The old mantra "If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it" is an aphorism the folks at Google would do well to remember. Like any good business Google is always looking to improve its offering to its customers, but has Google gone too far?
In 1997, Google set out two goals for their search engine:
- to provide a better quality of search
- to present search results in a clean and simple manner
Their latest look incorporates several new features into their search results pages with the most prominent being a filter on the left hand side which enables users to choose what vertical they want to search, for example, Google News or Social Media; it also enables users to define a time period for the results. For example If you wanted to compare what was written before the first election debate to after you could specify web pages found in the first two weeks of April.
Now these features are nothing new, but they had been contained in a side bar which was only accessible from a simple link until recently. With their universal inclusion and the addition of social, video, image and real-time results into search engine results pages it quickly becomes a case of information overload, which is an issue we are visiting all too often recently.
The above example search result for ‘Election 2010’ is about as “blended” as it’s going to get because the election is a current talking point which makes it a good example of the potential for over-complicating the look and feel of a Google SERP. This particular search page includes feeds from news websites, Twitter and YouTube which pushes all but 3 organic results down the page – which means that if you’re not in the top 3, people probably won’t see you – and even if you are they may struggle to notice you amongst all the other potential links on the page.
Compare the complexity of the new SERPs with the SERPs at competing search engines such as Bing.com:
Google has to find some way to include the vast amount of information generated on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, but if it continues to add more and more information to its results pages it runs the risk of obscuring their own USP: helping people find websites simply and without fuss.
The easy answer to these problems is to add 'basic' search filter and to offer a way to simplify the interface, but whether Google implements this or something similar only time will tell. If they don’t resolve these issues, Google could all too easily become what they set out to differentiate themselves from causing their users to abandon the overly-complicated Google results in favour of Google’s competitors.