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Are You As Satisfied With The Google Experience As You Used To Be?

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Are You As Satisfied With The Google Experience As You Used To Be?
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Research out this week from Foresee finds that customer satisfaction with Google (and other search engines and social networks) is down significantly. The firm suggests that the proliferation of advertising (especially in search engines) is “diminishing the customer experience.”

Do agree? Are ads making the search experience worse? Are you less satisfied with Google or other search engines than you were in the past? What about social networks? Let us know in the comments.

According to Foresee, the e-business category (portals and search engines, social media and online news and information sites) dropped 3.9% to 71.3 on ACSI’s 100-point scale. 22% of search engine visitors polled cited ads as what they liked least about them. E-business is seeing its lowest score in a decade.

“Advertising may be the necessary evil of e-business,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee. “Most e-businesses begin as a free service to gain traction with consumers and increase market share, but eventually they need to find a way to monetize their business. Unfortunately, consumers generally perceive the increase in advertising as detracting from their online experience.”

“From 10,000 feet, the erosion of customer satisfaction with e-business suggests that the sector will have a bumpy road ahead. But the battle for customer preference is playing out at the customer-level,” said ACSI founder and chairman Claes Fornell. “Companies that can find a way to make money without compromising the customer experience will please both its users and investors.”

While satisfaction with social networks is down, the research attributes the overall trend in e-business to dissatisfaction with search engines and portals, which is the largest category of the sector. The category saw a 3.8% drop to 76 – its lowest score since 2007.Google’s score is down 6% to 77, but things aren’t looking any better for its rivals. Bing is down 6%, Yahoo is down 3%.

“The satisfaction scores make it appear to be a closer race, but it is still only a battle for second when it comes to search engines,” said Freed. “Nearly half of Google visitors use the site for most of their searches, while no other search engine comes even close to that kind of loyalty. Lower satisfaction across the board is leading more consumers to use multiple search engines or try a vertical search approach to get the information they’re looking for, though this is less true for Google.”

The report says that the number of people who use Google exclusively for search has stayed consistent, while the proportion of exclusive users of other search engines has declined since last year. It says that search engines not named Google experienced an average drop of 30% in primary users, which are described as those who identify the site as their primary search engine.

Social media is also failing to live up to customer satisfaction expectations with the category falling 1.4% to a score of 68.

“The noise factor can detract from immersive experiences like Facebook and Twitter. Neither one is curated or edited, so users have to filter through ads, banter and irrelevant posts to find useful or entertaining threads or connections,” said Eric Feinberg, Foresee senior director of mobile, media and entertainment. “Wikipedia, as a managed site without advertising, doesn’t have that problem.”

Wikipedia, which in my opinion should probably be put into the information sites category rather than social media, holds the top position in the category with a score of 72.

Here’s an infographic Foresee put out to showcase its findings:

ebusiness satisfaction

Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land shares some interesting charts from the research.

Online marketer AJ Kohn (Blind Five Year Old) comments on the Search Engine Land piece, “I think the advertising explanation is tremendously weak. Instead, I’d offer that the frequency of search is rising (those strange comScore numbers) and that they’re being performed on different devices (phones and tablets). High expectations of search success coupled with greater frequency of searches on a variety of devices would likely frustrate a subset of users.”

Still, there are certainly plenty who think the Google experience, in particular has become to ad heavy, or at least ad and Google’s own product-heavy. A post by Aaron Harris at Tutorspree called “How Googel is Killing Organic Search” made the rounds earlier this month provoking an industry discussion about this very topic. While SEL’s Danny Sullivan does a great job of putting this whole thing into context with a number of caveats, the main finding in the post was that a particular query had Google only dedicating 13% of the page to true organic search results.

On the other hand, there are times when ads and/or Google’s own products can provide satisfactory results. In fact, Google is clearly hoping to satisfy users on its own without having to point them to other sites with the whole Knowledge Graph thing. But are users actually satisfied with the results they’re getting?

Are you more or less satisfied with Google than you were in years past? How about with other search engines or social networks? Let us know in the comments.

Are You As Satisfied With The Google Experience As You Used To Be?
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There are 42 Comments. Add Yours.
  1. 2 1
    Alex M.

    Interesting infographic, if a bit superfluous. I don’t think Google’s going anywhere from the Most Popular internet source. Anyway, I like some of the changes they’ve made of late, particularly with Google+, which should, hopefully, go onto being a popular social media tool. And by popular I mean people will actually use it.

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    and i also love your patience for your website how you regular you are.
    thanks sir

  3. 6 0

    To be honest, I hate Google now. It’s become pretty obvious that they everything they do is geared towards getting more income from their ads, rather than delivering quality results.

  4. 5 0

    The quality of google search has continued to decline. The results are heavily favoring the large sites such as Amazon, Sears, Target and Overstock. Amazon is spamming the pages with products and work press documents that Google is picking up as legit sites.

  5. 6 0

    First Google either delisted or punished those of us with affiliate links on our sites. Google did that so they can now capitalize on all the affiliate products. Their sponsored picture ads are their own affiliate links.

    Their search results now cater mostly to big box retailers and large companies. They are no longer friendly to small business.

    In other words, their search results suck!

    • 3 0

      I’ll second that.

  6. 6 0

    I am not dissatisfied with Google because of the advertising. I am dissatisfied with them because they have SO MUCH SPAM in their search results from Amazon. I can type in a product code and eight of the top ten results are not Amazon directly, but rather spam pages that take you to the product on Amazon. I am dissatisfied with Google because they have made the playing field so unlevel now that they have made the product feed pay only. I am dissatisfied with Google because of the news about their nefarious activities I hear about almost daily. I used to be a huge fan of Google – for years and years – and used them almost exclusively. They have made companies and broken companies with their search results. I suspect that they have everything cranked in to their algorithm these days and they now wield enormous power online. They have created an environment online where smaller businesses can barely survive today, unlike the way things were in the early days of the internet when anyone had a chance. I switched to Bing as my main search engine last year and have better search results that are not as dominated by one or two players.

  7. 6 0

    I agree with those who say that Google is not the company it once was. They have little regard for the consumer and are only interested in how much more money they can squeeze out of any of their products, including search. Too bad the general public doesn’t get it yet.

    • 3 0

      Forgot to say that I only use Bing now too. Will never use Google search again. Better results on Bing.

  8. 5 0

    Google has gotten greedy. Their latest act of putting in ads that looks like any other email within our emails on gmail(promotions tab) is testimony to their immense greed. They are killing small businesses. They now want it all. I hope this changes – but alas it doesnt seem likely.

  9. 3 0

    Google would have even less searches/use if we (my self included) didn’t use them because of habit.

    Bottom line with all of googles changes them have killed my small online business. I’ve no real choice now except to do the eBay thing which sucks in a different way !

  10. The algorithm updates still haven’t made search results any better. Their ads just don’t work (except mobile) the new Gmail interface is going to kill the newsletter. Everything I see is designed to increase spending on ads that don’t work.

  11. As a small independent website operator, Google has become an unreliable business partner and we are doing everything we can to develop alternative sources for organic search, with some success, mainly focusing on social media. While Google should be commended for trying to curb spam sites, its frequent algorithm changes are so broad and sweeping they have hurt mostly small business sites that aren’t part of large corporate networks. Google’s over-reliance on backlinks as a measure of authority without regard to content quality has allowed many sites to “game the system” by creating “link bait.” These sites post stories that are largely false but attract links from other sites because of their sensational claims, usually based on anonymous sources. This penalizes sites that try to report actual news and promote journalistic standards on the web. We stopped using Google adsense long ago, because their rates are no longer competitive and they place too many restrictions on content. Google is still a large part of what we do, because of their search dominance, but it’s no longer the focus of our efforts to build traffic.

  12. 8 0

    Google’s results suck now and I’m sick of them trying to dictate the direction on the web to webmasters.
    Since the changes, I have started using Bing much more and have grown quite fond of the experiences with it.

  13. No, I am no longer happy with Google as my prime search. I’m sick and tired of hearing how Google is making an effort to improve “MY” experience by changing how they list things. And then the first things I see are that “Target” and other retailers are supposedly offering what I am looking for! When did Target and others start offering EVERYTHING— no matter what the subject is??? Machine parts? concrete molds? Vacuum forming equipment? I think Google— and probably others are selling their souls for the dollars, and really could care less about the consumer or searcher. By screwing up the key-word searching, they are forcing businesses to use Google’s ADWORDS PPC since many of these companies have been knocked out of the ORGANIC searches— which is what I thought Google was all for.

    I now am using and trying other search engines— just like I now watch HBO, SHOWTIME, and other non-commercial airing networks whenever possible. I’m sick of being force-fed what the powers that be, (Google) “think” I want. I know what I want!

    John McKenzie Panagos

  14. Our satisfaction with Google is mixed. As a small business, it’s gratifying to see somebody different free services that they offer that I honestly don’t know how we would operate our business without them. On the other hand, I am annoyed (and worried) that the blending of search results with advertising is getting blurred to the point where I won’t be surprised if pretty soon you won’t be able to distinguish between an organic listing and a paid one.

  15. 1 0

    I have tried to contact google and youtube regarding a post of a video being removed but no mater how any time I get in touch no one will reply so no I am very dissatisfied with google and youtube.

  16. I haven’t noticed anything different as far as the volume of ads served up on Google search results. I have noticed an increase in sponsored Tweets and sponsored Facebook posts, which relates to Facebook’s stock price jumping today.

  17. At this rate we will get back to the days when no one knew search engines and social networks

  18. 7 0

    It isn’t the ads that bug me so much as the quality of the search results. For generic searches, the results are ok, but try to find something a little esoteric and you get nothing relevant. As others have said, it’s like we’re back in the bad ol’ days before Google came in and just made everything easy. Now we need someone else to come in and make it easy again.

  19. 1 1

    Part of the dissatisfaction is the privacy intrusion and well how the Tech companies lied, then lied again then gave us shiny blimps in the sky to distract us and then admitted but blamed the government.

    Do no evil?

    The ad intrusion is another factor, loosing more space on the organic page and well just about anything is becoming paid.

    People have spoken and smaller search engines are growing rapidly.

  20. 0 0
    Tommy Brown

    I am more pleased with Google than all the rest.

  21. 6 0

    “The noise factor can detract from immersive experiences like Facebook and Twitter. Neither one is curated or edited, so users have to filter through ads, banter and irrelevant posts to find useful or entertaining threads or connections,” said Eric Feinberg, Foresee senior director of mobile, media and entertainment.

    Eric Feinberg hit the head of the nail. Stop blaming advertising!

    The problem is that Google (among others) have lost focus on their core competence – being a seach engine with search results. They have spent so much time cramming all kinds of social s***, pictures, reviews, picture reviews, likes, plusses and a whole range of other irrelevant nonsense into the search results that they have forgotten the search results. In their attempt to make money by being everything to everybody, they have become almost nothing to those who are looking for search results.

  22. 0 0

    The organic results area keeps getting smaller and smaller in order to fit more ads. But, since a lot of searches don’t bring back ad results, it leaves the right half of the screen blank, which I think is a horrible user experience.

  23. 4 1

    Like so many others say here, my issue with Google is not ads, which I’ve long since learned to completely tune out; my issue is that the quality of search results is plummeting. As if all the emphasis on ‘fresh’ and ‘local’, exchanging my keywords with synonyms and all that crap isn’t bad enough, they seem to have removed the ability to use quotes to find exact matches. And that’s not even mentioning the ‘social’ garbage, which I find downright offensive.

    I was always a little suspicious of Google but years ago there was no question they were the best. Now they are among the worst… if I really want to find something, I go to Bing. Not that Bing is a whole lot better. Oh how I miss the old days…

  24. 0 0
    Samuel G.N. Duncan

    To Many Ads…..It makes the data search much more time consuming and not work the time it takes to get the answers to questions or sites that you once thought was going to be supplied to ourselves.

  25. 0 0

    I agree that advertising is annoying and because of my reaction to it I would not dream of allowing it on our website, except as an additional section promoting related products marketed by other companies on a reciprocal agreement. These adverts would only be viewed on request.

  26. 0 0

    This blog is no doubt interesting and also informative. I have picked up a bunch of interesting advices out of this source. I’d love to return every once in a while. Thanks a bunch!

  27. No, I hate it. It is slower and allowing more pop ups than I ever had before. I would love to get rid of it, but there is nowehere to contact to find out how to delete it.

  28. 4 0

    When u-tube videos come up above legitimate business sites, something’s wrong.

  29. What ads? I guess I have trained myself enough to ignore them. The ads that do bother me are the animated bulls*** on weather.com and other sites. I really do not notice any ads on Google.
    Thus, those paying for ads on Google, are obviously wasting a lot of money. Kind of like TV commercials we fast forward through or ignore. Or changing the radio station when a commercial comes on. Advertising really sucks. Fewer and fewer people pay attention to it, or respond to it. Best ads are in-store ads, usually the buy one get one free today.

  30. 0 0

    I think Google has sold out the the 3rd party marketeers. It one time search results gave the web sites of local businesses. Now the results are dominated not by the companies own web site, but 3rd party companies, those with monthly fees or their own PPC programs.

    to be specific I mean companies like
    Etc, etc, etc

    Seems like a cheap sellout.

    • Google has definitely been what they are in the past, they will definitely continue to be the unprecedented leaders of search and online advertising.

  31. 0 0
    Joan Soldwisch

    I don’t see my response.

  32. 0 0

    Google blended results have turned the SERP into a trashheap of DIY and oddball results

  33. 1 0

    It’s not so much the ads that I think are letting Google down (like others I tend to screen them out and very rarely look at them).

    What I find annoying is searches like “tax returns Camden” that I did this morning looking for someone to do my tax return here in the UK. The top 14 ! results were all from the local authority and had nothing to do with tax returns. When this happens I think it’s safe to say that Google is “broken”.

  34. 0 0

    WHICH ADS? I don’t see ads. I used Adblock and firefox.

  35. 0 0

    Use Adblock and Firefox and you won’t see any ads.

  36. 1 0

    Use ad block

  37. 0 0

    The challenge is finding a way to please both the consumer and the investor. But, would this “wanting the cake and eating it too” be difficult to achieve? From a consumers standpoint, the overwhelming flood of Ads that appear when searching for an item makes it difficult to choose what might be organic and what is considered spammy. Social media platform, Facebook, is packed with Ads and Promoted posts, which makes it even more difficult to stay engaged. I tend to see handfuls of acquaintances and friends recently deleting their Facebook account due to too many ads and being bombarded with pages that aren’t relevant to what their interests are. I think social media platforms and search engines need to reconsider what is best for the consumer instead of just the investor.

  38. 1 0
    Big Jon

    What you fail to mention is the significant drop in useful links. Over the past 6 months the results collected by google vave changed from useful+ads to 99% rubbish, +ads.
    Test it for yourself, type in something you remember getting useful links to, and see. The results now are pathetic.
    One of the most irritating aspects of google is its virtually impossible to talk to them. Like Adobe, you end up talking to their fanboys and not anyone with authority on the matter.

  39. 0 0

    Google is now a bank president–total greedhead and not interested in us. ‘Little’ people. You can’t even talk to a humanbeing at Google. (Google wouldnt let me put a space between, well, you know). Money changes it all. What’s a better one?


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