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Why Google Does Not Always Help Your Product Selection

October 24, 2016

Earlier this year, I made a post about product selection where I claimed that those of you who wanted to do a Google search to find products could do it as well as I could in “Making Product Selection Affordable to Everyone.” I got both a response to that AND a new customer with an e-mail that basically said, “No, we can’t do it as easily as you.” I was only moderately skeptical but here’s more evidence that you really CAN’T do it as easily as me as even I’m finding it strange, lately.

When You Know What You’re Looking For
Let’s suppose that you know you want to buy a LIMS and you know that that LIMS would be the LabWare LIMS. You would go into Google and enter something like “labware lims” and you would see a multitude of selections but, at both the top and bottom of the page, you will see paid ads. LabWare will likely show up in the non-paid selection close to or at the top (this non-paid area is called the “natural” search, meaning that, if you just search for something and someone isn’t paying for it, this is what naturally comes up).

In the paid ads, you might see other LIMS companies. This might be because they are paying for the word “LIMS” and your “labware lims” search includes that word, although these companies can also pay for entire search phrases, such as “labware lims”.

When I type in just “labware” for my search, I don’t see the paid ads for the other LIMS companies. With that said, there is nothing keeping the other LIMS companies from paying for the search phrase “labware lims.”

Maybe Not Even Then
But now, let’s suppose I type in this search phrase of “lablynx” and you would expect that, since I left off the word “lims” that I would not get other LIMS companies in the paid ads. Now, while the company LabLynx does show up at the top of the natural search, surprisingly, there is a paid ad from Abbott Informatics showing up.

So, without the term “lablynx lims” that includes the word “lims” to pull up yet other LIMS vendors, we have to wonder why Abbott Informatics shows up, wouldn’t you say?

Well, without knowing their search terms, we can only guess but for one other particular fact – the title of their paid ad is this:  “lablynx – abbottinformatics.com”.

This leads us all to ask what Abbott Informatics has to do with the LabLynx product. Do they have an entirely separate product by the same name? Do they want to get traffic from searches for the other company’s product? Is Google Search mixing up people’s titles, somehow? It’s quite puzzling.

Thus, why I say that even I’m left scratching my head.

Let’s Keep Searching
Next, I wanted to what happens when I include other search terms specific to LabLynx and did the search “lablynx limsforum” and I do receive multiple LIMS companies in paid ads but, once, again, Abbott Informatics shows up and the ad title includes “limsforum” in it (because LabLynx company owns the LIMSForum, for one).

So, while I know what I’m searching for, even I find the process of searching quite daunting.

To the User Who Wants to Do it Themselves
I think we all know to ignore the paid ads. I liked it better when they were off to the side but we can all see that they’re marked “ad” but one thing you can do. However, to all those users moderately offended when I made it sound a bit too easy to do on your own, my apologies. It’s tedious and Google isn’t as helpful as it could be, for a variety of reasons.

Note: Results will vary. Searches come up with different results for a variety of reasons, one of which being that people chance their ad campaigns, another that they add content to their sites.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises
http://www.GeoMetrick.com/

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2016 1:33 pm

    Gloria, it is not a mystery about Starlims coming up as a paid ad when the word LabLynx is googled. It is simple… They added LabLynx to their list of key search terms for their ad. The idea is to get leads from people who are searching for LabLynx and get them to look at Starlims.

    As the owner of LabLynx, LiMSforum, LiMSfinder, Laboratory Informatics Institute, LiMSbook and the list goes on and on and on… I have no problem with competitors keying off of those words. It is very easy for people to narrow down on the LIMS they want if they are willing to do a bit of research. The information is really presented on a silver platter in the LIMSwiki (which of course I also own that). All the information is cited and objective and is the most comprehensive source of unbiased LIMS information. I do get criticized for being the owner of all these things but someone has to do it and no one else is willing to pony up and fill the market need for information. Competitors don’t do it because they don’t want to promote competition, consultants don’t do it because sharing information freely runs counter to their business model of selling information. Publishers are not doing it because they are all about selling ads to sponsors who pay for the development of the content and since all of our limswiki content is open access and is not sponsored, there is little room for them to compete with the limswiki.

    In summary, there is already a goldmine of information about LIMS and all the related products and these resources are being used extensively everyday. For instance, I released the Fall edition of the LIMS Directory yesterday and there has been over 200 downloads by just this morning: http://www.limsbook.com/lims-directory-fall-2016-product-pricing-and-demos/1946/

  2. October 24, 2016 1:42 pm

    John, consultants don’t do it because we don’t have the time/money to promote some of the non-paying things. Personally, I don’t regret the time I’d given to things that help people and don’t pay, like the meeting groups and conferences and such, but I find that paying the mortgage and keeping the household fed really has to be the bottom line, in the end. I have limited time and I have to prioritize it, basically.

    But, as for the Google ads, it’s still a bit of a mystery because, even if you pay for a word or phrase, some formula is given to what is found in a “natural” search. So, even if someone pays for LabLynx, if that term doesn’t come up for the person as a “natural” search, that is taken into account. And, while you can pay more than anyone else to get a term or phrase as a paid ad, I don’t think that overcomes the “natural” part of that formula, for example.

    But also a mystery to me is this: let’s suppose that AI decided they want to pay a fortune to come up for every other search term in the industry, why wouldn’t they use that as a search term and not put that in the title.

    What I’m wondering is whether this is a violation of your “mark.” I’m not a lawyer and not suggesting that it is or is not, just saying it’s treacherous waters. I’m definiely suggesting that all the people out there about to respond aren’t lawyers and don’t know as much as they think about this particular subject. And, unless a trademark lawyer responds with real trademark legal advice, I’m not accepting any of the comments that say “well, I think this is how it SHOULD work…” because that’s how we get into the misunderstandings of all the legal stuff, to begin with.

    Tip: For those interested in a casual manner, there are some great and basic trademark law books to read (which is what I did when I was just thinking about the topic). If you want to know more about whether you’re doing things legally with regards to trademarks and the like, hire a good trademark lawyer, which is what I did, when the time came.

  3. October 24, 2016 2:03 pm

    A bit off-topic, but in this discussion where we’re talking a bit about StarLIMS (from Abbott Informatics), I was curious and went looking for their blog(s) because they used to have at least one, in the past. They hired a number of people who were writing blog posts to draw readers in, on their own, so I can’t figure out why they’d have to give that up for just drawing from other people’s feeds. It seems a strange tactic when everyone else is talking about how having your own content is so compelling but they now have hired what seems like a massive team of marketing people so I guess the professionals in all this have some strategy that will become apparent when they take over the LIMS world.

    But with that search, I did find some StarLIMS tips to pass along at: http://limsleft.blogspot.com/
    I haven’t used this product so I can’t comment on the tips, but it’s worth passing along just for people to consider.

  4. October 24, 2016 2:08 pm

    Gloria, I do find it strange on the part of Starlims to pull my company name right in with theirs. All those little tricks really should not help them any. In my company, we do not bother with any ads of any type. We have found them to be a waste of money but then, I count pennies like no one in this world. I am a big penny pincher. So I really expect a good return on money spent. Sharing real information gives a tremendous return and costs the time I pay people to research and publish information which is a fraction of the cost of ads and much better reception within the market.

    As for StarLIMS… they are taking more than one risk with their strategy. You know what they say about giving people plenty of rope…

  5. October 24, 2016 2:14 pm

    I did try Google AdWords when they first came out and had a good time throwing away good money. 😉 Seriously, though, it was interesting to learn about them and I was careful about limiting the money I used to try them out.

    However, let me pass along this advice from an experienced marketer I know that (paraphrased), “Google AdWords are like crack cocaine – you find yourself endlessly throwing away money at it and all it does is make you poor and desperate.”

    LabWare likes to talk about how they don’t advertise. I can’t confirm that but I do see when I do a Google Search that they never show up as a paid ad, that I remember. I can’t remember how they put it but they just don’t believe in it, basically, and with them being the top company, right now, not having AdWords out there sure hasn’t hurt them, at all.

  6. October 24, 2016 2:51 pm

    It appears that Labware, like LabLynx does not advertise but they, like LabLynx certainly do market. We just all have different ways of marketing. LabLynx uses content and information and Labware uses tradeshows and events. It is nothing to be boastful of. It is all just a tactic.

  7. October 24, 2016 3:27 pm

    Google can use “Keyword Insertion” to dynamically update the ad text with a term the user searched with – which can end up with some strange results. It might pick up on the word “LIMS” but reflect whatever keyword was typed, say {Freddie LIMS}, in within the advert ‘{Freddie LIMS} is great’
    https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2454041?hl=en-GB

    Google will enforce trademarks used in the text ad, but not in the keyword terms. So if “Freddie” LIMS is a trademark that would be a problem, though if “Freddie” was used to define the keyword match that fires the adword it would not be. (They like to encourage competition but not deceive users…. it also earns them more $s for them).
    https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/6118?hl=en-GB

    Clear as mud?!? Enjoy 🙂

  8. October 24, 2016 3:36 pm

    LabWare and Advertising: John, what I was really trying to get at is that LabWare lives without Google AdWords. But, yes, they do pay for their name to be bandied-about. I can’t remember if I used to see paid ads of theirs in “Scientific Computing” but who can even check, these days, when that web-site is such a disaster.

    Google AdWords: Tim, I didn’t realize the trademark enforcement that Google does. It does make sense to make sure no-one uses a trademark in the text, for example. However, that only probably accounts for registered trademarks. I have a registered trademark for this blog’s name, for example. But even if it wasn’t trademarked, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not my mark and that others could use it. So, with that, I would still think that caution in using others marks would be the prudent path-forward. On the other hand, in business, these days, I guess the mantra is to do it until someone threatens to sue you – it’s only illegal if someone gets caught, it seems, now.

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