I personally have found that over the last few years, Google searches are changing. Users aren’t typing in search terms anymore. They’re typing in questions.
For example: while auto locksmiths may have previously had their ads triggered for searches such as ‘auto locksmiths Surrey’ or ‘car key replacement Sussex’, they may now be treated to search queries such as: (These are real examples by the way)…
- ‘i have locked my keys in the car what do i do’
- ‘i lost my mazda key’
- ‘what happens if i lose my spare car key’
- (and the slightly more colourful) ‘f*ck are my car keys’? (starred out so as not to burn out your innocent eyes)
You only need to type ‘why’, ‘what’ or ‘how’ into Google to be presented with a vast array of (sometimes rather disturbing) questions. Do you know why? Because Google can apparently do everything – give you relationship advice, teach you French or diagnose an illness. (I feel I should mention that medical advice on the internet does NOT take the place of your GP and if you have any medical concerns you should book an appointment. Not Google it.)
I used to work in healthcare PR which involved liaising between journalists and consultants at private hospitals with the aim of creating a journalistic masterpiece. A common question journos always wanted to ask was one piece of advice the consultant would give the general public. 9 times out of 10, the consultants would answer ‘Do not self-diagnose on Google’ because naturally, if you have a headache and type that into Google, at least one website will appear telling you a headache is a classic symptom of a deadly kind of bunion and you have 4 hours to live.
I admit, I’ve done it – I’ve researched symptoms, turned up at my GP surgery and mentioned I thought I knew what the diagnosis was due to extensive Googling. This comment will always be met with a look of sheer disdain because, after all, the guy/gal sitting in front of you has been through years of med school and all you’ve done is Google it.
We trust Google to identify illnesses and even diet plans, some of which can be extremely unhealthy, useless, or even dangerous.
Gone are the days of kids doing their homework in a library or owning encyclopedias. There’s no need to own cookbooks anymore. Don’t go to a mechanic, just Google ‘Why has my car broken down on the M4’ and you’ll find the perfect solution. NOT.
As much as I love Google – I like books, meeting my GP face to face and having a laugh with my mechanic when my Astra makes funny noises and I have to book it in PDQ.
The internet is a wonderful thing but are we depending on and trusting it too much?
I admit, Google’s search results are accurate, relevant and coherent. Google is an amazing tool and hub of knowledge BUT are we losing the ability to work things out for ourselves? Are we neglecting good old fashioned service providers like GPs and lawyers by ‘just Googling’ it and trusting some randomer who claims to know what they’re talking about?
We have switched from typing in a key phrase to treating Google like a personal robot. Type ‘Am I’ into Google and the first search suggestion that appears is ‘Am I pregnant’. HOW, may I ask, is Google supposed to be able to tell you that??
Call me a cynic, but in all but a few situations, asking Google for medical/life/everyday/legal advice is the equivalent of yelling at a magic 8 ball, shaking it like mad with your fingers crossed and hoping for the best.