Searching For Apples? Good Luck!

Aug 10, 2010 • 8:00 am | comments (10) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine

A WebmasterWorld thread has issues with a search in Google for [apples]. The searcher uses this as an example to say that Google's search results are simply "horrible" and "getting worse."

What do you expect when you search for [apples]? Do you expect Apple computers or Apple the fruit? Here is his marked up screen shot that make the Google results even look worse:


Now, if you compare that to Bing's [apples], you get very different results. Apple computers is only one result and in the middle of the page. Yahoo isn't great but that will change.

Clearly this is one example of many searches. Tedster said:

That's an example of the Google "intention engine" misfiring. It's ignoring the "s" for 8/10 results, and that's not very smart at all.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: August 9, 2010


Mike Randow

08/10/2010 01:01 pm

That is understandably that Google would display results that are related t both term: "Apple" and "Apples". Google initial searches the internet in broad match (not going into the differences here) not matter if a term is singular or plural. So it does becomes quite quickly clear than that the term "Apple" bring higher results, as more people are referring to that term. If however you change the search query to phrase or exact, the result page will look completely different. But putting this argument on the side, Google should still be able to display a wider variety of result, regarding both terms (including Apple -> the fruit itself). This result page just show how commercial Google really is in the end, and how much it can be manipulated. See also "Click here" example.


08/10/2010 02:51 pm

For Bing I'm seeing mostly Apple Inc related results too. In order: Apple.Com Wikipedia - Apple Apple Store (UK) Wikipedia - Apple Inc


08/10/2010 03:00 pm

At least the PPC ads are mostly relevant - except the one from another search engine. LOL

Frank Marcel

08/10/2010 03:10 pm

Has anyone tried to search for "apples -apple" (only results with the "s")? No Steve Jobs' apples around! ;)


08/10/2010 03:12 pm

not true in regard to bing, same results! And the LOL is @ bing for paying google for advertising #win for google that microsoft advertises with them! And regarding the term Apple vs Apples thats a oneoff example because singularly its an entirely different meaning, rare exception and google will not hardcode those type of exceptions so be it for those terms I am sure you can dig up more (search on Google and Bing "House" littered results for the TV show instead of houses or homes either way these are tough exceptions that all search engines struggle with)


08/10/2010 03:24 pm

I saw Bruce Clay give a similar example for "hammer" and that was at SMX I believe, so awhile ago. When doing the "apples" search I at least get the "All About Apples" link at #2. Who knows...

David Szetela

08/10/2010 04:30 pm

Great post - thanks! The screen shot divulges another Google algorithm flaw: apostrophes are ignored, despite the fact that they signal very well the meaning and intent of the search query.


08/10/2010 07:25 pm

Frank- thats a great idea :)


08/11/2010 03:42 am

Did you have personalized search on or off in your google settings? Did you previously search for apples from that browser and click on apple computer related results?


08/11/2010 11:56 am

I searched google from the UK having removed my search history. 5/10 results related to apples (fruit) and all PPC ads were again for fruit. Though it is more natural for the casual user to search not having switched browser/removed history...surprisingly more apples related sites appeared in my regular browser - unsurprisingly, all the commercial sites appeared higher up the rankings.

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