Did Google Scare Customers Away From A Restaurant?

from the gotta-blame-Google dept

Everyone loves to find reasons to blame Google. E-Media Tidbits points us to the a recent story of a restaurant owner who blames Google for hurting his business. The story is a bit convoluted. Apparently, an employee at the restaurant had a brother who was accused of murder. The restaurant employee then supposedly helped his brother escape prison and was arrested. The local news coverage of the event included a mention that the guy worked at the restaurant (and a quote from the owner’s wife about how he was a good employee). The problem, then, is that people searching for the name of the restaurant on Google then found the top story to be about this murder case — and even if they knew it wasn’t directly related to the restaurant, just the connection of the restaurant to a murder case turned off potential patrons. Of course, it seems again like the blame is misplaced. It’s not Google’s fault that this the most relevant website or that people didn’t bother to realize this shouldn’t impact the restaurant itself. It seems like the big problem is that the restaurant itself did little to nothing to make sure it had a decent presence in Google. In fact, E-Media Tidbits points out that within just a day of this new article appearing it has become the top result for the search, rather than the earlier article about the murder case. It’s easy to blame Google for things, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right place to put that blame.

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Comments on “Did Google Scare Customers Away From A Restaurant?”

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Casper says:

That's not Googles fault..

Google is the only thing around that reports EXACTLY what it finds. If only the media would do the same. It’s not Googles fault there was a murder connected with the restaurant… even if it didn’t happen in it. If anyone read the actual story they would know this, it’s not like Google is the one speaking without thinking. If anything, he should be going after the wife or the reporters for including the name of the business.

comboman says:

Google use to provide relevant results

It’s not Google’s fault that this the most relevant website

If people are searching for the name of a restaurant and Google thinks the most relevant site is a news item that mentions the restaurant deep in the text, then that IS Google’s fault. It is clearly NOT the most relevant website for those search words. Google ranked it higher than the restaurant’s official website based on page rank criteria that obviously have nothing to do with relevance (but probably have something to do with Adwords). Google’s search results have been getting poorer over the last few years; unfortunately, no one else’s seem to be any better.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Google use to provide relevant results

My god how stupid can people get. Google doesn’t think it is a search engine that uses various algorithms to select what people are looking for. Since people obviously clicked on the murder story a lot then the algorithms would push the rank of the story up more thus moving it to the front of the line. It is not like people sit in a center somewhere deciding what gets posted first in a search. Since this restaurant had no web page of its own how did the guy ever expect to even appear in a Google search. This is obviously someone trying to make a buck off a big corporation.

As for as Adwords playing into it I rally really doubt. I don’t even see Adwords in my search results,(thanks to Firefox and a fabulous extension known as Adblock Plus), and I almost always get what I am looking for on the first page. I search for very random items that most search engines give me a lot of BS stuff that has nothing to do with what I typed in.

Google is the most reliable search engine I have found. There may be better out there but I haven’t seen it yet.

UQ says:

Re: Re: Google use to provide relevant results

For the last time the restaurant does have a web site!!! Algorithms or otherwise the final product is company responsibility!! And the final product in this case was an article that barely mentions the restaurant in an obscure corner of its text and not the restaurants official web site appearing as the #1 site in terms of relevance on a search whose keyword was the Restaurant’s name!! They need better algorithms Obviously!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Google use to provide relevant results

“If people are searching for the name of a restaurant and Google thinks the most relevant site is a news item that mentions the restaurant deep in the text, then that IS Google’s fault. It is clearly NOT the most relevant website for those search words.”

What he said!

“Google’s search results have been getting poorer over the last few years; unfortunately, no one else’s seem to be any better.”

Try Clusty– it’s my current favorite, and still pretty good. Searching on “ceritano’s restaurant” without quotes, the way most people would type it in, the top result is a page offering gift certificates. The murder story is at #2, and the article linked above is at #8, and another copy appears at #5. (With quotes, though, they’re #1, #5, and #2 respectively.)

Kilroy says:

The blame is all over on this one…on the wife for talking to the press, the reporter for dragging the resturaunt into it (for no real reason other than a sound bite) and the resturaunt for not having a website to start with. If the resturaunt had a website and Google ranked the news article higher than the resturaunt… then Google would be partially to blame due to a poor ranking system, but, since thats not the case, Google has nothing to do with it.

However, as someone who ran a resturaunt for 5 years, I can tell you that the success of most resturaunts is repeat business (which should be unaffected by Google) and most “new customers” learn of your business through word of mouth, not Google.

AND if sales were down 30% because of the loose association with a double murder, then its probably due to media coverage other than the internet.

Point in case, a resturaunt that does not have a website is (IMHO) not likely to have a strong grasp on the way the internet/Google works anyway and are probably just looking to scapegoat somebody for their loss in sales.

JJ says:

It may not be Google's fault, but it does show fau

Google has made it harder and harder for legitamate websites to have a presence on their search engine. People now have to jump through tons of SEO hoops and get hundreds of people to link to them before they can move up the ladder. It is extremely difficult for a small restaurant to get above a 4 page rank, while a newspaper can get a 7 easily.

Basically this allows news articles (that get linked to a lot) move up the Google pagerank ladder faster than the site people are actually searching for.

Google is not to blame for anything, but their search engine rankings are seriously flawed. Perhaps the sites that don’t try so hard are the ones who deserve to be on top. After all, they generally, are the most relevant result.

James Dennis says:

Technology and Misplaced blame

This is another case where someone is not satisifed until blame is assigned to someone or something other than themselves.

Increasingly, we see examples where people want to blame websites and large corporations for social problems that have existed for centuries.

For example; There are many that want to blame “Myspace” for the actions of child molesters. They claim that Myspace should provide security and make it so children cannot be harmed. While the intent of protecting children is a necessary and human thing to do, the blame shouldn’t be placed on Myspace. For a moment, let’s compare apples to apples. So many times, we have heard examples where children have been abducted from playgrounds all across the country. Should we blame playgrounds and say that swings and merry-go-rounds lend itself to child molestation? No, we don’t. Is it practical to assign a police officer to every playground 24 hours a day? No, it is not. The real problem lies in the actions of underage patrons of Myspace and their parents. Children lie about their ages and parents do not pay enough attention to what their children are doing. If Myspace is responsible for children lying and parents not parenting, what was the excuse for child abductions pre-internet?

Myspace is no different and Google is no different. These are merely tools used to socialize and do business and productivity and ease of use also have their price. Every decision made or not made has it’s pros and cons and with this in mind, we must weigh if the pros outweigh the cons.

In summary, we cannot blame Google and Myspace for societies social problems and certainly should not misplace blame. Our brains are wired to protect itself emotionally and physically. I can understand why it is easier to blame others and not yourself. But this doesn’t mean this is right. When we decide to examine the root causes and become less defensive about our own inequities, we will see that the blame lies within all of us. So, if we read an article about murder and associate that murder to where someone’s second cousin’s uncle’s father worked, we are to blame for being prejudice and lacking perspective.

Note to restaurant owner: Deep pockets do not imply guilty. If you plan to hold Google liable you must also blame all other forms of media whether it be radio, t.v., or newspaper. Considering your wife is the one who associated the restaurant’s name with the murder, you are indeed at fault. Own up to your family’s mistake and quit trying to blame Google or the world for your own inequitities.

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