Google Vagaries

There are times when Google or any other search engine seems intuitive beyond belief.  And then there are simple queries that confound me.

Many folks were not surprised but taken a little aback when major local categories such as “pizza” began showing up in results pages.  The search engine identifies the area where the searcher is located and assumes that these very local searches are for the area you’re in now.

That’s not much help if you’re looking for something later in the day or for a trip, but it’s a massive time saver, effectively turning Google into a dynamic yellow pages. Except when the thing doesn’t work.  That’s when you get goofy results, the kind that confuse your clients and their customers.   While searching for medical records at a large suburban Washington, D.C. hospital for a medical client, my initial search showed… The Washington Post private labeling a yellow pages listing.



This is pretty normal.  Inova, the hospital’s parent company, doesn’t even show until a local mental health practice and job listings at    While this is how most people would search, let’s cluster the phrases in quotation marks.


We get to see the hospital in the second position, but the yellow page like information still sits on top of the page.  Search engines are working hard to tune their results to what they believe is the searcher’s intent.  Unfortunately, read the descriptions before you click.  The search world is still caveat emptor.

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