As someone who spends hours digging through Google search results, I have to admit I was pretty pleased when Google announced it would launch Google Squared at Searchology a while back.
Imagine: a search engine that will sort through all the junk, pull out the good stuff, and spit it back at me in an easy to use, customizable spreadsheet. No more looking for a lost link, no more asking 'does anyone have a post about X' on Twitter, and no more dodging spam and attack sites.
It was like Christmas for copywriters and content producers everywhere, and as soon as it launched, I was testing queries and digging up information. World domination! (Insert evil cackling here.)
Corner the Market with Google Squared?
My first thought when they announced this innovative tool was the ability it would give webmasters to corner their market. You could put in a keyword for your industry and see exactly which areas could use some new or fresh information. You'd also be able to see where your web content performs well and where it could use improvement.
Well, it's far too unreliable for that since it often fails to bring up any content at all, but this type of tool would be nice for the first while wouldn't it? That is, until we had this thought and rendered it useless with an overload of content aka spamming.
Knowing what characteristics it included in the list could be beneficial for webmasters, I thought. After all, we know that searchers are more likely to click the first results they see right? Simply, optimize some of your content to satisfy the first few characteristics (image, description, common uses) and you'll be crashing your server with traffic in no time, right?
Um, no, not quite.
First of all, it doesn't seem to pick up on new content very well. Then, there's the whole problem of figuring out what its triggers are so that you can get your website in one of those little squares. Then, as David Harry had mentioned when we chatted about it, there's the whole problem of personalized search. Just how many of its algos contain elements of personalization? No one knows and Google certainly isn't going to tell us. The way some of the results appear, I would almost suggest that many of them are hand picked and programmed in some way.
A Huge Source of Traffic?
My next thought was, if this thing works as well as they showed, Google Squared could generate a huge amount of traffic. In other words, if my content was aimed at students or anyone who would find fact-based results important, I'd be getting in there and making darn sure I show up in it.
Well, it doesn't always perform as they showed. And, it's hard to say exactly how many people are actually making use of it. Many 'regular' searchers likely don't even know it exists.
Don't Write Off Google Squared As a Search Tool
Google Squared might not be as comprehensive as the good ol' search box, but I haven't written it off completely. In fact, I currently use it to cut a half hour or more off each project depending on the industry and the topic I'm working on.
When I start on a new copywriting project, I enter some keywords into G2 to get the basic facts about an industry. In short, I let it give me whatever basics it comes up with and I can get a pretty good idea of what I need to know with a quick glance. Is this information earth shattering? No, but as you can see from this quick search on 'geckos', it gives me enough that I know where to look or what to look up next.
And if it doesn't produce very good results (like with 'SEO copywriting') am I out anything? Nope. I simply get rid of what I don't want and start hunting down the information I need the old fashioned way.
Organization Is What Google Squared Does Best
Without a doubt, G2 is a lifesaver when it comes to organizing your data and basic facts. I enter the values I need to find for my projects, search for sources that do have the information, and copy/paste the facts into the square. When I'm done, I have a spreadsheet that contains the basic facts that I can easily refer back to it and adjust. I can save them and bring them back up when I need them for the next project on that subject.
Google provides the source URL with each result, which makes it easy to find additional information. So if I want to know more about the 'Diplodactylus Steindachneri', I can click the source and find exactly what I need on the first try.
Can I do the same thing with a regular spreadsheet? Yes, but Google Squared often does the work for me; I simply add to it. Does it work for everything? No, but it takes seconds to check it out compared to the hours I'd spend doing the same work.
To say the launch of Google Squared sent me to information heaven is a bit of a stretch…Ok, a big stretch, but if you're going to try out this tool for your next research project, I have learned two important little tidbits you might like to know: First, you can't change the results it brings up. You can work around them, but it's a pain. Second, if you are using the facts listed, be sure to check the source for accuracy.
Is Google Squared a secret weapon for writers? Hardly. A nightmare? No, but it's not totally useless. What do you think? Will you try it out the next time you have to research a new topic?
Angie Nikoleychuk (Haggstrom) is the Senior Copywriter and Consultant at Angie's Copywriting Services. She loves to create SEO Web copy and other types of online and offline content, but she figures SEO and Social Media is pretty great too. She likes to chat about business and marketing, find great links, and more. Oh, and you can find this copywriter on Twitter too.