Chances are, you haven’t seen Google’s very unscientific questionnaire, but it’s out there in the wild, potentially affecting your site’s SEO. Here’s the little questionnaire that has infrequently and seemingly randomly appeared on SERPs:
We’ve all seen a lot of Google SERP updates from the local/knowledge graph carousel, answers to even being able to play Atari breakout in image searches. But, IMHO, this is the weirdest thing I have ever seen in the Google SERPs.
I saw this for the first time here on Opening Day 2015 (Reds, World Series Champs…heard it here first). The actual date is April 6, but apparently Google has been running its mini questionnaire test since 2012.
At first thought, this seems simple enough, rate how satisfied you are with these results. But there’s very little information out there on this, and now I’m left with a rather uneasy SEO feeling. (FWIW, right now my only uneasy feeling should be about the strength of Joey Votto’s left knee.)
Ultimately, this little questionnaire leaves me with 4 huge concerns that appear to be unaddressed at this point. In 2012, a Google spokesperson confirmed that this is in fact a Google-sponsored survey and left this ambiguous quote:
“As you know, we always ask for user feedback in a range of forms — from live experiments to inviting people in to our UX labs — in order to improve our products. This is one of our experiments — one of many signals we take into consideration to make search better.”
Does the questionnaire affect SEO: Yes, Google’s entire search algorithm has one purpose: give users the search results they want. But, can people really be trusted to determine precisely what they want in a quick survey? Obviously internet users have a tremendous impact on search results, constantly “voting” for a page’s authority with links, social shares, time on page, etc.
But, have internet-users ever really voted on the entire results page at once? Google considers hundreds of factors in its organic rankings…creating very detailed processes for assigning value to each factor – all in what SEOs can assume to be a very thorough and scientific process. But, how scientific is a questionnaire with smiley and sad faces? Not very. And how much weight will be given to this?
How often does this questionnaire show up: I first saw it on a query about 3-4 hours ago and have been searching for it since then and haven’t seen it. My concern with this is the negative SEO perspective. Could spammers continuously search for phrases for competitor’s pages and keep giving them negative reviews to potentially hurt their rankings? This feels unlikely being that this questionnaire still feels rather unimportant but a little confirmation would be nice.
Is this a visual test: Google has always been experimenting with different search results looks and feels, including the local carousel (or knowledge graph carousel), blended results with images, maps, different formats for AdWords, answer boxes and more. Is Google simply testing different formats to discover the preferred visual SERP?
If I had to make a bold guess, I’d put my money on this theory. It feels reasonable to assume Google wants the most user-friendly format for its SERPs and this is a quick way to get customer feedback.
Specific queries: Is Google testing research-based queries against transaction-based queries to make sure it captured the searcher’s intent? Or is Google targeting very specific queries, such as direct searches like “UPS website” or broader queries like “Stores that ship packages?” Is it local, national, both?
As of now, we have no idea how Google plans to use this questionnaire. And most SEO circles are not really discussing this questionnaire. But, I’m concerned about it, so I’ll continue to update as information becomes available.