Why Google is so powerful – and so poor at results

In just a few years Google has gone from quaint to total dominance and now it’s for-geeks-only if quality information is required. That may sound strong but let us explain.

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Google now performs trillions of searches. But Google is also thousands of times more used than any other search engine. This presents huge problems. The first issue:

  • quantity not quality

This presents itself most often when you try a “simple” search. For example, a generic search for art gallery in London returns 46 million results. Now London is a thriving capital city but there are definitely not 46 million galleries there. Even trying to narrow the search by making the term explicit by enclosing in quotes – “art gallery in London” – returns 2 million results.

In contrast, using a phone directory returns an enormously more accurate result of 695 entries. This brings us to the next issue. If the information is of low quality, why is Google so successful? The answer is:

  • Google exists to make money, not provide accurate information

Other search engines in the market also exist to make money but the other 9 of the top 10, combined, only manage one third of the searches undertaken by Google. The other contenders are so far below Google that we can almost discount them. In December 2009 comScore reported the number of searches as (MM):

  • Google logoGoogle     87,809
  • Yahoo        9,444
  • Microsoft    2,403
  • Facebook   1,023

Therefore everything that Google does in the web space is enormously important. But also, the results are increasingly biased (pay per click) or irrelevant (spam and scam trickery within sites). Many estimates say the level of spam in emails is around 80 percent. Perhaps the same is true of website search results.

Those various factors mean we can now put the two main issues together:

  • Google needs huge numbers to make money, for itself and its clients

The shift in power to Google is not their fault, however. The public has been weaned off quality information by the bias and dumbing down of newspapers and TV channels. The funny thing now is those same news media companies are the ones complaining about the power of Google.

Top Social Brands exposed – what the statistics really mean

The ongoing attempts of social media marketeers to hype themselves may be failing. The much-discussed Top 50 Social Brands is no such thing. Yes, Social Radar may have done all the right things in terms of gathering information, but the results are disastrous.

First of all, the numbers. As the chart below clearly shows, only the Top 10 have any real significance. Thereafter everything is squabbling over half percentage points. Being below No.15 and being below 16% “score” of the leader is irrelevant.

Excerpt from Top 50 Social Brands

Excerpt from Top 50 Social Brands

The next issue concerns the Top 3 – they are enablers. The product or service of Twitter is not social media – only 4% of tweets are retweets, therefore tweets are an online soapbox. Tweets are a public version of a text message – 96% are ephemeral and inconsequential.

Google is also not social media. Google gathers information about web content, whatever and wherever. There is no social structure or filtering and therefore no social media benefit. Providing a list of 33,900,000 results of a search for “social media” is meaningless.

Facebook is an extensive federation of private clubs, each discussing their own introspective interests. Millions of people have joined Facebook, but millions of people have also joined large denomination churches. To say one is social media and the other not is to reveal the fallacy behind the way statistics are being filtered.

Excerpt from Virtue 100 Top Social Brands

Excerpt from Virtue 100 Top Social Brands

There are some very interesting and relevant results in the surveys, however. And they’re all from the same supplier:

  • iPhone
  • Mac
  • Apple
  • iTunes
  • iPod

For any one brand to receive multiple entries in the Top 10 lists of social media from a variety of sources is of enormous importance. Apple have dominated every sector of business they enter in terms of quality. They have consistently been the Rolls Royce of computer companies, but iTunes revolutionised digital music and went on to become the leading retailer.

The iPhone revolutionised mobile phones, bringing the Macintosh quality, ease of use and market-leading features to set levels well above those previously achieved. Similarly the iPod set new standards of quality and profitability for portable digital music players.

BUT and this really is a big BUT, which other brands appear on both lists in the Top 15?

None? So we’ve said a score below 16% of the leader is irrelevant. We’ve said the Top 3 of the Social Radar list are not “true” social brands, which seems to be supported by Virtue who say: “The Vitrue 100 is measuring companies that are using social technology, not those who are the technology.”

We would argue that YouTube should be included in the Virtue results as it provides actual product and its service is public and definitely one of the best examples of social media.

In short, then, there are only two TOP social brands – Apple and YouTube. Let’s see what 2010 and the rest of the twenty-tens reveal.