Ever wondered whether Google's top page results are of sufficient quality to be able to base important procurement decisions, for something like Web hosting, on them?
We've always prided ourselves on being able to give pretty accurate reviews of products and services for SMEs, but I thought it would be interesting to see how our manual research compares to Google's algorithms.
Almost everyone uses Google to search for the information they need to make decisions about which services to utilize in their own company.
And, searching for something like "Small business Web hosting companies" on Google is an indication that you trust Google to return the right results to help you make the best decision possible.
This article will look at how Google's top 5 business focused hosting companies compares to our own lists and reviews, in order to determine how reliable and trustworthy Google results really are.
In order to provide an even testing ground, we used a range of hosting-for-business related searches in Google, and collated the first page results to see which hosting services appeared most often.
Here are a few sample search queries:
- Web hosting for small business
- business Web hosting
- Web host for business
- best hosting companies for business
- best hosting for business
In addition, we discounted the massive amounts of advertising results that now crowd Google's results pages for competitive searches like these - focusing solely on the quality of their organic search results.
Google's top 5 Web hosts
Naturally, there was fairly significant differences in the results of different keyword searches, so the first thing to note is that there is volatility in the "advice" Google gives, depending on how you phrase the search terms.
And, perhaps just as importantly, the results themselves favoured either brands, blogs, news, reviews, and spam in differing quantities.
However, according to Google, the top 5 companies that focus on providing business hosting (for small and large businesses) are:
- Yahoo! small business
SME Pals' top 5 hosting companies
Based on our reviews of the top 5 companies over a range of plans - shared, VPS, and dedicated, etc - we determined that the hosting companies offering the best quality and best value for money services are:
- Weebly (best hosted website builder)
- SiteGround (best shared hosting)
- IX (best VPS hosting)
- HostGator (best dedicated hosting)
- Shopify (best eCommerce hosting)
You can check out the full comparison reviews with all the companies' data (including pricing, support, resources, reviews, and overall value for money index) at Top 5 lists of the best corporate Web hosts.
How good are Google's results?
Overall, I would say that I am pleasantly surprised by the quality of the results.
Almost all of the hosting companies that make regular appearances on the top results pages have made it into our own top lists at some time or another.
They may not be the best to a fine, technical point, but they are definitely up there.
However, one thing we did note is that the high quality results tend to only become apparent after making sufficient related queries.
It is very hard to get good results from only a single Google query.
Our trust in Google's results is therefore about a 6 out of 10.
Essentially, this means that you can rely on Google to provide decent information, but only if you are prepared to put in a bit of time searching, sifting, and collating results.
What do you think about the reliability and quality of Google's results when it comes to fairly important and competitive phrases (like the ones tested here) that have the power to influence the buying decisions of businesses?
Are there areas where you think Google is better or worse at providing decent quality results? What other areas would you like SME Pals to compare?
Share your thoughts on Google's search quality as a tool for strategic corporate research in the comments below.