dumb query = higher profits for Google


I was in Best Buy looking at LCD monitors and browsing the web on my PDA for better prices when I noticed something I have taken for granted : Google makes more $$ by playing dumb on search queries. It's important because I have always understood that good SEO helps Google deliver relevant pages to searchers. In a sense, as SEO I felt that Google and I were partners. Until I saw froogle on my PDA, that is...

My search for "Sony XBright LCD" was incorrect - it should have been "XBrite". But every SEO knows to optimize for variants like "XBright", right? The ads were certainly relevant.

Anyway My PDA screen presented a solid 4 pages of nicely-formatted Google Sponsored Links for Sony monitors and LCD screens.... and not one organic result. Damn those AdWords ads look perfectly like web content when dislayed vertically in-line on a PDA screen.

I thought Google tried to help deliver relevant results by adding plurals, "did you mean..." and correcting typos for you. But Froogle is a commercial SE, and in commerce, should Google bother to "help" when it could instead serve up sponsored listings? Every search that can't be matched is an opportunity for page after page of sponsored listings disguised as content. My Froogle results said Google had no results for "Sony XBright LCD" but it had no problem serving me 8 sponsored links targeting that query.

For the record, I asked a friend with AdWords to check and apparently nobody's bidding up "Xbright" so it was probably "Sony" and "LCD" that triggered the ads. Doesn't detract from the point, though - if Google can play dumb, it can make alot more money on sponsored links.


We do spellcheck on Froogle.

We do spellcheck on Froogle. I just did the search [dgital camera] and got "Did you mean: digital camera" in reply. And [tvio] suggested tivo, and [intel cnetrino] suggested intel centrino. But [intel cnetrinos] didn't offer a suggestion. My guess is that we just don't have enough data or confidence to offer that spell correction of Xbrite for Xbright. It doesn't offer that correction on websearch either, for example.

So if your claim is that websearch does spellcheck and Froogle doesn't--that's not true. If your point is that Google could do a better job of knowing that Xbright can mean Xbrite, that's a fair point. We can't nail every tyop though. :)

P.S. Extremely cool screen

P.S. Extremely cool screen shots. :)

hi Matt ;-)

Thanks for the clarification. I was mostly amazed at the stark contrast between being helped to the best results in Google, and seeing 4 continuous screens of ads-formatted-like-results on my PDA.

I didn't mean to imply Google was doing anything funny on Froogle, and I just re-read my post to make sure I didn't get it wrong. But I did suggest that in the context of a shopping engine, Google would do well advancing ads over working through AI to figure out what was desired. The PPC optimizers have the issue covered.

And I was also amazed at how the ads on the PDA screen are almost indistinguishable from web content.

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