Dumbing down with Google
Google may return the most accurate search results, thus its dominance in this sector, but what is not so well know is the dumbing down it creates on the web due to its extensive dominance. Here goes.
Ever tried a search with and without an ‘s’? With and without an apostrophe? If yes, that’s because you already know that the results will be different. Unless you are searching for this specifically-typed phrase, there is no reason why the search results should be different. After all, the meaning is the same. Yet a search for ‘womens rights’ and ‘women’s rights’ return slightly different results as shown in the image below. Try and find your own search queries now.
Last 7 results from Google for ‘womens rights’, above.
Last 7 results from Google for ‘women’s rights’, above.
The consequences of this? People start writing poor grammar in the hope that the search engine will pick up their phrase and show them in the search engine’s results. Most searchers for convenience type their search queries without apostrophes. Now, you can’t blame Google for showing what it wants in its results. But publishers should be writing for users and not search engines.
Yet here is a newspaper which clearly does not care for its readers. The screenshot below is that of an article published online by The North Wales Chronicle. It seems to have been written for the search engines only, with mispellings on purpose, even in the title. In fact, the article contains 28 instances of the grammatically incorrect term ‘mens’ without apostrophe. Sounds also like keyword stuffing. This is a blatant case of the newspaper writing specifically for savilerowco.com to boost them for ‘mens suits’ queries in Google.
North Wales Chronicle’s poor grammar. Copy and paste the following in your browser to view the full article: northwaleschronicle.co.uk/news/86127/get-the-right-look-with-the-right-mens-suits.aspx
Visitors, start voting with your feet (or cursor here) and boycott sites that cannot be bothered to write for you. If they choose their main audience to be Google, then let it be so. There are many other sites out there that will welcome your readership.