Google isn’t really a search engine after all

Google is no longer a search engine. Instead, it is fast becoming a “short cut” engine to get to content we already know about. The fact that “Michael Jackson” is the current number-one search term on Google should not amaze us. But the remaining “searches” show a surprising trend.

Even typing in these few characters can be too much work for many people

Even typing in these few characters can be too much work for many people

The second search term on Google is “facebook”. That means you can click on the first result to get straight to the Facebook home page. It’s much quicker than typing “”, plus it is less prone to typing errors. And even if you do make a mistake, such as typing “facebok”, Google picks up the mistake and presents what you were really looking for. As a result, the “search” engine is merely acting as a tool to get you to where you want to go, quickly.

True enough, you could achieve the same “shortcut” using a “Favorite” or a “Bookmark”, even using a desktop icon. However, it appears that relatively small proportions of people actually do this, preferring instead to type the name of the service they want into Google, because it is quicker and easier to do that.

The Internet Examiner raises this very issue and asks “How lazy are we?“. Well, the answer is quite lazy. Of the current Top 10 search terms on Google, five are for places that we already know about – Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Yahoo and Google. Yes, that’s right, the 10th most popular search term in Google is “google”…! That might seem strange, but it’s a quirk of browsers. Most people leave their browsers on default settings which means that if you type the word Google into the address bar (which by rights should also have the http://www.) the browser does a search for the word you have typed in and takes you to the nearest matching site. In other words, the fact that “google” is the 10th most popular “search” term indicates that people are just typing this single word into their address bar as a shortcut.

People are lazy; it is built in to our very nature. Slowness helps survival – reduce your metabolic rate and you live longer. Contrary to what we might expect, athletic people tend to die younger than non-athletes, for instance. Deep inside us there is some kind of “instinct” which helps us take the short cuts, in order to help boost our survival. So it is no surprise that we are lazy when using Google.

But this has two serious implications for anyone running an online business. Firstly, it means that the Google data about what people searched for has an inbuilt inaccuracy; they may not have been “searching” at all, instead using what they thought was a short cut. And that means your site analytics may not be all their cracked up to be. Secondly, it suggests that if you can provide “short cuts” to getting to your web site, you could get more traffic than you might from “search”.

To do this you firstly need to generate links to your site. Spread these across the web and you will get the lazy, short cut lovers to click on a link, rather than have to search for you or type anything in. Concentrating on gaining links should be a fundamental strategy – and by links I mean thousands of them. You can easily achieve this using software that finds relevant, quality sites you can ask for links. Not enough time is spent by web site owners trying to generate valuable links.

Next, make it easy for people to bookmark your site, or make a favorite of it. You can do that for this site by clicking this link: {module Bookmarks}

You need to add a bookmarking script to your site or content management system to enable visitors to have a short cut back to your pages. Also, have a “Recommend to friends” option so that people can quickly send a link to your site to their contacts – even to themselves.

In short, the easier you make it for people to click to your site, the better. That way, you provide the lazy person’s way of reaching your content. Google has its place, but it’s worthwhile remembering that for many people it is no longer a “search” engine,  but a “short cut” engine. It shows that your web site visitors need the easy way to get to you – and therefore you need to do everything you can to help them be as lazy as possible. And just think about it – by doing so you’ll probably be helping them to live longer…!

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