Search engine misoptimization

Did you mean Ozzy Osbourne’s “(Peppermint) Bark at the Moon”?

I was online last night, hoping to find a very specific Christmas gift for someone. Google offered several “sponsored links.” Companies pay Google a mystery amount for placement when someone searches for this term. Bid more, rank higher. It’s consumer capitalism at its finest, and what could be more appropriate for this time of year?

On this particular item, the first page of eight sponsored links were:

  1. Plow and Earth went directly to the specific product. Lovely presentation, with an extreme close-up photo sure to trigger a Pavlovian response. (No nutrition, ingredient, or “Made by people who are nuts” disclaimer.)
  2. Crate & Barrel’s link eventually went to a “We can’t find your item” page. However, entering the term in their site’s search engine worked.
  3. Amazon’s link was also less direct, but their similarities engine suggested correct products. Curiously, if you strip off the last google tag, it doesn’t know what to do with the search.
  4. The least useful result was Target‘s. Sure, it goes to their gift store, but their gift store has no knowledge of this product. In fact, it suggests Ozzy Osbourne’s CD, Bark at the Moon. So cheerful! The 36 other products, all in music, have either “peppermint” or “bark” somewhere in the description.

  5. Norm Thompson’s link went to their store’s homefront. Their site’s search engine shows me the correct product, with useful information like the nutrition (which for this, you don’t want to know), ingredients and “Manufactured in a facility that processes nuts”. Good Job!
  6. Brookstone sends me to the specific product page. It’s a pretty picture, but the page lacks information on the quantity of product for the price.
  7. Shopzilla — some kind of search engine.
  8. eBay — this actually linked correctly to the list of products. As with anything on eBay, caveat eater.

It’s interesting that several companies have targeted searches, but haven’t put the additional effort into making the keyword they’re bidding on go to the specific product.

6 thoughts on “Search engine misoptimization”

  1. I’d consider Target’s result to be better than the Amazon and Crate & Barrel results. At least it wasn’t “no results”.

  2. The completely wrong results of Target made me think their search engine was stupid. I liked how Amazon attempted to suggest (in this case accurately) similar items.

    The general search is sometimes weird. For example, if I query on “Cheese Danish”, the top, left “Narrow Your Search” shows:
    Books (897)
    Gourmet Food (53)
    Kitchen & Housewares (50)
    Home & Garden (50)
    Health & Personal Care (2)

    I get a lot of “Danish pattern cheese knives”.

    (Yes, I was curious: the “Health and Personal Care” section goes to two cheese danish-flavored lip balms.)

    I wish they’d get rid of the stupid “Customers Vote” feature.

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