On this lovely week of Valentine’s Day I thought I would have a little fun with the holiday and with the search for love from an SEO perspective. It can teach us a little bit about search engines and the mind of searchers. According to the Google keyword tool, the term “love” is searched 550,000 times per month on Google. This is a pretty large number for such a general and vague search term. In recent years, what we once called the “long tail” keywords have gotten more difficult to search because Google looks at semantics and tries to figure out what you are searching for by what most people search for rather than forcing you to get more and more specific or adding geographic terms (they give you results based on your location, etc.)
However, just from looking at the search results for love, we see both Google and Bing have pretty different ideas (from a search algorithmic perspective) on how to handle that search. Think about it. What does someone searching for just the word “love” really want from a search engine? (fyi, I did these searches without being logged in to either engine, so they may know my location, but no my specific login info)
Let’s start by looking at what Google thinks you want:
Google leads off with an Adwords ad. Of course they don’t want to lose that chance to make a buck on ppc. I’m not sure if this company is doing the greatest targeting to show up here, but I can’t see their data, so maybe this term converts for them. It is for a meditation center in New Mexico. They have a page addressing “What is Love” and offer you the opportunity to donate to them if you’d like. You can also come to their events.
Once we get to organic search, it is no surprise that Google leads off with their wikipedia page on love. This makes sense. If someone is searching for the term, perhaps they just want the definition, though the more definitive source Merriam Webster, is relegated to the third spot.
The second spot goes to Brainy Quote with a page on quotes including the word love. Once you get past this, you are shown some images for love and more quotes. These are below the fold. This is followed by news on “Love”, which is led by a story on basketball Kevin Love on this particular day. Further down we see a “Love” magazine and some other quotes and songs and articles on love. Interestingly enough in this week of Valentine’s Day, I did not see a single mention of the holiday.
Bing has a completely different take:
Bing went at it completely differently, choosing to lead with imagery. Where Google put it below the fold, Bing put the images right at the top of the page, without even a ppc ad above it. Depending on the size of type in your browser, the images can actually take up the entire above the fold area, with two rows of images. Just beneath that is an archive site of some kind with selections that I believe are about love (the first one is not in English). Bing then follows up with videos about love and tweets about love. They never actually provide the definition, which is interesting to me. Again, no mention of Valentine’s Day in their results either.
Yahoo’s take on Love:
I have to give Yahoo credit, I think their version of the results may have gotten it best for timeliness and relevance. Though they borrow from Bing, so you expect to see some of that there, they lead with a ppc ad, like Google, monetizing this search. They then follow with the images, like Bing. T hey do make sure to get a reputable dictionary definition from dictionary.reference.com, which makes more sense to me than Google and Bing. They follow up with wikipedia, which seems like a better placement to me. They follow this with “Stories of Love”, with one referencing Valentine’s Day, so they appear more aware of the time. They follow with videos, another definition, a wiki how article on “how to love” and a love calculator. A very nice variety to hit a number of possible search motives. I like it.
Defenders of Yahoo or Bing will tell you that the search history tells them that this is what the user wants so that is why they have fewer different possibilities available, and that is probably true, but for a vague search like this, I want to see options, and I think Yahoo did a good job. Makes sense that I found Yahoo offered the best take on love. I met my wife through Yahoo.