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What Do You Think of Google? (Unscientific!) Usability Report

So, Google doesn’t like to sit still. Whether you feel this is innovative or annoying it is one thing and that’s inescapable. Pretty much everyone on the planet uses or is influenced by Google in some way, shape or form. It’s a key component of business, contributes to online marketing, connects all corners of the world and is the undisputed ultimate heavyweight encyclopaedia! Due to its universal nature it needs to cater to and perform optimally for a lot of tastes – for this reason I’ve spent some time gathering opinions from different users of Google and their perceptions of its usability for their own purposes.

Users with specific intent
I asked people who used Google when looking for something specific like a service, for example a nail bar or car garage what they thought. These predominantly reported that oftentimes the best results hover around page 3. With some of the not-so-good results coming up before it seems as if tactical SEO still plays a part here. Those firms that employ it versus those who don’t could come out on top; perhaps more work needs to be done to filter these results and make them more naturally representative.

SEO folk
Opinion here is understandably more detailed and specific! Two SEO folk I spoke to spoke of the tabs around the site. One noting the loss of the news tab, another the Google Analytics tab, opinion appears to vary from user to user though and I imagine there’s a way of dictating what comes where on the home page interface. Adding my personal view to this, obviously with biased eyes too I find the results good on a day to day basis. I can usually find what I’m looking for although I do frequently have to use a “Google” head, when searching directly for what I want adding in time frames, dates or different phrasing or wording often yields the best results but I wonder if regular users would think to do this?

Big Biscuits CEO
This opinion is from a social media authority that loves Google just the way it is! She hasn’t noticed much with the introduction of Google+ results and still thinks it has great usability: “I love Google and the way you search. It always predicts the right results and it’s been easier since the tab with the news and other bits have been added. I like the virility of real-time and most viewed/nearest on the home page”.

Business searches
A local businessman with a good online presence for his company who uses Google for business purposes; scoping out clients, staying on top of industry news and events and researching into ideas and other firms. He enjoys it too and when I mentioned about ads, not only did he say that these weren’t excessive, they must be subtle because he barely even notices them! He recognizes PPC ads though and tends to look below these as he believes organic results show a higher relevancy.

Occasional user
This user uses Google to find specific websites for example to get onto eBay and for eCommerce purposes. They didn’t have much of an opinion but did say that even for well known sites such as eBay that they still often go through Google to get onto these. It seems to be the default and they liked the fact that typing in big names gets you to the right URL eliminating the need to guess where the hyphen is or if you’re looking for a .com or .org. Without the knowledge that redirects should take you there whatever you type in, this is how they use Google, as a solid and reliable stepping stone.

Despite all the changes and the increases in ads usability seems to have remained at a good level. For those whom Google is literally just a search engine it is perfect, for those looking for the best choice its ok but does not deliver best results on the first page and for those with a bit more knowledge, the ins and outs don’t seem to detract from what it does best – be a search engine. To celebrate this we’ve got a fun video from What Do You Love? Searching across numerous Google products with one click. Please leave your comments below!

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