Why IT Guys Hate Google and Don't Know It Yet

I recently discovered two corporate websites that have search engine problems...at least I think they have search problems. The issue is simple, I can't find what I'm looking for.

The specific problem I've had is that when I type a word into the search field on the website it displays responses that don't appear to have any relation to my search term. For instance, I was on a publisher's website and searched for the word Bible. Since it's a Christian publishing company it's reasonable to expect to find something quickly for Bibles. Instead I was presented with four t-shirts, a marriage book, and an parenting book (which actually had the word "Bible" in the title). None of these were what I was looking for and then I remembered that I might need to put quotes around the search term. After doing this I was quickly taken to the intended Bible area of the website.

If I hadn't thought to include the quotes I would have left the site in frustration because I was given information that was nowhere close to what I was looking for. With the emergence of Google and other search engines, the use of quotes in the search field are used less often. It wasn't but just a few years ago when you needed to use the words AND, OR, and NOT in your searches but now that's not really common. In fact, if you use the word AND in a Google search you'll see a small notification on the results page letting you know that it wasn't necessary. For specific titles, quotes still apply and Google has a scheme of pluses and minuses that replace some of the old Boolean search methods. You can read more about it at the Google Search Basics page.

Since the new way of searching is now prevalent and the old way is dying off, any website that has a search engine within it must consider incorporating the new rules into their engine if only for the simple fact that it needs to work in the way most people are used to. The IT guys who maintain the sites I've seen recently aren't really going to like that because their search engine works...and we can't deny that. The issue, however, isn't whether or not it works but whether or not it works the way most people will use it. If the current way to search is the Google way (and I contend that it is) then any site which doesn't incorporate the new method runs the risk of becoming a point of frustration rather than a tool to let people quickly find what they're looking for.

I have no idea if this is something IT departments around the world are addressing for their sites. Having worked for a large company with a vast IT department, I can only imagine the moans of disgust when an IT staff is asked to consider this modification. From my observations, there's nothing IT guys hate more than doing something over...particularly something that's technically working. So when and if they are asked to make this change, they will likely discover they hate Google...or at least the change Google's made in the way we search.

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