How To Compare Search Results – Ensure Proper Context First
There’s been some talk lately about a story that the New York Times did recently about how Googles ranking algorithm didn’t work right, or isn’t, when it allowed an unscupulous business to list highly in the SERPs for multiple terms. As a bone of contention, I’ll first toss in the black hat argument, that any search can be “gamed” if the long term is unimportant. But secondly, the “SEO experts” commenting on this story are frustrating to in the way their articles have been written.
First off, SEO is not an exact science. There’s no specific do this and you get number 1 formula, as each search, each niche, each query is different for each person using Google/Bing/Yahoo etc. There is the best practices of course, which the search engines have available on their sites for your reading pleasure, but there was a string of, ‘evidence’ I’ll call it, by one of the SEOs that I need to rant about.
Search, for it’s simplicity, is a complicated beast. With Google continually tinkering with their algorithm, Bing doing their own changes and manipulations and who knows what else going on around the globe, it can seem like you’re using a firehose to put out birthday candles sometimes. And the article that irked me the most, used a string of searches to ‘prove’ their point. Using screenshots, arrows and breaking down the results page each time to prove that if only Google did it their way, search would be better for the shopping inclined. My issue with the article comes from the searches performed that were used as proof. In one shot for example they were looking for ‘mechanics in winnipeg’ and in the second they looked for ‘mechanics winnipeg’, after which you can include arrows and screenshots to show “See now if you only did it my way..” The issue is, those are two very different searches that were performed. Those weren’t the searches used of course, but being that Fresh Traffic is located in Winnipeg, I took some liberty, just as they did, to prove my point. Those two searches, return two different SERPs, and two different amount of results numbering in the thousands. When you add the ‘in’ operator to a Google search, the engine defers to it’s newer Google Places product, and tries to give results more akin to a shopping or services directory. with reviews, phone numbers, addresses and Maps pinpoints. Performing the search without the ‘in’ operator gives you a mix of organic results and Places results mixed in, more of a thrown together guess from Google of what you’re looking for.
So as for being creative on how you tried to prove your point, I guess kudos for displaying a poor SEO skillset to those who don’t know any better. But there are those of us in the industry who know better, and despite all intents and purposes your hat is a shade darker today.