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.
[Hat tip: Gizmodo]
[Image: Google search via Tutorspree]