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If you were visiting a town and you stopped to ask someone to give you some ideas for restaurants in the area, would you want them to tell you about several restaurants or would you prefer they tell you about several places you could go to find a list of restaurants? This is a question the folks in Google have asked themselves and they appear to have answered the question. I’d like to know what you think about their answer.
A little over a week ago Google updated how they determine their local search results (an update being referred to as “Pigeon”. This did not just include how they ranked organizations in Google Maps, but also how they ranked websites in the search results you see in Google.com searches when you search for local things, like “restaurants near Albuquerque”. There were several changes, which you can read more about here, and one of the affects of those changes is that local directories are showing up more in local search results. So, if you go to Google.com and search for “nail salon San Francisco” you’ll see a whole bunch of Yelp listings and then eventually the Google listings below. Similarly, searching for “doctors near St Louis” will give you results that are nearly all directories of doctors, not the websites of actual practices.
Is This Quality?
We assume Google does these updates to improve the quality of their search results. So, the question here is whether this really improves the quality of their results. Which would you rather see, the actual websites of the things you are looking for or directories that list the things you are looking for?
The Good and the Bad
On the one hand, maybe having a list of restaurants or doctors is better because it gives you more options; but then again, isn’t that what the Google results were supposed to be. It’s almost like Google is saying,
“We don’t trust our search results, so we’re going to give you several options of the search results of these other websites which are probably better than anything we’d give you.”
I’m sure that’s not what Google is trying to say intentionally, but that’s kinda what it looks like.
Another way this could be good is that most of the directory results Google shows are sites which have user ratings and reviews. So, perhaps by returning directory results it gives you not only a list of whatever you are searching for, but information from people who have already been there to help you in your decision of where to go. Of course, they could also just pull the relevant rating from their local data and provide a small link to the company’s reviews.
What About the Organizations?
Then there’s the other side of the coin. Companies are spending lots of time and money designing and marketing their websites. They work hard to keep their site’s up to date and filled with the information they believe will be most helpful to visitors and most effective at getting them to visit their location. Is it fair for Google to just ignore that, not showing their website in the results, but rather some third-party directory where the organization may have to pay even more to include the information they think visitors want?
What Do You Think?
I’d like to know what you think. Do you prefer directories in the Google results or the actual websites of the companies/organizations? Cast your vote in the poll below and then leave a comment with your thoughts on it.
Please post your thoughts on the subject in the comments below: