How relevant are Google’s search results?

Are you looking for an SEO company in Essex? If so, Google may not necessarily be the best place to look. I micro case study showing how keyword rich domains still rule and how Adwords still struggles with low volume search terms.

You are reading: How relevant are Google’s search results?

The only way is essex SEO Every now and then, we find ourselves getting very frustrated by Google’s search results.

We are great champions of the search engine and ultimately depend on it for our existence, but occasionally find evidence of fairly poor results that are hard to defend (believe us, we spend quite a bit of time defending Google and explaining why a particular site doesn’t really deserve the high rankings that the site owner believes it does).

As our regular readers and friends will know, we moved office last week. Not a major geographical shift – we are still Essex boys (and girls) – but being more central got us thinking that we really should spend more time trying to attract local customers, as we hardly have any Essex based clients.

We have therefore set up some localised PPC ads to try to attract the attention of local businesses.

A quick scan of some fairly obvious searches (e.g. ‘essex seo company‘) this morning has highlighted two fairly depressing truths:

1) Keyword rich domain names still work

We should caveat this by saying that we haven’t actually spent any time seeing if many sites, which do not have keyword rich domains, have actually been optimised for the phrase ‘essex seo company’ but it is hard to support the notion that keyword rich domains have been devalued looking at the results for this search.

Just three results on the first page do not have a (spammy looking?) domain that uses some combination of ‘seo’ and ‘essex’. Slightly flies in the face of Mr.Cutt’s video exploring keyword rich domains (although he doesn’t deny that it can work).

The quality of the sites that are ranking well is questionable at times and, if you look closely, there is some cross linking between some of the domains. Not the ‘SERP utopia’ that Google strives to achieve…

2) Paid search results are not as relevant as you would hope

This is actually more frustrating than the prevalence of keyword rich domains ranking well and is not a good showcase for the adwords platform.

When we search for ‘essex seo company’ this morning, the first paid result is one of Google’s own (promoting adwords support – not sure how relevant that is to an SEO query?) and then there are a series of ads that are not at all focused on Essex. Yes, they are SEO companies but they are not Essex SEO companies.

Our ad has managed to sneak in at the bottom of the pile and this may appear like sour grapes (it is not, we promise, we are just interested to see / discuss the results!) but you have to question why an ad that is so clearly focused on Essex is not performing better for such a specific search?

Essex SEO PPC Ad

There is no denying that we only put the ad live last night, so we have no history on that ad but the cynical amongst us will no doubt suspect that the ‘non Essex’ ads are ranking well as the advertisers are bidding much higher on generic ‘SEO agency’ related phrases.

They do, therefore, have an absolute right to be there and we all know that you don’t actually have to be based in Essex to serve Essex clients, but it would suggest that Google is more interested in generating advertising revenue than presenting the most relevant ads for each search?

The experiment has also confirmed that the ‘low search volume‘ issue is still a real problem. In Google’s defence, a lot of the phrases that we are bidding on will indeed be extremely low volume but it is still frustrating to see that there will be a lot of irrelevant ads returned, despite the existence of highly targeted ads being available.

Our ‘Essex’ promotion is really only a small test as we will continue to serve clients much further afield but we hope it does serve as a good example of how Google is not perfect. There are obviously plenty of much bigger fish for Google to fry and it is of course natural to prioritise developments on the search engine but we would love to see a way for low search volume keywords to be managed more accurately.

Have you seen similar (frustrating) results? If so, we would love to hear about them so please feel free to add comments below.

 

4 thoughts on “How relevant are Google’s search results?

  1. I just happened to be looking at phrases like “seo essex” the other day and noticed the SERPs stuffed full of thin websites…. I thought the recent Google updates were meant to get rid of this not give ‘extra weight’ to keyword domains.

    I feel your pain with the SERPs results. I thought exact-match domain mapping was solely used by the affiliate marketing community to promote merchants on large volume phrases – not for flogging SEO services. Its fine to do in scenarios where all a website does is focus on one single business element – but for companies like yourself ‘a company name with no keywords in the domain’ and a firm that wants to feature for a few related phrases (but not stems of the same keyword) it can be frustrating.

    I suppose it is fine for “SEO Essex Ltd” to use this tactic if all that company intends to do is SEO in Essex. It becomes a little more difficult when the same company is trying to show for other phrases like “web designers in Essex”. In this instance the company has to create another website to focus on the different target market/keyword group.

    This is all great until the company grows into a larger staff base and needs to create a branded identity… they’ve put all their effort into localising their domains to regions and keyword phrases… where now they want to appear as a larger, national brand. Do they just create a heap of new websites? or try and build one, single website that spans their market offering? …. if you extrapolate out to this longer-term scenario then it would have been better to try and build a brand name for the company early on and roll with that.

    I can see why they have gone down this route – they are probably getting a reasonable amount of leads off the back of their SERPs rankings and telling prospective clients that if they can get themselves to the top then they can get their clients to the top too.

    ……. But, only if they have an exact-match company name.

  2. I just happened to be looking at phrases like “seo essex” the other day and noticed the SERPs stuffed full of thin websites…. I thought the recent Google updates were meant to get rid of this not give ‘extra weight’ to keyword domains.

    I feel your pain with the SERPs results. I thought exact-match domain mapping was solely used by the affiliate marketing community to promote merchants on large volume phrases – not for flogging SEO services. Its fine to do in scenarios where all a website does is focus on one single business element – but for companies like yourself ‘a company name with no keywords in the domain’ and a firm that wants to feature for a few related phrases (but not stems of the same keyword) it can be frustrating.

    I suppose it is fine for “SEO Essex Ltd” to use this tactic if all that company intends to do is SEO in Essex. It becomes a little more difficult when the same company is trying to show for other phrases like “web designers in Essex”. In this instance the company has to create another website to focus on the different target market/keyword group.

    This is all great until the company grows into a larger staff base and needs to create a branded identity… they’ve put all their effort into localising their domains to regions and keyword phrases… where now they want to appear as a larger, national brand. Do they just create a heap of new websites? or try and build one, single website that spans their market offering? …. if you extrapolate out to this longer-term scenario then it would have been better to try and build a brand name for the company early on and roll with that.

    I can see why they have gone down this route – they are probably getting a reasonable amount of leads off the back of their SERPs rankings and telling prospective clients that if they can get themselves to the top then they can get their clients to the top too.

    ……. But, only if they have an exact-match company name.

  3. Thanks for the (excellent) comment Robin – couldn’t agree with you more.

    We are not big fans of keyword rich domains and spend a lot of time trying to convince clients that setting up a plethora of new websites to focus on specific products / services might not be the best idea in the world.

    As you say, focus on being brilliant at what you do and build a brand for all the right reasons, not a spammy looking ‘brand’ that is very limited in what you can offer. Does Apple sell fruit?

    Business name selection is quite tough (we spent quite a long time thinking of names before going for a suitably flexible ‘Browser Media’ – the theory being that it suggests web related work but was not too specific about any one discipline) but domain selection can be even harder. A total nightmare in most cases, so you have to accept that it is hard to find the right domains but we do hope that the thin / keyword rich website will be a thing of the past in the near future.

  4. Thanks for the (excellent) comment Robin – couldn’t agree with you more.

    We are not big fans of keyword rich domains and spend a lot of time trying to convince clients that setting up a plethora of new websites to focus on specific products / services might not be the best idea in the world.

    As you say, focus on being brilliant at what you do and build a brand for all the right reasons, not a spammy looking ‘brand’ that is very limited in what you can offer. Does Apple sell fruit?

    Business name selection is quite tough (we spent quite a long time thinking of names before going for a suitably flexible ‘Browser Media’ – the theory being that it suggests web related work but was not too specific about any one discipline) but domain selection can be even harder. A total nightmare in most cases, so you have to accept that it is hard to find the right domains but we do hope that the thin / keyword rich website will be a thing of the past in the near future.

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