Google’s hypocrisy in their “Diversity” update drive
Sam Silverwood Cope, 9 Jul 2019
So, in June 2019 Google announced that they wanted to diversify the search engine results. What they meant by that was to not have the same domain appearing countless times for one search.
Several years ago if you searched “Cheap Flights” for example you’d get 100s of results from cheapflights.co.uk – so Google shook it up. And now they are trying again.
Google said “A new change now launching in Google Search is designed to provide more site diversity in our results.” Google added, “This site diversity change means that you usually won’t see more than two listings from the same site in our top results.”
Apart from the fact they claim this diversification is happening, my colleague Jon has noticed they have actually made it worse.
However, didn’t the whole “Diversity” drive at Google not make the whole HQ get hit with a massive irony thunderbolt? Google’s SERPs seem to be lacking diversification when it comes to Google related products, so for them to tell us about diversity is hugely hypocritical.
Google Diversity? No, growing Google Dominance
Google wants us to click on its own content or affiliated sites. In an excellent study done by Rand Fishkin in How Much of Google’s Search Traffic is Left for Anyone But Themselves?, we see Google’s dominance even on its own search engine is increasing, and that Google now takes 5.9% of all searches for it’s own sites, but possibly more seriously we are actually not-clicking on almost half our searches.
The EU Vs Google
Over the last 9 years, Google has been investigated for violations in EU competition law due to its perceived over dominance of the market. These cases have resulted in formal charges for Google Adsense, Google Shopping and the Android Operating System. The latter invoking a €4.3bn fine, the largest ever EU anti-corruption fine. This fine was obviously appealed, but Google’s antitrust bill from the EU now totals €8.2 billion ($9.3 billion)
However, there is little focus taken on the SERP results. The EU did send out an RFP last year (2018) for companies like Pi to help them track Google’s own performance in the SERPs. We wait to see what the outcome is.
So why is Google getting 5.50% of clicks to it’s own site?
Here we look at some quick searches done on very general terms in Google UK desktop. Google (circled in pink) seems to dominate somewhat.
Search Term: Apps
Amazingly Microsoft is first. But positions 2 and 3 are owned by Google. Surely the algorithm needs to change to correct this irregularity.
Search Term: Maps
Total Google Dominance. The only Diversity is that Google links to another one of its sites – mapstreetview.com . It’s as if Google invented maps. (Spoiler: they didn’t)
Search Term: Music
Total YouTube Dominance, obviously owned by Google. Where’s Soundcloud, Spotify etc etc?
Search Term: Photos
It’s as if the only place for photos is Google. No diversity whatsoever.
Why are half of all searches zero click searches?
Easy. It’s because so many searches now give you a lot o the information you need on the SERPs page. What’s the point in clicking if Google gives you everything already formatted? Whether it’s sport, weather, movies or shopping, Google is owning it all.
Search Term: Sumer Shorts – Google Shopping results
Search Term: Toy Story 4 – Google Shopping feature
Search Term: Bitcoin Price – Google Money feature
Search Term: Birmingham Weather – Google Weather feature
We look forward to hearing from the EU. Before then Google will probably carry on taking more real estate within the SERPs until businesses stop spending money.