We’ve always agreed that Google search results are, to put it crassly, crap. And, having worked at Yahoo! for three years, I always questioned the wisdom of doing away with a directory model, at least for major categories where human beings can find good sites, big and small, that provide real information presented in a compelling fashion. GreatDad even tinkered with an early filtered vertical search technology that we thought would provide personalized results from only trusted sites in the parenting space.
This latest move from Google, much demanded by anyone fed up with garbage search results, may help Google in the short term, but will likely only provide the “safest” results from big media companies, who may not be that close to the searchers intention. At GreatDad.com, we’ve already seen our traffic fall by 40%. I can’t imagine Google has done a lot of research into who they are penalizing since GreatDad actually syndicates our news to Google News, a service that is actually filtered by human beings. And given that our 16 contributing writers are all published authors, it’s not as if we have a dozen monkeys locked in a room typing randomly from dawn to dusk.
Our hope is that this latest “Google dance,” as they have been knows since Google started periodically shuffling its algorithm, has a short-term effect, not only for GreatDad’s sake, but for all smaller publishers, as well as people who count on independent voices to provide a sometimes different take on things artistic, political, and even parental.
“This change is about more than just cleaning up content farms,” said Chris Copeland, chief executive of GroupM Search, a search marketing firm that is part of the advertising company WPP Group. “Google has a relevancy problem, and they are trying to do something about it.”
Google made the change after technology bloggers, industry analysts and everyday users complained that its search results had useless pages. The response may help Google’s reputation, Mr. Sullivan said.
“The change may not necessarily improve the results — hopefully it will — but it will definitely improve the perception of Google,” he said.
For one egregious example of the new Google search at work, search on “Dad.” GreatDad.com used to be #1 for this search term. We are now #5. However, ahead of us is not some other dad site, or even a general parenting site like Babycenter or Pregnancy360.com, but a wikipedia entry for some Danish rock band named D.A.D. and the Dad movie. Though they may also be searched on, I would expect most people searching on “dad” are looking for something about fathers.Yep, I’m mad, but consumers should be as well. You may get results that “protect” you from content farms, but many will be watered down or completely off-track.