|My concern is that Google may not be sufficiently intelligent enough to differentiate this |
I'm sure they are plenty smart enough but choose not the differentiate, for whatever reason.
I have an older site which has fantastic user interaction but I cannot get traffic from Google to this site if the visitor's search terms hinted at wanting to buy a product, and likely from visitors Google thinks are likely to buy.
I have another site that gets a high CTR for impressions in search and it receives more traffic than the site with a better UI despite getting far fewer total impressions. This site is purely informational so it *feels* like product based sites have it tough right now, if they are not a known brand.
I think Google is rating the CTR of your impressions in search quite strongly and with a high degree of granularity based on the keywords being searched for. I'm seeing results from titles that don't hint at a product for sale and that don't have a brand or product name in them.
An idea: Create a site that allows you to search for a keyword but randomizes which of the big three search engines you are sent to. Afterwards your input is requested as to wether or not you were satisfied by the results. This, in time, could create an extremely granular data set on which search engine is the best choice for specific keyword searches.
Imagine that, you type in some search keywords and are taken to the best engine as determined by previous searchers. I'd love to see the tables turned on search where they are held accountable for the quality of their results on a PER KEYWORD basis!
A little historical graph showing search engine trends for each keyword would be awesome, I'd use it instead of wasting time checking all three engines.
@Whitey - I'm not up against "brands", per se, but they do get extra ranking "bumps" from Google (not as much from Bing). I don't know if official websites/landing pages for Brands are treated the same or not.
Additionally, CTR combats this to a degree but the number of pages in the site or content on page seems to help too depending on the term and who we're up against.
What does having a better UI have to do with a search engine rendering results that are what users expect and trust? Why should a site with a better UI outrank a brand? I don't even see the correlation there.
To begin with, if by "better UI" you mean "better conversion", how would you expect Google or any search engine for that matter to reliably determine the conversion rates of all (or at least the vast majority) of the web sites on the internet? Not everyone uses Google Analytics (though many do). But would you still be using it if you knew Google were using your analytics data to rank your site? If that ever becomes public, I predict a mass exodus from GA.
Secondly, higher conversion rates don't necessarily mean a better customer experience. Conversion rates are misleading. Sites with high conversion rates could have a terrible overall customer experience. The "customer experience" with a company doesn't end at the end of a purchase funnel on your web site. Google can't track whether products are shipped on time, arrive in good condition, are billed correctly, are easily returned when there is a problem, etc. These are all the things that attract users to brands... and the things that make unknow web sites/companies a much less attractive option in most cases.
You have to remember... Search engines are built to help people navigate the web. A large percentage of the time people already know which company/companies or site(s) they are trying to find, and they are simply searching for the keyword phrase(s) that will raise those URLs to page one so that they can click on the link (perhaps they can't remember the company name or their URL). In fact, I would say that is the case more times than not.
People simply trust brands far more than they do some Joe running a web site out of their basement. Perhaps "Joe's" web site looks better, has a better conversion funnel, maybe even sells a better product, but people like what they know and are familiar with and that is brands.
If the job of a search engine like Google is to help people find what they are looking for then it makes sense that brand sites and sites seen as authoritative would typically outrank less authoritative non-brand sites even though they might actually have a better UI.
I don't see this as Google trying to "keep a brotha down"... They are simply trying to give users what they are looking for. Users don't search for sites with the best conversion or UI. They are looking for sites for companies/brands that they already use and/or are familiar with so that there is some level of "trust".
If you want to compete... spend your time and money establishing yourself as a brand. Don't rely on SEO. Market your company using as many channels as possible. Differentiate yourself like Zappos did through customer service... And eventually you might just find yourself a brand like Zappos did.
Great post ZydoSEO, and great points you make...
And, who knows, maybe 'for today' Google picks the top 10 answers (results) based on 'probability of getting the right answer with one' for a specific searcher in the first page of results and doesn't necessarily rank them according to anything other than the probability the end user they actually serve (not you or your site) will like one of the ten results?
I'd personally rather look at brands first and then 'Joe Site Builder/Reseller' if I decide to not purchase from a 'house hold name' or if I want more 'offers, opinions, better price', so, from an end user perspective, they've got the results correct for me based on what's being stated ... I don't care what your UI is like ... I want to purchase from a name-brand if possible for 'essentially the same price' otherwise, I'll consider you ... Sorry, but that's reality, and yeah, I know it's harsh, but I think it's time someone started posting more about the reality of what people are likely looking for instead of Google Gaming Techniques.
(I have relatives who love Amazon ... They really couldn't care less what you sell or what your UI is like or even what your price is in comparison ... When they search, they like to see Amazon ... It's the 'right answer' for them.)
Major brands first, everyone else 'somewhere later' sounds about right to me actually ... Again, sorry, especially if that's not your idea of 'the right answer' or what you're used to, but for many people I think they've got it right, because I personally don't care how easy to use your site is, if a major brand-name has the same product for an essentially the same price, I'll buy from the name I know has to 'kiss the a**' of their customer before I'll buy from some name I don't know and doesn't have a reputation I've heard of.
Let me give a 'real life example' ... I used to be a <BigComputerStore> customer, but one day I had an issue with trying to purchase a product on their site ... Their customer service rep. was horrible and told me to go back to the site and try again instead of just taking my CC info and completing the transaction, so I went and did more research and now I buy somewhere else, and when I buy another computer, rather than from them like it would have been, it will most likely be directly from Apple, but when I buy other 'stuff' it's from the other company I found ... You (or anyone else) didn't really ever have a chance until <BigComputerStore> was less than adequate in my opinion, then I looked around and now there's two other 'name brands' I will buy from ... You (and most sites) were only 'in the running' as the 'right result' for me for less than 24 hours ... I don't mean anything is wrong with you or your site, but as a customer I buy from those I have the most confidence will 'take care of me' and if they don't then anyone else has basically 'one chance' at my business ... Honestly, as a searcher I don't want to see 'an alternative' to the business I usually buy from as the number one result, because it's not what I'm looking for or whom I'm looking to buy from...
[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 7:06 am (utc) on Jan 7, 2013]
I didn't remember to qualify 'you' and 'your' in my preceding post before the edit time expired, so I hope I didn't 'step on anyone's toes' with the way I posted ... If I did, my apologies ... I'm just now 'getting' how difficult it is for some to understand what I'm saying ... I guess it's much more difficult than I think it is on occasion.
|I didn't remember to qualify 'you' and 'your' |
Lol...there's an easy solution to that, use "one" and "one's" :-)
"My concern is that Google may not be sufficiently intelligent enough to differentiate this"
I definitely agree with you on this - yes they are intelligent, but Google is still underdeveloped in a lot of areas.
Look at the Basic Principles for websites they endorse..
#1 Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as "cloaking."
I would have thought the user experience on your website would be one of the most important things to Google. That does include content but it is also the user interaction.
The top two guidelines say make pages primarily for users and ask does your site help users. Most companies I know that have online marketing teams worked very hard to achieve this and arent rewarded enough..
Don't care what anyone says I can spam anchor text & still dominate Google in some verticals - check out the query 'payday loans' in the UK & have a look at the sites ranking in the top 20 and you'll see exactly what I mean.
Google still has work to do.