Relevant search results = more searches. Doesn’t sound right, does it?

One of the big guns at Google and a Google Fellow, Amit Singhal was asked at the SMX Expo a question that a lot of us sceptics always have at the back of our minds: how much does revenue considerations influence changes to the algorithm improvements for organic search results? The answer was certainly expected- none, said Singhal.

What I didn’t quite understand though was the reason that Singhal gave. According to him, by improving the relevance of the search, Google has observed that users tend to search more. That rationale defies what we intuitively expect, doesn’t it?

I think in the search process, there are three stages: Need, Intent and Fulfillment. A searcher has a need which is why he/she performs a search. That need drives his intent- what he expects to do after he has performed the search. Lastly, there is fulfillment, when he finds what he was looking for and was able to do whatever he wanted to do.

Improving search relevance essentially means getting as close to understanding user need and intent, and then delivering a result that leads to fulfillment. So, when Google improves its search quality, it should lead to earlier/ faster fulfillment, and consequently, a lesser need for the user to search again, isn’t it?

Considering Google’s main source of revenues, it is in the company’s interest to have more relevant ads shown than the organic search results or listing websites in organic search results that lead to sites that feature Google ads. But the search engine claims to do things very differently, which it may well be.

However, it will certainly help for Google to give a much stronger explanation about the independence of organic search relevance from the company’s revenue objectives.

- By Manoj Aravindakshan
Manoj Aravindakshan is an online marketing consultant and the Managing Director of Mumbai SEO company, On Target Marketing Solutions Pvt Ltd.

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