Are Search Engines a waste of time?
“Google could be one of the biggest negative influences on workplace productivity in recent years. Gosh.” – Graham Jones – Internet Psychologist
This blog was triggered by two articles from Graham Jones an Internet Psychologist in the UK. References to his articles can be found at the bottom of this blog.
We would have been lost since the dawn of the Internet without search engines and they have been instrumental in the meteoric growth of the web. Where are we now?
Do Search Engines provide the service now required by Internet users?
Google is without a doubt the behemoth of the Search Engines so we will use Google as an example, with references of course to Bing, Yahoo and others.
Graham Jones in one of his articles mentions ‘The Social Acceptance Theory’, it’s obvious but true. We used Google because we were influenced by our friends and colleagues that Google was a great way of finding subjects on the web that interest us. In the early days we kind of accepted that when we typed in a search term that we would get irrelevant information because it was in its infancy, however this hasn’t changed today, in fact it’s got worse, but we believe in Google and others to get it right.
The Google Test
Let’s test Google today (19th December 2013) – OK we want to search for ‘Event Organiser Bournemouth’ – What we are thinking is we want to find an event organiser in the Bournemouth area to organise an event for us. We will only examine the first page of results as we would expect those to be the most relevant and most of us only look at the first page unless we cant find what we want!
The results of the search are:
- Google states there are 119,000 results – mmm we are not going through that lot so hopefully the first page will give us some relevant results.
- 3 Paid Ads – 2 of which are nothing to do with the search term and 1 is an event organiser for Stag & Hen nights – No Good
- 8 Paid Ads in the right column – None of them are Event Organisers in Bournemouth, why? find out below.
- Natural search results – 10 Results – 1&2 are Courses at Bournemouth University. 3rd is a Job Recruitment site, 4th is Gumtree that just links to a bunch of categories for Bournemouth, 5th & 6th Yay! BHLive and SimplyEvents organise events, 7,8 and 9th are more courses and 10th! is bang on Karen Lindsey Consulting she advertises herself as an ‘Event Organiser Bournemouth’
So what on earth happened Google? Out of the 21 results both natural and paid, we had three relevant results and unbeleivably the most relevant was last! Thats a 14% relevant success rate and I would probably have only clicked on one (Karen Lindsey) that makes the click through ratio 5%.
Why does this happen?
Google is a massive database of web content. Google spiders the web looking for content then adds it to its database, we then search its database with our search terms. Google then has complete control over what results we get to see.
Paid Ads Results
Google makes a great proportion of its money through AdWords and allowing businesses to gain higher rankings by allowing those businesses to add which search terms they would like their ad to appear on and pay more to get to the top. So in our test case above the first paid ad was from a company called ‘Motiveaction’, we suspect they paid the most to be at the top but they are not in Bournemouth!
Oh and because we used the search term ‘Event Organisers Bournemouth’ we will now start seeing Ads pushed to us when we browse provided by AdSense advertising.
Why did we only get 14% relevancy? Google operates its very secretive algorithms to determine content relevancy and Search Engine Optimisation Gurus from around the world spend hours trying to guess what it is to get their clients websites ‘No.1 on Google’. Google even provide SEO gurus advice on how to do it!
Yes Google does attempt to establish the relevancy of the content, but it is skewed by the efforts of the SEO gurus. So relevancy of results is determined by Google and the SEO guru, not what you are searching for!
The answer to our question
‘Do Search Engines provide the service now required by Internet users?’
The answer with 14% relevancy and a click through ratio of 5% has to be a resounding no!
So how much time do we waste on Search Engines?
As mentioned above we are so accustomed to using Google and Search Engines we don’t realise what we are doing, also we are not aware of an alternative. Every time we think of something we want to know we go straight to a search engine and enter the search term. Most of the time we are searching for the same thing, and when we see the results we then have to bookmark the websites because we are never sure that when we come back to search again that the Search Engine will find one of our favourite sites. In 2009 Graham Jones referred to a statistic that 40% of searches we make are repeat searches, we suspect that has grown dramatically now as we use use the Internet more and more.
Only you know how long you spend searching and surfing the web, we wont leave that to the surveys. Next time you use a Search Engine think about the relevancy of the search results. If they are as irrelevant as the test above shows then 90% of your time on Search Engines is a waste of time!
So how do we reduce the time wasted using Search Engines and get more from the web?
Pruk2digital the creators Yirika have for many years pondered on this subject, after all its not new. Not until recently the technology to achieve this just wasnt available. It was too geeky for the general internet user and just too complex to implement into a useable format for everyone. Without going into how it works lets just look at what it does:
- It searches the web directly – it doesn’t store in a database.
- It has no advertisers.
- It’s results are relevant to your search term.
- It’s not a ‘one search wonder’ it continues to search the web whilst you work
- It displays the results in an easy to read graphical format
- It updates all the time live form the web
- Your privacy is assured – Yirika doesnt need your personal details to search the web
So we think that it solves the problem of ReSearching the web for the same topics and returns results that are relevant to your Interest Topic.
Yirika doesnt mean you wont use Search Engines, of course they have their use for what we call ‘the quick fix’ but if you are looking for a web service that digs deep and finds the most relevant results continually whilst you work then this may be the answer for you.
Here’s an example:
You are interested in Gadgets and in particular Google Glasses, you would enter Gadgets in the first box and Google Glasses in the second. Yirika would then get to work searching the web to find out about Google Glasses, it would then return the results in a format as shown on the left.
It provides an image contained in the article it has found, the title, an excerpt, where the article is from, how long ago it was published on the Internet, what Interest Topic it belongs to and the ability to share this article with your colleagues and the ability to mark this as a favourite, removing the need for bookmarking.
As long as you leave this search term active in your profile page, it will continue to return up to date relevant results.
Profile Page! sends alarm bells ringing – How is my privacy affected?
Yirika does not use your personal details, it doesnt need to track you on its database to find out what you like, it doesnt have one! It simply returns what you are looking for directly from the web.
We started with Graham Jones quote so lets finish with that. Whether you work for a large corporate or you are a sole trader, time is money. Wasting time using search engines, being distracted by irrelevant search results, researching the web with the same search terms will be a thing of the past. Exploring the web, without search engines, without ads and on autopilot will allow you to get on with your job and will only require a quick glance at the tab open in your browser to see the latest results Yirika has found for you.
What’s your opinion?
This blog was triggered by two articles from Graham Jones an Internet Psychologist in the UK. He first wrote an article called ‘Search engines are huge time wasters‘ in October 2009 and one titled Could you be wasting your time with Google? in September 20013.
January 11, 2014, 12:43 pm
Hey Sachin – Good point altho not always obvious, Google search is more about advertising than providing relevant search results. Google, Bing and Yahoo etc is our only quick fix answer to searching the web.
January 10, 2014, 5:36 pm
Waste of time? I agree completely! These search engines most of the time make you get lost on the internet and give very little guidance. Only after hours and hours of using them do you find something useful, and by that time you have wasted quite a bit of your time indeed.
January 10, 2014, 1:51 pm
As a father, I find search engines quite useful in my daily life. I use it for range of topics and can find them especially useful especially when my children are sick as search engines guide me to the relevant health blogs and sites that in many (not all I know) provide me the details that a doctor generally would? Other than that my wife uses them a lot when she’s looking to find some innovation in her cooking so I find search engines have lots of value (and not the waste) of the time you invest in them.
January 10, 2014, 1:42 pm
I completely agree with the article. Waste of time certainly. So many results for one small easy query and you never know the first links you click might be one of the most irrelevant ones!! I don’t (and probably everyone) has time to go through all. Other than that so many ads. So much so I occasionally feel search engines are primarily a provision of advertisements rather than a provision of good quality information.
January 10, 2014, 1:34 pm
Waste of time? Search Engines? You’ve got to be kidding me!! I don’t think I could imagine where I could find sites which provide easy free knowledge if there were no search engines . . In fact I wouldn’t look for any new knowledge if there weren’t any search engines in the first place. I think there great and important as very important for people like me at least!