Only 13% Of Google.com Shows Actual Search Results

The scariest part? That figure is high compared with the search giant’s results in mobile.

Google used to be simple. You search a term, and it would give you a list of links that should include what you were looking for. Then it brought in monetization schemes like Adwords and other monetizable products like Maps and Zagat recommendations.

But it wasn’t apparent just how absurd things had gotten until Aaron Harris, co-founder of Tutorspree, broke down Google search page results into simple real estate percentages. As it turns out, on a 13-inch Macbook Air, a mere 13% of Google’s results page are dedicated to results when searching “auto mechanic.” (More literally, that means Google gives you three links for your troubles.) More than twice that space is spent on ads--yielding almost four times the number of links. Imagine that in any other context--maybe a TV show in which the commercials were the main attraction--and it’s beyond absurd.

That sounds bad, right? But it gets worse. From Harris:

Open your iPhone. Search for “Italian Food." What do you see? If you’re in NYC, you see 0 organic results. You see an ad unit taking half the page, and then a Google owned Zagat listing. Start scrolling, you’ll see a map, then Google local listings. After four full page scrolls, you’ll have the organic listings in front of you.

Google has long been phasing out its infamous blue links in the interest of more effective pre-chewed content. In fact, we’ve praised their use of “cards” as a watershed design strategy for the era of information overload. After all, why click a link when Google can simply mine the relevant information from that link?

But especially with its recent push of Zagat listings, which impose a lot of its purview onto the public, Google needs to tread carefully and maintain their hard-built aura of objective omniscience. Because at the moment, Google appears more interested in its own needs than ours. And that’s a very scary place for any company to be.

Read more here.

[Hat tip: Gizmodo]

[Image: Google search via Tutorspree]

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10 Comments

  • Deviea8

    Google is designed to be an information engine. With keywords like "auto mechanic," it's more likely than not that the searcher is attempting to find an auto mechanic nearby. In that case, the map is a very useful addition to the search tool. I don't agree at all that only 13% of the search page is useful. Google's true genius is that its design makes for a kind of fusion of advertising and usefulness. I've clicked on plenty a paid search ad that had a tempting coupon for just the service I was searching for.

  • Cyril

    seeking attention are we? i wish i could attach a picture to my comment just to show that a typical google search result for "dominos pizza" or meaning of a word yields 100% of all typography directly related as for the white background, well i guess you'll have to live with that ;)

  • sacha k. chabros

    We are flooded by information continually.  the reason I use Google is the distraction-free white page.

  • Marcus Agunloye

    This test needs to be applied to other sites, both competing search engines and other sites to have any sort of meaning. The 13% figure sounds shocking when put on its own in a headline, but I bet if you put it into the context of what we generally see day to on the web I really doubt it's that bad considering how few sites attempt to fill the entirety of the screen with information.

  • wober2

    Wow that was a really bad study. The results are still so easily noticeable on what is an ad and what are results. This is how I always remember google. They are an ad agency...

  • kivimaki

    This whole experiment is so poorly conceived it's laughable. When you're talking about the percentage of pixels taken up on screen you are essentially calling white space wasted space. "37% of Google is totally useless"!

    13% is great number to stick in an accusatory headline, but when you look at the actual content below the header you're looking at 59% advertisement and 41% search results. That map is actionable and helpful information.

    It's even more unreasonable considering how infrequently links farther down the page are clicked. The top three links attract around 60% of the clicks from that search. I don't have numbers from mobile but people are more likely to want immediately available info on a phone. Providing people "pre-chewed" information at the top of the page is an excellent thing when using a mobile device, especially considering Google does a bang-up job making sure that information is relevant and helpful.