Regardless of what you do with your days and nights, you’d be hard-pressed to never have used Google at some point in your life.
Chances are, as we’re off and running in the year 2020, you’re using the “free” internet database and information machine on a weekly basis – most likely daily – and for good reason.
Google is an information powerhouse, serving up billions of searches a day and many-thousands of searches per second. It is second to none.
Its “hundreds of billions of webpages” that have been crawled and make up its always-expanding Search index are proof of that.
But for all its good, Google still gets plenty wrong every day.
Some problems are worse than others, depending on how often you use Google, how familiar you are with the search engines, and, basically, who you are.
A digital marketer is going to (typically) have a much more extensive understanding of how Google works than a middle-aged security guard, a stay-at-home mom, or even a police officer or a firefighter.
When considering the eight call-outs below, it is mostly considered from an everyday, average Google Search user.
That said, there will certainly be deeper explanations for seemingly basic concepts to show just how wrong Google has gotten it on several critical occasions.
1. Always Testing/Changing
Whether you’re an everyday user, sometimes user, or in-the-trenches search marketer, you most likely know Google doesn’t sit still.
The world-leading search engine makes hundreds of changes per year to its platform through thousands of updates that included more than 3,200 updates in 2018, a number that has increased each year for decades.
It has confused users, angered SEO professionals, and ultimately transformed the way nearly every human on Earth interacts with the World Wide Web.
Thus, there is likely never just one reason for any – or all – of the changes Google makes a year.
But, while many average users can easily illustrate examples of why they were ever displeased with a change Google made, there are plenty of times when those changes worked in favor of the user in terms of a better experience on the search engine.
As a search marketer, we not only appreciate many of the changes Google makes due to their impact on the overall search experience; we also appreciate these thousands of changes per year because it keeps us in demand and employs us – directly and indirectly – every day.
2. Glitchy, Like All Computer Programs
Like any technological entity, Google, too, endures glitches, bugs, broken parts, and pint-sized disasters.
In early April 2019, Google had to fix a technical issue that caused pages to be deindexed.
Later that same month, a Google issue caused the search engine to select unrelated canonical URLs that were sometimes reflected in the breadcrumb trails on mobile. In rare cases, this may have prevented proper indexing of content by Google.
The following month, Google announced it was experiencing indexing issues that lasted through much of a day.
While temporary, it was still a major issue that prevented new content from being indexed in search results and make those results far less useful than they typically are.
Search Engine Journal staff writer Roger Montti pointed out how even though “Google has suffered outages in the past, Google has not experienced so many outages in such a short period of time,” as it did in the first half of 2019, suggesting the series of problems could be tied to a larger issue like an infrastructure update.
In July, Google had to fix a bug that caused search results to not fully render for some people over a span of several days.
Then, in the following month, it fixed another a bug that prevented newly-published content from being indexed again (same issue as May).
And, just as recent as February 2020, Google experienced glitches with Google Search Console and Google Tag Manager that caused some sites to become unverified in Search Console.
Clearly, this isn’t a problem most Google users would even recognize, but it was another issue that had some sort of impact on search, its users, and Google.
3. Never 100% Accurate
No search engine is perfect.
But they have all been impressive at one point or another with the results they serve up, and Google is certainly no exception to that.
While it doesn’t need a specific name or entity title to get the answer you’re looking for, Google is able to connect the dots for people more often than not when delivering an answer with a limited amount of information for many informational-type searches.
Other, more-granular searches that are guided with specific details – like a person’s name – can result in a short, simple answer that usually becomes a featured snippet.
These answers are a work in progress – that is, building out the database tied to the entities referenced in those answers.
More often than not, featured snippet answers are correct, or at least mostly correct.
There are certainly times when the answers, or at least parts of the answers, are incorrect, though.
Like the example below (which is now fixed), Google referenced Ice Cube’s net worth, but then suggested some other similar searches, which include a photo of rapper Vanilla Ice as the representation for (a different) rapper, Ice-T. – Read more