“Noresults” Reviews and Cost Comparison Shopping: Web Spam in 2009

Marjory Meechan - January 15, 2009

The best pages for customer conversions on a website are the ones that provide the content that the user is looking for. Content is king. Good copywriting, as well as a well-designed site that provides the user with the exact page they are looking for is the key to getting more customer conversions, whether you are driving traffic to your site with search engines or through the new social media marketing channels.

Providing quality content has become increasingly important for effective internet marketing. Google’s algorithm updates and personalized search efforts at the end of 2008 made that clear and there is no reason to believe that this will be changing in 2009. To start off the New Year, Google’s Matt Cutts asked for user feedback on what new web spam Google could target to further improve their results this year. The response was overwhelming, with many good ideas for Google improvements submitted (see the comments for Matt’s summary). From among all the ideas, Google chose to put their first focus for 2009 on making the content in their results pages even more relevant by working on ways to remove or demote “noresults” reviews and cost comparison web spam shopping pages in the search engine results pages and I, for one, couldn’t be happier.

We’ve all seen these “noresults” pages. You type your key phrase into Google (usually something quite specific) and among the list of results you find a listing that reads something like this:

Search for “insert your key phrase here” Find “insert your key phrase here” reviews and price comparisons at Bigonlineshoppingsite.com

Search results for “insert your key phrase here” — Big Online Shopping Site has reviews for “insert your key phrase here”.

However, when you click on the link you find that the site doesn’t really have content to match your query. You find either there are no reviews or they never really had any content matching that phrase in the first place. They just have their system set up to automatically generate pages for popular search queries to try to capture your click. I’m not alone in finding this particularly frustrating. Besides concerns about the accuracy of the Google Maps results, this was perhaps the most popular complaint from Matt’s readers. In fact, many reviewers felt that this should be extended beyond Review and Cost Comparison Shopping sites to large retailers that also display results that have basically no content.

What this means is that as visitors, we can look forward to even better and more relevant results from Google. For retailers, this means that another old “trick” for luring visitors onto your site will be biting the dust and more than ever the quality of the content on your site will be first and foremost in determining your rankings in Google’s results pages.

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