Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Google is NOT the internet. Is it?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been working late nights on my wife’s website, and I’ve been having a few browser problems. I kind of expected those, and have got round some of the problems, and fixed others. What I didn’t expect was my users not finding the site.

As beta testers, I used some friends and family. Basically, I sent them the link in an email.

I assumed that they’d click on the link and get the site on their default browser, or at worst, they’d cut and paste the link into the address bar of the browser of their choice. I know you should never assume anything when it comes to users, but it seemed a safe assumption to make.

Anyway, a few days later, one particular person said they couldn’t get to the website. I checked, and the site was up. I told her to try again, and she said, it’s not working. Baffled, I went away, and checked some more. It was there. To cut a long story short, I interrogated her again, and found out she was cutting and pasting the url into Google, and doing a search. She just doesn’t use the address bar. The site now comes up first with the url as the search text, but 1 or 2 days after I’d gone live, the Googlebots hadn’t got round to it yet.

This user was baffled as to how she couldn’t find it. I explained about the address bar, and that Google is NOT the internet, but just a search engine, and that it happens to search a database it maintains of the internet. And the internet being a fluid thing, the database is by necessity just a snapshot of the internet. She just couldn’t understand it. To her, if it isn’t on Google, then it’s not on the internet. Am I the only one feeling slightly uncomfortable about this? I’m sure this person is not the only person in the world who thinks that Google is the internet. That’s an awful lot of power in the hands of one company.

9 comments:

Ashwin said...

Far out! There's another address bar aside from the google search bar! :)

Jokes aside, I normally always do that myself too, copying text such as movie names, book titles (instead of going to the website I usually would goto like imdb or amazon), even web addresses! So I'm not that surprised at all to see there are quite a few people out there that believe google itself is the "internet".

Xepol said...

Yer late to the party. Yes, if it isn't on Google, it doesn't exist for most people. Yes, lawsuits are already flying over the result of google's importance, google rankings and business's viability. It will probably be a few more years before the courts figure it out tho.

Oh, and if it helps, explain google like a phone book or 411 (information), where as the address bar is like dialing direct. People understand that 411 and phonebooks can be out date for new information.

Anonymous said...

I just searched on Google for this page (http://thedorictemple.blogspot.com/2009/03/google-is-not-internet-is-it.html) and I found out it's not on the internet! Maybe she is blond...

Eric said...

Well, it might be worse than you think...

Just a month ago I launched DelphiTools.info, this is a site linked only from developer sites, and one could assume visited mostly by developers that can tell a search bar from an address bar..
And now that the first search engines stats are appearing, right in the top searches is the website's own URL... I wasn't sure why, but with your post, I guess the reason is made obvious!

Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

The average user has a very small Computer repertoire. My girlfriend also just enters queries into the address bar. That's "Googling" as far as she's concerned, but that there's a company behind that, she doesn't know.

So many users still write keypress and mouse-click sequences on yellow post-its.

Most support calls are horrified users that probably just accidentally hit a hotkey combination and "something happened".

I laugh when Microsoft claims to be making the next Windows version easier to use. Every "improvement" just means those postits get rewritten.

format71 said...

I think I know why people uses google search instead of direct addressing.

Google is a very good spell-checker. If you type something wrong in the adressbar, you either get a page not found-page, or worse, a link-site or something similar.

When you type something wrong into googles searchbox you get a hint about it, and mostly, you get a link to the right site too.

Giel said...

I also know at least one person who types any address in the google search box....

Olaf Monien said...

Anything which is not in Google, is not on the Internet. Doesn't that mean that Google IS the internet? ;-)

format71 said...

"Anything which is not in Google, is not on the Internet." Internet is just a subset of Google...