Google Isn't Fit For Purpose
Yes, you read that title correct. Google isn't good enough, and it no longer has you (the user) at the heart of its operation.
I'm not on about Gmail, Google Scholar, YouTube, or any of their other services. We're talking Google Search, the original service that has achieved God-like status.
To reaffirm just how popular Google is (as if I need to tell you), around 63,000 searches are done on the platform, per second.
Take the phrase "just Google it", what do you think? Have a quick search and find the answer straight away, in the first result? I think we all do.
When in doubt, Google it! The answer will be at the top of the page for you.
That's not the reality, though. An answer will be there, but the chances of it being one which isn't best suited for you are high.
In this article, I'm going to go against the grain and delve into why Google just isn't fit for purpose anymore.
*Please note that as with all things in life, Google is ever-changing. The results and ordering is more than likely going to have changed when you're reading this. The concept is still the same, however.
It's a Rich Man's (Or Woman's) World
Money is a language we all speak, none more so than Google. They hold 76% of the search engine market for a reason.
Google Ads have been a revolution for businesses. No longer do they have to spend months working on the Search Engine Optimization (SEO), crafting perfectly formed webpages, with highly ranked keywords.
Instead, they can just throw their bank card at Google, and they'll put them to the top of the pile. The more money the better.
It doesn't matter whether you offer the best value for money or customer experience. If you spend more money on Google Ads than your competitors, you will be higher in the rankings.
Let me show you what I mean.
Image you're a UK business and you need DBS certificates for your employees, so naturally, you search "DBS Check" on Google.
What do you want out of this?
- A quick, reliable service.
- A company that knows what they're doing.
- If you're doing multiple checks, you want affordability - every penny counts!
So, Let's Have A Search
We searched on Google for 'DBS Check', and this is what we were shown:
Great, the first four results are all DBS Checking services!
What is not so great, however, is that these four results which take up the whole screen, are all adverts.
To any unsuspecting individual, these appear to be the best companies to do DBS checks with - after all, the cream usually rises to the top.
Since time is money, and money can be better spent on Google Ads, we're going to use the price, and any information on the website to make a judgment on the company, their service and its value to you the customer.
Here's how they're broken down:
Basic Checks £70 +VAT ...Ouch!
No mention is made that individuals should apply for a Basic DBS directly via the DBS service.
The Government fee for the Basic DBS is £23, so it is assumed this company's admin fee is £42 per person.
For companies, there is also a £20 (+VAT) set-up fee. This is the only one on the list to charge you for pretty much just entering your details! But you then get a reduction and only have to pay the £65 per application for Basic, Standard and enhanced Checks - well worth it then!
Total Basic DBS Cost (and set-up): £85 (+ set-up VAT)
Admin fees range from £10 to £18 (plus VAT), per person.
Then add on the Basic DBS fee, which is £23.
Total Basic DBS Cost: £35 (including VAT)
At the bottom of their page, ddc do mention that individuals should apply directly to the DBS service but don't provide a link.
This company offer two services: standard, and then fast track, for which they claim to prioritise and try to submit to the DBS within one day.
Standard Admin Fee - £42 (including VAT) + 23 Basic DBS Fee = Total Basic DBS Cost: £65
Fast Track Admin Fee - £52 (including VAT) + 23 Basic DBS Fee = Total Basic DBS Cost: £75
Basically, they charge you an extra £10 for giving you faster customer service, a service that they should be providing fast anyway.
At the bottom of the page CRB Direct do mention that individuals should apply directly to the DBS service but don't provide a link.
Only do Basic DBS checks
For some reason, this company claims that a Basic DBS still costs £25, that's £2 more than the actual Government fee.
Their admin fee is £40.
Total Basic DBS Cost: £65.
No mention is made that individuals should apply for a Basic DBS directly via the DBS service.
Research Your Companies!
After sifting through the true returned results (the ones who got to the top on merit, not buying their place), Aaron's Department DBS, appears to be the cheapest overall package, whilst still claiming a quality service.
Their admin fees start from as little as £3.97, and then when that is added the £23 their Total Basic DBS Cost is from: £26.97.
And they have a bold section advising individuals to apply directly through the government website.
So, that's £23 (after searching around) or £85 (top of Google) for the exact same Basic DBS Check - almost a £60 difference!
So, if you're not much of a bargain hunter or are unaware how Google Ads work, you will end up paying anywhere between £35 and £75 for a Basic DBS.
Ouch! - and that's PER applicant!
To get to the top of the page, (even if it is artificial) these four companies have had to join the Google ad space auction and fork out major money on Google Ads. The only way to get to the top is to pay more than the company below you. But this advertising fee has to be recovered from you the customer.
Google knows which it wants you to go for, and it's not the one that is the best value for money for you!
As a customer, why would you pay double, in some cases, triple, the amount when you can scroll down, click through a few websites and find a much better deal?
Being at the Top Doesn't Mean They're the Best
After the adverts, it's all down to SEO. Who has used keywords to their advantage to land the best spots?
It's all about being tactical; you can offer the worst service in the world, but if there's an SEO genius behind your website, to the top of the pile you go (underneath the adverts).
When doing a search of DBS check, there were a total of seven adverts on the first page, which meant there were nine spots up for grabs. However, four of these were taken up by the Government website containing information on checks, and the fifth spot taken by Reed was an information guide. This left a measly four spots available (on the first page) for companies that provide DBS Checks.
You'll find that the companies that occupy these spots changes order pretty much every day, depending on how Google see fit. Looking at these companies, some are good, some make false claims and some twist the truth.
Rich Snippets Are Not Independently Checked
Feature snippets are meant to give people a quick answer without having to click on any links.
How does your website become a featured snippet for a website? By giving the answer Google thinks is best. Extra emphasis on the world thinks.
Since we're on the theme of DBS checks, shall we have a look at how long one lasts?
Here's what Google shows:
The main big, bold, "look at me" answer it gives is 3 years, which is wrong! The actual answer is as long as the employer wants it to last, or until you perform a new check.
When you actually read the snippet, it says "Some authorities suggest a new check every 3 years." Google has done whatever Google does, and somehow used its algorithm to put this to the top of the pile.
I'm sure there are many more examples of Google dishing out misleading information. Who was it that said "Fake News has never been so fake"? Oh yeah, maybe not too wise to quote that source...
Being a Featured Snippet Can Be a Bad Thing
You've done all the work, and finally made it into the snippet. All is well and good, isn't it?
Actually, no - being a featured snippet can actually cost you clicks.
The snippet is designed to give all the information the user is looking for at a glance, so there is no incentive to click onto the webpage it is from.
If you've made an excellent snippet, then you'll have definitely told the user the key facts, and you've got nothing to show for it.
I often use the featured snippet as a reference point, and will click on the links below it to double and triple check.
If people are clicking on other links more than yours, Google will assume that there are better snippets out there than yours. Back down the rankings you go, unless you fancy getting your credit card out...
New Starters Have No Chance
As mentioned, to get to the top of Google, you need to either invest heavily, or build your SEO over time.
Where does this leave new websites? At the very bottom.
Building a webpage which is featured in the single digits of Google results can take time - something new businesses don't have enough of.
If you're asking me what can be done to make it fair for everyone, I don't have the answer.
I just know that the current situation shouldn't be the final one. You better get the cash and false claims ready if you're in a hurry!
Is Google good? Yes. Will it ever be overtaken by a better service? Eventually but probably not soon.
After all, they're already making themselves at home with the Google Home!
As users, we want the best experience: the best price, the best quality, the quickest service. Will Google find us the companies that do this? Nope!
I don't expect you to boycott Google and flock to Yahoo, or dare I say... Bing, after reading this. Just don't take Google's first suggestion as gospel in the future.
Have a hunt around, double check the information it gives you, and try to find a better bargain than those offered in the first few rankings.
Google does get it right a lot of the time, and is by far the most convenient service on offer, as it integrates itself into our daily lives.
Do you think Google is fit for purpose, and do you agree or disagree with any of the points made? Let us know down below!