A year and a half ago, I co-wrote a piece about Google's expanded broad match with my longtime colleague, Dorothy Weaver. Since that time, expanded broad match has continually irritated sophisticated search marketers. Imagine running a landing page test on a specific keyword, like "office furniture," only to later learn that additional queries like "wooden bookcases" and "metal file cabinet" were also triggering the ad. This frustrated me at first, but I quickly learned to combat it with frequent search query report audits and by stripping the search query from the referrer; however, I now wonder if expanded broad match could have more serious revenue implications for Google.
Most advertisers actually have higher conversion rates on Yahoo and Microsoft, but continue to spend more with Google. Makes sense, since Google is the leader in terms of market share. With all the time that has passed since the introduction of expanded broad match, it is apparent that these broadened results have not broken or even affected the Google habit.Au contraire, mon frère. Google's market share has actually continued to grow. So what could do it?
Over the years, I have enjoyed being the go-to person at my company for everything Google. This has led to the collection of some interesting Google errors that colleagues pass along believing that I hold the answer. My personal favorite was an error for "impatience " a team member received in July of 2006: Give your mouse a break. It looks like you may have clicked the same link twice. Relax for a moment, give us a chance to respond to your first request, and then click your browser back button and try again. Thanks for your patience. - a Google engineer
Most recently, our office was plagued with a "We're sorry" error on several search queries. The error claimed that our query looked similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. Our SEO team had not been doing any automated crawls that may have triggered this and the queries we were receiving it on were original searches, not necessarily the keywords we check every day. Of course we know this measure is to protect advertisers from fraud, but if these types of errors ever became widespread, I do believe a frustrated user would eventually go elsewhere...even if only for a brief time.
So, can the habit be broken? Will there ever be a Google killer? Honestly, I do not think so, nor do I hope so. What I do look forward to is competition versus domination. I'll leave you with this food for thought: When searching the phrase "break a habit" on Google, Yahoo and MSN, I found the best answer atop the results of MSN. The organic listing from eHow.com stated, "Habits are automatic behaviors that can be changed with patience and persistence."