21 Oct 2009, Posted by admin in Featured,Google, 4 Comments
A while ago I posted on the iCrossing Connect blog about Google’s Vince update, where I mentioned that the huge boost that a lot of brands saw could be attributed to what users were actually searching for. So if people search for “car insurance” and then search for “direct line”, and click on Direct Line’s homepage in the search results, Google might be more likely to place Direct Line within the search results for “car insurance”.
This idea fits in exactly with what Chewy from Google recently mentioned, where he suggested that users refining a query generally indicates that they’re not happy with what they’ve seen, and Google sees that as a failure. As Richard Baxter has pointed out before, Google might also want to make sure that they get it right the first time because each query refinement will cost them in bandwidth. Getting the query right means that their cost per query goes down. When you scale that to something the size of Google, that could potentially be an enormous saving.
Lastly, the Vince update appears to have been rolled out across search terms that have a very high search volume (like “car insurance”, “loans” etc), but I’m going to guess that Vince mainly applies to terms that are searched for a lot, but that also have a huge percentage of those queries that then get refined. Another reason that Google might do that is because they have no idea what to show people when they search for something as generic as “loans”. I wouldn’t know what to return to people either – are they looking for a loan? Looking for advice on taking out a loan? Do they want to lend money? Do they want a definition on a loan? Statistics on loans? Google isn’t sure either, so a benefit of Vince is that they can let users dictate what they want to see. If vastly more people want to see Money Supermarket and Tesco Finance instead of Wikipedia’s loans page – why not display them instead?
The interesting thing about Vince is that it looks like the related searches show the refined queries – so if people search for “car tax” after they search for “car insurance” – that’ll be shown in the related search. Last year the related searches only displayed semantically related terms (like if you’d put those terms into the Adwords Keyword tool). Now it doesn’t. Check it out:
Flickr image from Marc Shackman