Weird Google Titles: PC World = Mothercare

Mar 7, 2012 • 8:35 am | comments (24) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine
 

A Google Webmaster Help thread reports an interesting possible glitch by Google on how they match the title in the search results for PC World UK to the title tag of that page. PC World is about computers but the title in the Google search results matches on Mothercare for some reason.

Here is a screen shot for when you search Google for [PC Word Teesside Park]:

Google: PC World = Mothercare

But if you look at the title tag in the source code of the page, it doesn't say anything about mothercare:

PC World Title Tag

I am not sure what exactly is going on here, but sometimes SEOs find these weird outlier cases to be interesting and something they can learn from.

Googler Pierre Far said, "I've passed on your report to the relevant team internally."

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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Comments:

Adam Miller

03/07/2012 01:50 pm

From what I've found I think this is due to an error from one of the citation sources used (see  http://uk.wowcity.com/hartlepool/?what=digital+camera+consumer+products). They've listed Mothercare (which is located at the same address as other businesses as well as PC World), have used Mothercare's phone number but have linked to PC World (as well as using PC World's URL as the anchor). This passes through an internal tracking page first of all so isn't a direct link. TLDR; My gut feeling is Wowcity citation source made a cock-up, Google trusts its citation sources too much and took the wrong URL from the source.

Alex Masters

03/07/2012 01:53 pm

Could this glitch be in some way linked with PC World's 'Mastercare' product cover plan? Perhaps somewhere deep in the algorithmic depths of Google's search jiggery pokery they may have incorrectly replaced the word 'Mastercare' with 'Mothercare' in a bid to correct what it thinks is a misspelt word, thus creating the following weird anomaly when combined with the same address details and what not that Adam Miller cleverly pointed out. I'm just riffing here, so ignore me if I'm a total loon.

Dudibob

03/07/2012 01:58 pm

I think Adam Miller has hit the nail on the head there.  The result for me is displaying more as an integrated map result which is probs why Google is using the Wowcity data rather than PC World's own data.

Paul Martin

03/07/2012 01:58 pm

It's a manual c*ck up, isn't it? The title is being pulled from their places page which has to be manually submitted. Someone seems to have put in the title of places page as Mothercare but the URL of PC World. I wonder if the same agency does both firms' SEO? There may be an awkward phone call on its way...!

Diego

03/07/2012 02:00 pm

This is done so visitors click on ads. I run a study on this, not scientific but it was clear that Google was trying to have users click on ads and not on my site. This is the new Google

Diego

03/07/2012 02:04 pm

I can find 20000 other sources that link to it correctly.  However, Mothercare was chosen by the algorithm because it's financially beneficial for Google. Instead of clicking on "PCWorld" you click on an ad and that's a key component of the algorithm.

Alex Masters

03/07/2012 02:29 pm

Really? I don't believe that for a second. Google do not proactively try and devalue their core business just to make minimal extra revenue via non relevant ads. If they were a struggling business for poor management employing desperate measures then maybe yes.... but they're not.

Revax Media

03/07/2012 02:31 pm

I found this :) 

Adam Miller

03/07/2012 02:31 pm

I don't think that's the case- the address used in this Google Places listing is a retail park so there are a handful of other companies that this could be as well as Mothercare if your theory is correct. I think it raises an interesting point though- one mistake from a third party site has resulted in the wrong phone number and title showing up for PC World in a popular UK shopping location. Wouldn't be too happy if I were them!

Barry Schwartz

03/07/2012 02:33 pm

I never took credit for it, I linked to your post.

Diego

03/07/2012 02:34 pm

Devalue? Adding Google+ and Youtube and...is not devaluing? Google has run numbers and realized they don't have serious competition. Most users cannot tell on what they click, ad or regular link.

Diego

03/07/2012 02:46 pm

Google is desperate for new revenue and growth, I take you do not read much, or you would seen how they increased clicks by 33% last quarter. When Google needs more revenue they squeeze search, again and again, because that's they only thing they have. If Google stops growing as Wall Street expect, their stock will crash and that creates lot of financial, hiring and public relations problems. Read my son, read.

Alex Masters

03/07/2012 03:07 pm

"This is done so visitors click on ads." - The idea that Google would purposely degrade the quality of their search engine results to get ad clicks is silly. Without good search results they would lose relevance and people would move to other services. In that scenario Google would lose both search traffic AND ad clicks. "When Google needs more revenue they squeeze search, again and again, because that's they only thing they have." - Search is obviously not the only thing that Google has. How is Google+ and YouTube devaluing Google search results? Please explain. "Most users cannot tell on what they click, ad or regular link." - I'm pretty sure most users can tell the difference between Mothercare and PC World. 

Diego

03/07/2012 03:24 pm

"Without good search results they would lose relevance and people would move to other services" -- To Bing? They are a lot of shades of degradation and each shade has it's pluses (ad money) and minuses (what you said.) The money side has been winning a lot lately. I know it for a fact that during each update testing, clicks on ads are a major thing they look to. No, I don't buy the fairy tale that search VPs and execs are not in the know how the change is affecting 99% of Google's income. "I'm pretty sure most users can tell the difference between Mothercare and PC World. " -- This is a unique case and embarrassingly bad for Google. This was not done manually but it's a side effect of "let's go with an algo that makes money for us." A great result for Google would for the results to be OK, but not great, so ad clicks increase. So the the first result or two are OK but ads are really great when it comes to relevancy.  All those PHD statisticians spend their time on this, wake up.

Scott

03/07/2012 04:08 pm

duh, that's just a mix up of google local address places page

Alex Masters

03/07/2012 04:09 pm

Google creating OK, but not great, search results would have a direct negative effect on the quality of their product and would reduce the accuracy of their profiles for each individual search user. If they provide poor search results that users then click - or don't click in favour of irrelevant ads - then Google subsequently creates poor quality profiles of its users, reducing the effective accuracy of high quality targeted ads. Google is in it or the long haul not for a quick profit. High quality search is their most valuable asset. Of course they look at ad revenue while testing new features but they will not sacrifice quality results for ad revenue. In short: they will never proactively reduce the quality of their search results in the hope to reap small and unsustainable gains in revenue at the cost of users, reputation and future earnings. The fact that you carried out your study based on the fact that you believe Google was trying to have users click on ads and not on your site makes it seem as though your views may not be as unbiased as they should be. Were your results conclusive or are they assumption? Perhaps speak with some Google employees to see if they can help you clarify what happened to you. It's obvious in the case mentioned in this post that the incorrect result is merely an algorithm mix up rather than a tactical move on Google's part for extra ad revenue.

Diego

03/07/2012 04:32 pm

Google "would never do this" went right outside of the window a while back, only kool-aid drinkers believe it now. Why would I talk to Google about it, of course they'll deny it?  Google does take ad revenue in mind when designing the algo. How far they go, we don't exactly know but we can see a few things.

Bazza

03/07/2012 05:00 pm

There is a Google 'place' that has the same address for the Mothercare store there. If you click on the 'place' marker (to left of 'Teeside Retail Park', it will take you there. Seems to be that Google has poisoned their own search results, with the results of their 'places'.

Bazza

03/07/2012 05:01 pm

Ah. And the Google 'place' has mixed data between Mothercare and PC World.

Bazza

03/07/2012 05:02 pm

The article initially threw me, as it's searching for "PC *Word*" - not "PC World".

pervezalam

03/09/2012 06:00 am

Yes i think it is google Search Problem. I was also facing this type of problem in search results with my 2 webstie in December 11 and  January -12 but  after it i amendment in my title and in the next cache my problem was solved out

Mat Fay

03/09/2012 05:07 pm

Looks like Google merging listings that have the same address, we've seen this before in other industries, looking at the categories listed, they're mixed up, what are the chances of associating computer software and baby care being human error, given the manual setup process? ...slim. 

James Robinson

03/09/2012 05:16 pm

Simple case of merged listings. This happens frequently when Place listings share the same or even very similar addresses. I would say it is quite likely that Mothercare has the stronger citations, so PC World was merged into it. In any case, it looks like the Places team have gone in and removed the pcworld.co.uk URL. To prevent it remerging PCworld need to make a very distinct Places page (add a lot more detail to the page), and work on building their citations with Yell, 118 118 etc

Revax Media

04/03/2012 03:58 pm

 Oh, I know :)

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