It isn’t enough that Google thinks it knows what users are searching for, but in a new testing initiative, the search giant has gone a step further by testing limited results. Results are being hidden when Google is confident of what the user is searching for. There have already been complaints on WebMasterWorld where searchers claim a search for “BBC Football” only returned a single web result. Should this experiment become a reality, the ramifications for online business are huge.
The official line on this from Google’s Matt Cutts is, “Sometimes less is more with search results”. Another statement from a Kapoor in the Google display team reads, “In an effort to provide the most useful results for searchers we are constantly testing new features. Putting users first has served us well so we continue to do that”.
Are we facing a future where Google becomes an even bigger dictator, eliminating choice and ruling who is shown and who isn’t at will? Scary stuff. It is difficult enough to get to page one – spending monthly on SEO endeavours – let alone facing the prospect of being not shown at all.
Thing is, this isn’t an entirely original initiative by Google. Microsoft Bing has done this previously with their “Best Match” feature when they first relaunched as Bing. Not like Google to follow and not lead, is it? I have a feeling this feature may end up annoying rather than pleasing searchers. Sure, produce results in order of relevance – something Google is quite good at doing – but don’t arrogantly limit results to one or two options on the basis of thinking you know exactly what a person is thinking. The robots are taking over! You have been warned…