Will Normal Web Users Follow Cutts To Bing?

Written by Ryan Ogilvie - 08 Dec 2010

Up front: Cutts is not going to Bing! Repeat Not! That aside, writing a post on how Google annoys me would be very easy indeed. I understand that it’s easy to whinge from an SEO perspective forgetting that most of the “normal users” out there couldn’t care less and know nothing about SEO. All they are interested in is whether the top results Google or Bing throws up (especially since Bing calls itself the decision engine) are relevant to the query they’ve just typed in. Equally, “normal users” assume that the no.1 position is a kind of endorsement. The site will not only be relevant, but will somehow give a better user experience – better navigation, better looking, easier ordering process - than sites lower down the rankings. That assumption will also extend to fulfilling in the offline world the promises made online – i.e. you actually get the stuff you’ve ordered!

So, while as an SEO practitioner I could quite quickly build up a list of all of the reasons why I think Google will not be the dominant search engine in years to come, I will try to balance this post out, fairly(ish). Usual caveats: these are my opinions and not necessarily those of Fresh Egg Limited.

The SEO Perspective

It wasn’t until talking through recent developments with a few clients over the last couple of weeks that I got a real world perspective on how badly Google are messing up. Like many of my peers in the SEO world, I dislike Google more and more by the day. They are not doing us any favours as an industry and clearly have no intention of doing so in the near future. Google just seem to want to have SEO under their control and stamp down on the industry altogether. The fact is, although there are hundreds, if not thousands of SEO’s out there, even if we all got together, stood outside Google and refused to move until changes were made, they still wouldn’t budge. Shouting about it on platforms like Twitter wouldn’t do much either. The SEO industry is simply not big enough to change the way Google thinks about their business. Besides, when has Google ever wanted to do something that was good for our industry anyway?

It would appear that Google want to go down the Paid route and harvest the results that they provide in Organic. At least the team behind Bing have acknowledged that we are a part of the game, but the fact remains that for Bing to succeed, Google has to fail. Bing can’t win, but Google could lose. That may be a long way off as Google has become a household name and achieved the accolade of turning from a noun into a verb. Name me one “normal web user” who says, “type it into the search engine” rather than “Google it”! But you can’t assume that position will pertain forever.

The Normal Web User

And speaking of those normal web users, we all know how they search - right? Half of them are still using Internet Explorer which means they are using Bing. The other half is using Google and clearly must find it useful as they have stuck with it for years. However, when talking to a couple of clients over the last few weeks it would seem the general opinion is that people are losing confidence in the search engine. My clients are normal web users, they have offices that consist of normal web users and are by no means restricted to optimising their searches for Google like the SEO industry is. When talking through the recent changes like Google Places, it would seem that the client’s opinions of Google are, to say the least, not good! Quite the opposite in fact.

I have quotes come in over the phone such as “that’s just crap” and “why on earth have they done that?” to which my answer can really only be: “I agree with you and I don’t know why!” Google has unleashed a broken Google Local on top of an even more broken Google Places. Has anyone out there noticed any consistency at all in the way you are seeing Places or how on earth Google are ranking Places? My clients - all average users - would seem to be increasingly representative of the general population who are slowly getting annoyed with the frequency with which Google makes these drastic changes to the way the search engine looks, feels and operates. True there’s an element of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in the users’ minds because they were comfortable with the Google they knew and by and large trusted.

I seriously do believe that if Google keep thinking themselves as above everyone else in the sector and do no research on whether these changes are going to be good for the general web user, more normal users will migrate to Bing as their search engine of choice in the next 18 months.

Many thanks to @MarcusSEO and @PaulChaloner for their input on this!

On a final note, what do people think about Google Places and Google Instant? Are they fully functional aspects of Google or broken products?