17th August 2015
Trust. Years to earn, seconds to break?
I’m sure most of us are familiar with the concept that the highest ranking positions in a search engine are critical to visibility, and provide not only the greatest amount of traffic to that particular website, but also instils trust in consumers. I want to know why. Are humans really that trusting to have such faith in the first set of results shown by Google? Or is there something more going on that needs explaining? I feel the latter is the most likely.
The obvious is to maybe think of it like this – you’ve had a friend you’ve known for a long time, you trust them, they always seem to be there, a lot of other people you know trust them and like them too and everyone seems to go to this person for advice (Google), you even hear people you don’t know talking about them, so this person really rocks, right? Well what if you go to that person for advice, and they recommend talking to a few people… the first name they mention seems the most likely one to pursue, seen as that’s the name they considered most relevant when you first asked the question. They mention a few others, but as the list goes on, you’re thinking, ’well, if I stick to the first few names then I’m sure to find what I need’. Your friend’s advice pays off, you get the information you need quickly from their recommendations and therefore when you have another question to ask, you know exactly who to go to for that advice. Hence the magic of Google!
What is remarkable is the way that it uses a series of algorithms to assess links, trust, and content exactly. And what I find particularly adorable is the names given to these algorithms: Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird.
- Panda was first rolled out in February 2011 and it’s all about on-site quality. The aim is to get rid of ‘spammy’ sites and make the content as relevant as possible to the keywords entered into the search engine.
- Penguin followed the following year, in the April. Its goal is to reduce the trust that Google has in sites that have ‘cheated’ by creating unnatural backlinks.
- Hummingbird was introduced in Sept 2013 and is considered to be a complete overhaul of the entire Google algorithm. Think of it like this, Panda and Penguin were ‘new parts’ of the engine, whereas Hummingbird was a whole new engine. Its purpose is to better understand a user’s query.
Google makes this information readily available, and perhaps this transparency and apparent priority to make the search results as relevant and trustworthy as possible seems to be at the heart of what Google is trying to achieve.
Moz words it like this: ‘It’s not always about getting visitors to your site, but getting the right kind of visitors’ – hence the importance of the search demand curve, and how Google’s Hummingbird attempts (quite successfully I might add) to make these more specific search results better understood by the search engine to give the most applicable results from what Google considers to be the highest quality websites. Clever, isn’t it?
However, there’s so much information out there telling us that Google shouldn’t be trusted, that they can read our emails and track our progress on Google Maps, but yet we still keep going back for more and trusting them with an overwhelming amount of personal information. One particularly good point is that of reliability. Google’s main homepage is always ready, uncluttered and reliable. People naturally trust consistency. If you regularly meet up with a friend that is always late, then you trust them to be late to the next appointment. Yet if they are consistently on time, you trust they will be again. What’s perhaps more interesting is if your normally ‘on time’ friend turns up late on one occasion, but despite this apparent breach of trust, you will still believe your friend to be on time at the next date. This means that even if Google does play up for some reason, it’s very likely that you will still trust them to be on time next time, hence the beauty of human nature and how relationships work.
Maybe it’s more to do with authority. Google is a household name: ‘to google something’ is a recognisable phrase and everyone – even those who aren’t online – know what it means. You don’t hear ‘to Yahoo something’ or ‘I’ll Bing it’, so it’s a real credit to Google.
For me personally, I don’t mind that they have access to such personal information about me. Yes it’s slightly horrific, but surely the benefits outweigh the cons? Through knowing my interests I only get Ads that are relevant to me, and hey, that might actually help me out at some point – just how does it know I bought that dress last week and those shoes would be the perfect choice? I think what we fail to consider is that our relationship with Google is mutually beneficial. Yes they may know a little too much, but actually, whenever I need Google, it’s there, and it seems to have my best interests at heart (most of the time). So hats off to the online marketers that seem to understand what I like and can spoon feed information and products that suit my needs, and thanks to Google for always being there, like an old friend, that I know I can trust. I’m sure it won’t be long until I check into Google once again.