Mar 152008

Google To Vegetarians: Eat The Damn Hamburger


Waiter: Good evening, sir. What style of food would you enjoy tonight?

Diner: Vegetarian, please.

Waiter: Yes. [points to menu] Here are our vegetarian offerings.

Diner: I'll have the lasagna.

Waiter: Excellent. One vegetarian lasagna, coming up. [Exits, returning 10 minutes later with meal]

Waiter: Your lasagna, sir. Bon appetit.

Diner: [irate] What the hell!?! You've garnished my plate with hamburger!

Waiter: [confused] Sir? Is anything wrong?

Run the scene again, this time with Google's "Search Within The Site" (SWTS):

Google: Good evening, sir. What are you searching for?

Searcher: CDW, please.

Google: Certainly. [delivers SERP in 0.14 secs] Here's a SWTS search box leading to all our CDW organic results.

Searcher: Laptop, please.

Google: Excellent. One "laptop" search on the CDW site, coming up. [Returns 0.10 seconds later with refined SERP] Your organic "laptop" CDW site search results, sir. Bon appetit!

Searcher: [irate] What the hell? My screen is covered with links to HP, Dell, Lenovo, TigerDirect, and OfficeDepot! I said CDW!

Google: [confused] Sir? Is anything wrong?

Serving competitor ads against SWTS serps is a bad user experience, Google. You're ignoring what your users asked for. I don't care that folks are clicking on these competitive ads. We know they are, and that's no justification. We're seeing referring URLS like this

in our PPC logs for various clients. Sure, advertisers win a little when their paid search ads steal a click away from an organic SERP intended to be just about their competitor. And advertisers lose a little when the reverse situation happens. Don't argue those two effects cancel out. That's not the point here.

Serving competitive ads against SWTS results is simply bad user experience. When someone asks for results from, don't toss ads at them for and That's tossing burger at vegetarians. Yes, you pick up additional revenue doing it, but don't be evil.


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PS "laptop" is just one particular example; ad serving currently occurs on all SWTS searches.


5 Responses to "Google To Vegetarians: Eat The Damn Hamburger"
Jim Novo says:
Hmm, that's an interesting twist of fate. A new functionality that "Expands" my search, just as I am trying to narrow it. I'd guess clicks on the Expanded search results will be of poor quality. That's very annoying. In other Google news along these lines, today I had to go in and turn off "Automatic Matching" in every campaign we are running for the Lab Store... When Google was testing the "Optimize Your Campaign" thing, all they ever suggested was to add phrases to a campaign we were already running in other campaigns uniquely created for those phrases. Sorry, I prefer specific ads and landing pages paired with specific searches. I'm just weird like that!
Gerry says:
I totally agree, in fact it has seriously annoyed me - especially when people spend a lot of time and effort on internal site searches... even if they don't, the results aren't always quite that good. There should be an option in Google webmaster tools to get rid of this teleportation Incidentally won't it have a negative effect on CTR ?
Tad Miller says:
Google's Expanded Broad Match is always showing our client's ads for competitor names and even typo's of competitor names. Google's search query report is very good at revealing when this happens. We never get return on investment when broad matching to competior names, so we ad these competitor names as negatives. We find that running a Search Query Report every 2 weeks is absolutely necessary to find negative keywords that help Adwords "get it right". The irony is if I intentionally wanted to conquest my competitor's keywords Google would crucify me on Quality Score with $5.00 & $10.00 minimum bids, but they have no problem showing my ads when they broadmatch to those same competitors names when I never intended to. Relevance is not being served by Google using Expanded Broad Matching. Google Adwords Quality Score punishes advertisers for not being relevant but a review a Google search query report shows its truly a matter of 'do what I say, not what I do..."
seosurvivor says:
Thank you for the great metaphor Alan.. I have been following several discussions around the same topic. People are talking about it. While Sitelinks are great, and tend to improve a sites conversions if setup right, I feel that SWTS is just getting in the way. Now that the "WOW, this is new" factor is over, and that we're actually seeing direct results from this new feature, it doesn't take long to figure that the pages being served back in the SERP, after a SWTS, are less relevant than what the user would have achieved by clicking on a sitelink. As a result of lack of relevancy, comes the lower conversions. The only party that seems to be benefiting from this scenario at every SWTS performed is Google Adwords. They get to serve more ads. I would also think that the conversion rate for the PPC ads here would be higher since the user has taken the first step in voicing their wants. This is a fine line for Google's "don't be evil" policy. I'll give them credit if they give this feature an "opt-out" choice within Google Webmaster.
Gary Rupert says:
I'm not an expert. I gave up on Google as a source for finding what I want a long time ago because of its irrelevancy. Now that we have a web site that we want to promote, we check Google from time to time and it drives us nuts. Why to people continue to use something that doesn't work? Will there ever be a solution? Gary

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