Two Ways in Which Google Really Messed up the Search Results

Google is always striving to give their search engine users the best possible user experience. Over the years they took countless steps to prevent poor quality web pages from showing up in their search results.

Unfortunately, there were two ways in which they got it wrong – big time. And it affects both search engine users and website owners negatively.

Here are two ways Google messed up its search results…

1. Insisting that long form content is better:

google search results, search engine optimization, poor user experience, lisech, marketing strategy, consultingOver the years, the proverbial “bar” has been raised, time and time again. More and more, Google’s perception of “quality content” was linked to content length.

In 2008, you could write a decent 250-word article and have it ranked.

By 2012, it was 500 words. The it went up to 800, 1,200, 2,000…

Last time we checked, it was hovering around the 2,400-word mark.

So what is the big issue?

Well, depending on what you are looking for, the actual answer to your question may be relatively simple. It may be something that can in fact, be explained in a few hundred words.

But Google wants 2,400.

So, what happens?

The content creators start filling up the article with needless fluff – all of which you have to wade through before you get to the actual bit you want…

And sometimes, the actual information you want is not even there.

For some reason, when you search for say, how to boil an egg, you have to wade through a whole section about the different types of eggs, the different sizes, how the chickens are raised, etc.

(arbitrary example – we didn’t check, but we found many similar examples over the past year or so)

All because Google INSISTS that a 2,400-word article is better than the actual 200 words you need.

The sad reality is that, if the blogger or webmaster doesn’t GIVE Google those 2,200 words of “filler content”, the actual answer is deemed to be “of low quality”.

And no, they cannot put the actual answer at the top of the page, because then you would leave the page too soon, which again indicates to Google that the page content is of low quality.

So here is what happened:

Google, in its “infinite wisdom”, had probably wasted BILLIONS of hours of people searching the internet (the time they wasted wading through “filler content”).

Just imagine how many searches, from all over the world, resulted in someone having to spend a few minutes scrolling through an article to find what they need. Now do the math.

What Google doesn’t understand – in its “infinite wisdom” (it seems to have an ego the size of a universe) is that when you ask a specific question, you actually want a specific answer. How you frame the question is supposed to tell the search engine what you want to know, and what you already know, or what should be irrelevant.

But no, “long form content is better”. Google knows. Apparently you do NOT understand your own question, or what you need to know before you are allowed to find it.

It gets worse…

2. Google has determined that a big website with lots of “authority” MUST BE better than yours – for ANY question. Of course. it makes absolute sense, right?

It is difficult to even guess how many times we have done a search, only to be taken to a page on some big website which says: “No results found for your query”.

Try searching for real estate to rent in a small town, or start searching for software for a very specific, unusual task. You will run into the same problem.

But really…

Google is supposed to be the 900-lbs gorilla in the room, with the best algorithm on the planet and an ego as big as the universe…

(apparently not without reason)

Can it REALLY not figure out that it is sending you to a page that DOES NOT have the answer you need?

So much for making the lives of webmasters a living hell in their quest to “improve user experience”. We have to keep jumping through ever higher and higher hoops, and still, in its “infinite wisdom”…

But here we are.

Note: We first became aware of this problem more than a decade ago. And with all of the advancements made in the Google algorithm’s “infinite wisdom”…

They were unable to fix this ONE problem.

Apparently, according to “Google logic”, it is better for you to visit a big store that doesn’t have what you want, than to visit a small shop that has exactly what you want.

Bigger is better, right?

But before you say we are simply ranting (which we are – conceded), let’s see how this affects you as the owner of a local business website:

This is how it affects YOU:

1. Due to Google’s silly insistence on long form content, you now have to write a boatload of content of insane lengths if you want to be seen in the search results.

Imagine you want to start a blog – for your small business website – giving simple tips to the public to prove your expertise.

Instead of writing 300 words at a time, you have to write 2,400 – or somewhere around there – to be seen.

So either you will be spending 8 times more time writing it, or you will be paying someone 8 times more to write it.

2. Due to Google’s silly insistence on “bigger is better”, there are many types of websites which are just about impossible to rank in the search results.

For instance – in 2010, Peter built a website for a local real estate agent. A tiny website, listing three properties at the time. Within three weeks, it was getting visitors from Google.

Today, that same website would probably not even be indexed in Google. Good luck to that real estate agent with getting visitors from Google. Either you pay up (toll fees?) for listing your properties on a big website, or go home.

So what can you do about it?

Ditch Google, and use social search engines:

There are two distinct differences between Google, and the search engines you find on Youtube, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.

1. On Google, the 900-lbs gorilla knows you are just passing through. That’s why they throw up the sponsored listings first to make some money before you can find what you really want.

On social search engines, the aim is to keep you on the platform – so they will do their best to give you EXACTLY what you want. And not just ten results like on the Google home page, but an endless list of results, or as many as they can find.

Can you spot the difference?

2. Unlike the Google search results page where the algorithm in its “infinite wisdom” gives you ten results with very few choices, social search results lets you filter your results to narrow them down.

On Youtube, for instance, you can not only filter by results type (channel, video, playlist, etc.), but also by video length, upload date, and more.

In short, Youtube makes it a lot easier for you to find exactly what you want – right down to only selecting videos of 4 minutes or less in length, or even going after Youtube shorts.

Plus, in their quest to keep you on the platform for longer, they have all different kinds of ways to suggest other videos you may also like.

Which, on the flip side (for you as the webmaster), means that there is simply a LOT more opportunities to be seen on Youtube, even as a brand new channel.

Not to mention that, for short tips, you have Youtube shorts – forget about 2,400-word articles.

In conclusion, I have to ask:

Can you believe that Google and Youtube are operated by the same company?

Fair enough, Google’s job is to send you to other websites, while Youtube’s job is to keep you on Youtube for as long as possible.

But how can Youtube get it right in so many ways, while Google gets it so wrong?

While that answer to that may elude us for most of eternity, you know that your time and/or money is likely to get you better results on Youtube.

From a purely business point of view, it just makes more sense.