Search Engine Bias

Why is SEO So Hard?

I have six search engines bookmarked on my browsers (Safari & Chrome) and regularly test them for how easily they find our web site. I use Google, DuckDuckGo, Bing, Dogpile, Lycos and Yahoo.

Early this morning I checked our site data and found only one visitor so far who directly accessed one individual post without using a search engine. This was also not someone referred by another site. They also didn’t come from Facebook or WordPress, which is most common. The only explanation I can think of is that they bookmarked from a previous visit. I’m still puzzling this.

It did prompt me to do a search engine test using only the post’s title “A Gem in Manila”. In the past I have always had a range of results with various search engines and have never really understood why. I regularly play with changing tags and at times get some improved results. The lag time between adding a tag and search engines finding it is a challenge. The one thing that is consistent is the unlikelihood of getting good placement in Google’s search results. Rare is the search that finds me in their first ten pages. More often, not at all.

Another unique thing about Google searches is the high incidence of “Trip Advisor” results. For a while one morning I did a hundred searches using terms related to places and travel on Google. What I averaged was a little under three of the top ten results were “Trip Advisor”. Randomly using other search engines the result was slightly over one. In addition these searches produced high numbers for many commercial entities like “Travel and Leasure” and Fodors.

This mornings search results for “A Gem in Manila” found our blog post in five search engines within the top four results. After ten pages of Google results there was nothing, I gave up. I got similar results with the search terms “manila gem”. I also did a search using four tags from the post with similar results. Never did I get a result within ten pages with Google. One additional observation on this particular Google search, was seven of the top ten results on Google were “Trip Advisor” while the other search engines averaged less than two??

While this raises questions about how “Trip Advisor” does it or what is the relationship between them and Google, I think it also exposes a deficit in this connection. Looking at the “Trip Advisor” results I discovered that most were individual reviewers comments of only a sentence or two in length, which suggests that the Google algorithm makes each individual comment individually searchable. What this implies is we could write a whole page about a weekend at a B&B with a fantastic breakfast including photographs and it would be weighted equal in a Google search to a one sentence “Trip Advisor” reviewer comment.

I had noticed over the past number of months that the few Google searches that were reported as a source on our data page had addresses like https://www.google.de, which would indicate that the search originated in another country. The above address is Google Germany. It would seem that Google in other countries may employ a different algorithm. The question that I have is why are Google search results so different from other search engines for innocuous searches like travel topics? I’m guessing that it has something to do with money more than fairness and the reason why we should care is that Google manages around 65% of the world-wide-web’s searches.

Since I originally wrote this I have run searches with a dozen post titles with exactly the same results. I have also clicked to almost two dozen “Trip Advisor” results from Google searches and note that the average number of sentences on these results is four…

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