you first page for everything, but your rankings and ad placements will be better. Google has flaws at scale, for sure, but its mission is still to put relevant content in front of those seeking information.

The best way we can maximize Google for all is to have more businesses understand what their “Google strategy” needs to be — and hey, by the way, if you Google “strategy,” one hit on Page 1 will be this October 2017 Forbes ditty “What the Heck Is a Strategy Anyway?”. What is a strategy, you ask? It’s an approach to your business that works at driving it forward. And you can do that with Google if you get the building blocks right.

Contact me to find out how D Custom can help you be better.