Google’s version of Hamburger Helper

For quite a while now Google has been stuffing the first page of the search results. If you’re doing a local search for a garage door repairman in Rochester, New Jersey, you want to call someone right now to get the problem fixed. You probably DON’T want a directory like Manta or SuperPages. At some point you might want to check the repairman’s reviews on something like Yelp, but for most people, that’s not where they want to start. If you’re looking for a plumber, you almost certainly don’t want a listing for plumbers on MapQuest (think about it, plumbers come to you, you aren’t going to go to their shop).

In some recent searches, I have seen five, six, even as many as eight of the 10 local search results pointing to “filler” sites. When you have a plate of Hamburger Helper that’s only 10 percent hamburger, isn’t that really just a plate of pasta?

So why wood Google do this, intentionally polluting its search results?

Money! Retailers and service providers need to be on page one of the search results. Google serves up 10 per page by default. If six of those results are filler, links that don’t take you directly to what you were searching for, that leaves the merchants scrambling for the four remaining positions on page one. Once those four slots are taken the only way to get on page one is to pay google for advertising.

Advertisers bid against each other for the ads on page one. The cos of the ads increased dramatically when Google eliminated the eight ads that used to run vertically down the right side of the page.

It seems to me that this is a calculated move to extract maximum profit at the expence of quality search results. They seem to be betting that people will keep using Google just because Bing and Yahoo are even worse. So far G seems to be winning that bet.