Is Google having too much faith in their own Algorithm?
Almost everyone who's ever used Google for his or her search quest has seen them: the radio buttons below the search box to narrow down the search results to country level or a specific language. Research (Dutch) done by Andre Scholten, shows us that just a little over 3% of the searchers are using the search options. 3.28% uses the "Pages in -language-" option, and only 0,03% uses the "Pages from -country-" option. So, what does this tell us?
Users are happy with the search results, right?
First of all, Google must be doing its job very well: delivering the right and relevant results to its users. Since only 3.3% of the (Dutch) users is using the options for country- or language specific results, we can clearly state that Google perfectly knows what users want, where they are and what results are relevant to their search queries. Users seem to be quite happy with the results they get, without taking any steps to narrow them down. Well, at least the Dutch users seem to be. I am. I rarely use the option in the Netherlands. Most results I get back from Google are in sync with my expectations.
Google removing country specific results
Because of the fact that only a very small portion of users seem to use the country-specific options, it is not unlikely to think that Google will remove the options short term. As a matter of fact, Google already did some testing dropping off the country specific search in the UK and South Africa lately. I think it is save to say that Google is trying to eliminate elements that don't get much attention (anymore), but removing the options surely did raise dust, based on a thread over at Google's forum.
Is there any connection to the recent Google UK problems?
Well, I think there is. Without the options to 'tailor' the results to your country, Google is in total control of what results are most relevant to you. This means that Google's algorithm should be perfect, and perfectly understands what you mean, what you need. And we've all seen how that worked out in the UK lately. Bas van den Beld wrote an excellent post on Search Engine Land about the poor results Google UK was delivering. Worldwide results for local queries, Australian restaurants when searching for one in England, American maps when looking up a town that also happens to exist in the USA, etc. It all seemed to be a big mistake. But no, Google disagrees with its user base, as Matt Cutts stated that Google is delivering relevant results to the queries they received. That half of the UK rose hell clearly did not raise any question marks over at G-plex.
Google has got quite some faith in their algorithm
Yes, they seem to have. But should they? I think their algorithm does a great job when it comes to connecting users to results by search queries. But its not perfect. The UK issue clearly revealed that. And removing any options users have to frame their results to a local subset is something Google is not ready for. Nor are their users. I like having a few choices - being able to actually have something to say in what I want and what I don't want. And I think most users do. So don't take that away from them.
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12 June 2013 / 13 June 2013