Five Things I thought I knew about Google

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After two weeks of work experience at Search Laboratory I now see Google in a whole new light. I've discovered that Google is not just a search engine that is there to find what I'm looking for, it's also an advertising company where other businesses showcase their products and services.

Here are five pre-conceptions about Google that my placement has cleared up:

1. Ads that come up when you search are spam

These ads (pictured below) are not spam sites they are actual, trustworthy sites that are using that space to advertise their company. Although businesses have to pay for every click that goes on to their site.

Google SERPs

2. Businesses that are in the ad section have been randomly selected by Google

Businesses, like the one below, have put their site in the ad section purposefully in an attempt to gain more clicks through to their website. An advert's prominence in the paid search results is decided by both the price of the bid and the quality score of the ad.

PPC ads

3. Results at the top of page one are the closest match to the search

While this particular pre-conception was accurate I had no idea how much work and optimisation – both on the website and using content to leverage third party links – goes into the process. I now have a new found respect for all those number one results for massive keywords like dresses!

number one for dresses

4. It's just a coincidence that the dress you were previously looking at 'follows' you around

This is called re-marketing and businesses use Google and its advertising network to show the user products that they have previously been looking at in the hope that he/she will go back and buy the item.

5. The retailer is genuinely running out of stock of the shoes that you want in your size

The retailer isn't necessarily running out of stock they may just want you to think that they are so as to make the purchase appear time critical – the hope is that this entices you to buy the product right there and then.