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Are you being blindsided by brands

PeterHoggan

PeterHoggan

New Member
I think we all understand the value of a strong brand and the influence it can bring to bear in our buying decisions. Bind testing removes any chance of brand recognition/loyalty slanting decisions in test participants and forces a choice based on the tangible properties and benefits of a product.

When it comes to search engines, are Google results really so much better, or is it just because they’re from Google. If you take Bing results and put a Google logo on them would they taste better? Are we just used to thinking about Google as the best search engine?

BlindSearch is search tool that provides search results from the big three side by side without any branding, forcing you to really think about which results are better.

The tool removes UI, Universal Search and personalized results which Google claim to be a main advantage. Also the searches are run from a single IP address so it strips out any localisation you would normally see. Still it’s an interesting test, try it the results might surprise you.
 
It's a interesting tool... Which seems to suggest that three search engines are pretty duff with one being considerably duffer than the other....

I habitually use both Yahoo and Google, with Yahoo as my home page as I use Yahoo mail. The nature of my work (both my production work and teaching) is that I spend a LOT of time just doing research. And in about the past four years or so I've found it's not so much a case of finding the most useful search engine, but the least useless...

Even when looking for VERY specific phrases, Google in particular throws up all sorts of random chaff. In the past six weeks or so I've been paying courtesy calls to a lot of clients. And I've found myself quite surprised on a handful of occasions to see something of a revival in the popularity of the old-fashioned paper directory...

So personally I don't really rate Google at all....
 
Gordon N

Gordon N

New Member
Interesting point of view Matt, would you say that there is a gap in the market for a more efficient search engine/system or would you say it's due to there being to much junk around the internet showing up in results??

I too find the inconsistency of Google's results (from one persons search to the next) a major flaw, bringing the whole business of SEO in to question - I AM NOT STARTING ON THAT THOUGH!!!

I know that a search term entered, with 'UK Search' selected in one geographic area of Scotland will produce completely different results to a search a hundred miles away. Even if the search term is Web Design Scotland!!!!

This tool could be handy to try and detach the focus from the big G and focus on a more generic optimisation approach.
 
It's not anything I haven't posted before but my own view is that the 'Cat and Mouse' game that is SEO is to blame... And it's hard to see a solution to the problem.

No matter what system the search engines develop people will just figure them out and work to 'short circuit' them. We're now teaching students to essentially search 'manually' by actively hunting for links to the required information through forums, specialist directories etc... And that classic Search engine; The Mitchell Library! People are having to search manually to find what they need to feed into the search engines... In many ways to step back 20 years!

In an ideal world there would be no difference between search engines. Like spanners they would simply 'fit' the task perhaps varying only in the quality of their layout. There is too much 'junk' showing up simply because that junk is moulded to fit the search engines. Ultimately it's a self annihilating situation; the only winning move in this game is not to play. I couldn't care less about Google, Yahoo or any other search engine since these days they're only part of the story when it comes to finding what's out there...
 
PeterHoggan

PeterHoggan

New Member
Guaranteed there are dodgy SEOs all over the world promoting the hell out of crap for a few beer tokens. But I have to ask, if you offer a great service why wouldn’t you want your website to receive top visibility through search?

There a few dodgy web designers flogging websites that truly justify the existence of the back button, so should new start-ups forget about web design and existing companies let their domains laps when it’s time for renewal because of a few cowboys.

Similarly there are video production companies out there that produce complete crap, but is that reason to completely discount any video production I might have in the future.

Thankfully this kind of logic isn’t prevalent amongst consumers, if it was none of us would have any custom. Yes, there are a few dodgy SEOs out there screwing with the search results, these are usually the bottom feeders and its the only type of work they can secure or know. That said, the dodgy fraternity isn’t peculiar to SEO industry.
 
Guaranteed there are dodgy SEOs all over the world promoting the hell out of crap for a few beer tokens. But I have to ask, if you offer a great service why wouldn’t you want your website to receive top visibility through search?

I've completely given up on my website as a point of first contact. And so, I know, have many others.

And my main point is that search engines are no longer a particularly effective way of finding what you need on the net. So much so that in a recognised academic course we're now having to teach students more 'lateral', alternative ways of finding the information that does exist out there. If we didn't they would struggle, not least because the ability to research effectively is a key skill in our particular field...

By way of example I spent three hours last night on various search engines looking for the circuit diagram to build a voltage-sensing split charge unit. Hundreds of results; but not one to the page I needed... The link to which was eventually found by other means... (A magazine reference)

And the reason for THAT is that search engines produce results which are seriously distorted by constant SEO activity. The only people who are really winning out of this are the SEO promoters. It IS quite simply a game of cat and mouse...

Similarly there are video production companies out there that produce complete crap, but is that reason to completely discount any video production I might have in the future.

It IS, in fact, a reason why many people completely discount the notion of producing a corporate video... There are indeed lots of people out there with no skills or training. Some even sporting pseudo-qualifications from dodgy 'institutions' who more or less sell them letters after their name.... The Wedding Video Trade (for instance) is so badly affected by these 'sorts' that working in it or being associated with it will probably get you quietly 'blackballed' by many (most!) legitimate corporate firms; and most reputable professionals will distance themselves from it... I couldn't honestly point you in the direction of a GOOD wedding 'videographer (as these clowns insist on calling themselves),to the extent where there's no video of my own wedding.... Wasn't worth bothering about! Short of hiring two ENG mobile crews and a five-camera OB unit, it was bound to be crap!

So the short answer is yes! If EVERY corporate video was simply louder and more garish than the last one to the extent that people recoiled from them... then you certainly SHOULD avoid using them. And in truth my advice is that it's something you have done well, done professionally, or you're better not doing at all! Who, save for the people directly involved doesn't scream internally at the prospect of having to sit through three hours of someone's wedding video? Or equally well some shoddy training film that someone from 'HR' knocked together with his camcorder and laptop...

FOR these very reasons most legitimate professionals are highly intolerant of chancers...

Thankfully this kind of logic isn’t prevalent amongst consumers, if it was none of us would have any custom. Yes, there are a few dodgy SEOs out there screwing with the search results, these are usually the bottom feeders and its the only type of work they can secure or know.

Some people aren't wise to it that's all. It's often a shock to the students when we start to teach them alternative search methods and they begin to realise just how poor the search engines have become.

'Prevalent' consumer attitudes don't always reflect best consumer choice in terms of value or effectiveness. Alan Sugar made much of his money selling so-called 'HiFi' systems that were in truth no such thing. They were absolute piles of crap! He wasn't alone of course; Gerald Ratner was honest enough to admit what he was doing. Not that this did him much good...:p

Today, the Ford Motor Corporation will happily sell you a cheap, nasty under-engineered puddle jumper dressed up to masquerade as an executive luxury saloon. Armani will charge you a ton-and-a-half for a watch with a £3 movement and a cheap chrome-plated case; no better nor any different from what you'll get from any market stall for a tenner!

They shift a LOT of tin.... Where the smart money's goes and where prevalent consumer attitudes go are often very different places...

That said, the dodgy fraternity isn’t peculiar to SEO industry.

:confused::confused: Who suggested otherwise and what has this to do with the price of cheese?

There is a reason why (for instance) I could point you to SEO'd-to-the-hilt video production companies that are so utterly desperate for work they're trying to get folk to sell for them on commission only and trying to persuade young people to work voluntarily for them 'for the experience'. :lol:

Simple fact is they're struggling to find work. Yet not only am I turning people away, but year on year my students graduate, some set up on their own, and those who do invariably flourish...

I don't say that SEO is some sort of 'universal evil'. But I see no answer to the issue of 'black hat' SEO damaging the field to the point where it becomes professionally untenable; Rather as the Wedding Video trade has become...

As a consumer I see no easy answer. No search engine is bullet proof. Were there some system where a search engine were built around legitimate SEO then there might be a way forward... Perhaps; but I suspect the 'problem' will need to get to the point of implosion.....
 
PeterHoggan

PeterHoggan

New Member
Some Interesting points TGFtv. I have been in marketing in some shape or form most of my life and SEO since 1998. My entrance to SEO was through necessity, at the time I provided web design services and recognised the valuable role search should be playing an my overall marketing strategy.

It’s true to say that search is no longer the only way online customers can beat a path to your website. Social media has seen to that. Although search is no longer the sole means to research, locate, and buy products online, the number of visitors being referred via search continues to rise; well at least for my own website and those of the clients I work with.

12 months ago Google accounted for 60% of unique visitors to seoscotland.net at present that percentage has dropped to 49% but in real terms I am receiving many more referrals from Google now than I did during the same period last year and Google still represents my top referrer by a long shot.

If I am reading you correctly you have given up on your website as first point of contact based on the perceptions that “search is no longer a particularly effective way of finding what you need on the net” and “search engines produce results which are seriously distorted by constant SEO activity”. Gustave Flaubert said: "There is no truth. There is only perception". So your perception becomes your reality which might be completely contrary to that of many potential customers who are actively seeking out the services you provide online.

Zig Ziglar said “People don't buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.” Someone buying an Armani watch will give little or no consideration to the movement – that’s really an over simplification to what is happening and those who would think along those lines are not representative of the intended market. This particular example is about status and exclusivity which is a rare commodity at your local Sunday market or car boot sale. (An interesting comment though in light of the original purpose of this thread)

There is no guarantee that search engines provide a single source for all information known to humanity, so highly specialised searches can occasionally draw a blank. Wasting three hours searching for information that doesn’t exist in any search engine index can be frustrating. However, a few searches along the lines of circuit diagram “voltage-sensing split charge unit” or circuit diagram “voltage sensing split charge relay” would have told you very quickly that you had struck out and allowed you to move on.

Does SEO massage and manipulate search results? Of course it does, if I was to state otherwise I would be lying. However SEO is not just about positions, there is little point in securing top search engine positions for a page that offers little benefit to the searcher. SEO and Search engines are simply a means to an end; no buying decisions are ever made on a search engine. Furthermore, if a high ranking optimised page represents a disconnect and fails to meet the pre conceived expectations of the searcher they will be gone.

Although visitors are essential, what really matters is visitor engagement once they parachute into your site. This requires a great product or service backed up with original, benefit driven content rather than the extrinsic, process driven crap that currently floods the web. It requires that intrinsic reasoning be woven into the marketing message in a way that will encourage visitors to buy from you rather than a competitor.

It would seem to me that the SEOs that optimise pages purely for the sake of rankings are missing the bigger picture, offer little benefit on multiple levels to their clients and damage trust placed in search engines and the results they provide. Indeed, there is probably no other industry so adept at shooting itself in the foot over and over again one wonders if steel caped boots should become recognised business attire for SEOs.

Search engines still represent an effective marketing opportunity not just because traditional advertising is becoming perceived as unwarranted and intrusive, rather consumers view a company website as an expected courtesy and their perception is it will be their first point of contact.
 
stugster

stugster

Active Member
Verified Member
I've quickly skipped to the bottom of the thread and haven't read any of the replies yet (sorry). Just wanted to voice my thanks for that post. The tool really surprised me. I was convinced I would have preferred Google's results, followed by Yahoo's results, and then lastly (possibly out of spite?) Microsoft's Bing.

Turns out I'm an idiot. Bing won. Not just once, but three times, for completely separate and unrelated searches!
 
PeterHoggan

PeterHoggan

New Member
I've quickly skipped to the bottom of the thread and haven't read any of the replies yet (sorry). Just wanted to voice my thanks for that post. The tool really surprised me. I was convinced I would have preferred Google's results, followed by Yahoo's results, and then lastly (possibly out of spite?) Microsoft's Bing.

Turns out I'm an idiot. Bing won. Not just once, but three times, for completely separate and unrelated searches!

So It's not just me then :001_unsure:
 
I wonder, IF the oil warning light came on in your car; and it then started to make an odd rattling noise, would you quote Flaubert at it? Or phone the AA? :thumbup: Only teasing....

Now: let me be VERY clear on this. I know EXACTLY how to use a search engine! I've been working with computers since the days of the Commodore PET and 'online' since the days of Dialup BBS! And for several years taught Multimedia design and implementation...

The search I referred to returned tens-of-thousands of results. And I KNEW the particular document I was looking for was online; I could even remember specific phrases from it.... And there's nothing particularly specialised about building a split charge unit....

In fact; the more specialised a search, and the more specific, the easier it SHOULD be to find the result you need...

Had I wanted to BUY a split charge system, a motorhome, timeshare in Portugal or even a russian bride... Had I been seeking cosmetic surgery, a green card, or weight loss (actually I COULD do with some of this! :lol:) Or had I wished to avail my self of SEO services GUARANTEED to push me up the rankings (sounds painful!!) I'd have been in easy street...

KNOWING for a fact that something's out there and being unable to find it with the designated tools isn't just frustrating; it tells you something!

It tells you these things no longer do what they ones did efficiently.... It's a REAL issue...

My 'perceptions' have nothing to do with the decision to start teaching lateral search techniques as part of a recognised, SQA accredited course. It was deemed NECESSARY because the tools we HAD been using were no longer effective... Not a frivolous decision based on some 'lightweight' notion...

Zig Ziglar's not wrong in this instance; people do indeed buy into 'notions'....

As far as the watch is concerned the point you're missing is that people are buying into an illusion of status and exclusivity; and indeed the other things that go with it, luxury, quality, craftsmanship. But to those who actually know about this type of product (i.e the exclusive high-status set to which this product claims to aspire) it's more likely to render the wearer a laughing stock rather than do them any 'good'.....

It's approximately 1/20th of the price of the cheapest Rolex; itself about 'entry level' when it comes to truly well engineered luxury watches... And perhaps 20 times dearer that the item with which it is factually on a par with in terms of function and quality....

So the 'perception' of status and exclusivity in this example is actually a vacuous one... Fraudulent even. Like Ratner's "cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95" it services a delusion (of in this case grandeur) rather than actually being something someone who actually had a butler would consider using!

Poor old Gerald.... It was, of course, inevitable he'd fool all of the people that were going to be fooled for all of the time that they were going to be fooled ... But he just HAD to let that cat out of the bag! And once they knew the were being had his customers just walked away....

Now, getting conned over what is or is not a luxury watch is one thing. But I suggest that making business decisions based on the same level of lack-of-information is at best foolhardy; and more typically a sign of incompetence...

As much as I think search engines generally are now at the stage where they're no more 'fit for purpose' than a set of Ratners glasses i.e no more or less continent than a paper cup and remarkable only for their pale imitation of something much more worthy....

I've never been a fan of Google. And certainly the link you posted demonstrates well that its performance is at best indifferent. In that respect it's right up there with the Armani watch... Bing holds up well simply because it's not been abused as badly yet... And Yahoo, dear poor old tired worn-out Yahoo.... :sad::sad:

I'm afraid the 'black hat' SEO people you speak of aren't just putting slugs in their own feet...
 
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