I've never liked Michael Bolton. I don't like his music and his instructional slow pitch softball video is downright embarrassing. I'm absolutely certain I could stop by any local rec league and find someone more qualified to make an instructional softball video than he is. Fortunately, it's easy to change the station when Michael Bolton comes on the radio and even easier to not watch his ridiculous softball video. More recently however, with the help of Google, Mr. Bolton has become an omnipresent thorn in my side.
When most people think of Google what comes to mind is how easily it allows them to find the best information available. You want to find the nearest pizza place? You got it. You need to find a plumber? Google will list your best options in seconds. My recent experience is quite different, however. In my world, Google has done exactly the opposite, and in the process made me enemies with Michael Bolton, protein bars and the Runescape online gaming community. Sound ridiculous? Let me explain.
As you may or may not have noticed in the past year, Google has moved increasingly towards what is being called "blended search", where they mix results from their different types of searches - Google Maps, Google Shopping, and Google Video. These results are now all part of search engine results if Google deems them appropriate. But while this is extremely handy if you're a local plumber and your potential customers can more easily find you on a Google Map listing, it's a low blow to those of us selling steel bars.
Look at this mess...
For those of you unaware of the gutwrenchingly awful song "Steel bars" by Michael Bolton, I'll have you know that if you're searching for the tangible product of steel bars that his wretched video is the first thing you'll find.
I cannot guarantee what will happen to you if you click the video below, but be advised that it has been known to cause severe trauma.
Not only that, but now we are also competing with a listing for a wiki entry for a pixillated steel bar in an online video game as well as a protein bar from bodybuilding.com (that also contains 10 percent of your daily recommended value of calcium).
This is a strange competitive landscape Google...Runescape? I don't even know what this is!
So rather than just having to worry about our actual business competitors, Google has made it even MORE difficult for our customers to find us. I understand the concept of blended search, and I definitely see the value of it in a variety of instances - but in this particular circumstance it has muddled things considerably.
I'm sure this isn't the only instance of Google making unnatural enemies, but it's certainly one of the most bizarre. I've got my eye on you Michael Bolton...
(Original photo available here - http://farm1.static.flickr.com/62/187570899_1b41e7c7f7.jpg)
Here are some other resources on the web that deal with blended or universal search listings.