Google lost the war on spam in shopping results

Posted by & filed under Oddities, Technology.

So, thanks to global warming global cooling freaky weather (oh whatever it is, but it’ll get blamed on global warming anyways) Austin is expected to have a wonderful 14F weather this week. Given that insulation in homes here is kinda slim, especially in a garage, I was thinking about bringing in a spatial heater to warm up the wall that has water pipe in it.

Off I go to Google to search for a spatial heater. And I get back…
– The Psychology of Baseball Inside the Mental Game of the Major-something
– Thermal Imaging Camera
– Outdoor wireless access point
– A cockatiel cage(!)
– Electric convection oven.

Allright, I suppose a convection oven could be used as a spatial heater. Kinda. If I open it and point it at the wall. But seriously, how are any of the other results relevant? SEOs won, even though in this particular case it’s a pyrrhic victory, as I won’t be buying a book, a camera, an access point or a cage.

Theoretically, Google probably should have suggested “space heater”, but I did see some people talk about “spatial heater” too (in the context of “cold office, but spatial heaters are not allowed”) as that seems to produce list of relevant results, but even there Google managed to surprise me with some strange graphics for nearby stores block:

Hopefully this case will be fixed.

* Update * The strange thing in the second pic turned out to be “Dr Heater”, that, for some reason, was picked to demonstrate local results (versus numerous DeLonghi/Honeywell products)

2 Responses to “Google lost the war on spam in shopping results”

  1. Matt Cutts

    When I do a Google web search for [space heater] (the right name for what you’re looking for), I get:
    – really useful suggestions for ways to refine the query more:
    “Brands: De’Longhi Vornado Honeywell Holmes Lasko
    Stores: Amazon Target Office Depot Northern Tool eBay
    Types: electric ceramic oil filled convection oscillating”
    where each of these are links to refine more and dig deeper
    – shopping universal results that show reputable products with hundreds of reviews, available from dozens of stores. That’s a useful way to slice the data too
    – Amazon’s category page for space heaters
    – a Wikipedia page (because you might not want to buy)
    – a space heater from Target where the snippet tells me the product is in stock
    – a category page for space heaters from Office Depot
    – Consumer Reports! They have a specific page all about space heaters, and we return it.

    The web results for [space heater] on other search engines look much worse to me. Do I wish that Google could be psychic and say “You searched for spatial heater but we’re pretty sure you mean space heater, right?” Sure, I do wish that. But I didn’t see any other search engine suggest that query refinement either.

    • Max Smolev

      Thanks for your comment.

      Well, I tried “spatial heater” search on and that did bring at least a couple of relevant results (oil heaters, quartz heaters). And even primary Google results did have heaters mentioned. Of course, I’d love for Google to suggest “Did you mean ‘space heater’?” too 🙂

      The problem is that in the shopping tab results seem to have very little to nothing to do with “heater” at all, spatial, space or otherwise (at the same time ads do include HVAC and heater subjects)

      For example, first result has no words heater or spatial on the page. Zilch. Thermal cameras could be considered heat related, though even that is a bit of a stretch.

      Yet if I just enter “heater” I do get relevant results (actually even more relevant than “space heater”)

      I guess my primary question is, how come in my first query the word “heater” didn’t overweight “spatial” for product search? And why it lead to having results that don’t have heater or spatial on the actual page where Google does have great number of results for at least one of the words?
      Perhaps the combination of “heater” and word always results in other word taking precedence? (see intentionally misspelled somekind heater that prefers to give results about “smoking”+whatever with only one result for “heater”, word order doesn’t seem to matter)

      Bonus question: if I do request Heater on https version, “shopping” tab is completely absent from the top or side bar. Odd.


Leave a Reply