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 X.com, don’t toss ads at them for Y.com and Z.com. That’s tossing burger at vegetarians. Yes, you pick up additional revenue doing it, but don’t be evil.
PS “laptop site:cdw.com” is just one particular example; ad serving currently occurs on all SWTS searches.