When you want to find information about a subject that you don’t really know anything about, most of us would admit that a quick Google search is their first step now-a-days. And most of us would assume that the pages that rank highest in a Google search would be sites that work correctly and were built by competent individuals. Otherwise, how on earth would they climb to that much sought-after first page? But this is not always the case. A while back I’d found a 3rd ranked site that, to this day, reminds me that just because Google says a page is worth visiting, doesn’t mean it’s actually worth a damn.
Once upon a time I decided that I needed an office pet. Others had fish, bud I decided that I wanted a snail. So I did what most people would do. Google search ‘pet snails.’ The first two entries were for a site for raising European land snails. The third was this site.
Right off the bat I found myself dubious that I could believe anything this hastily slapped together site might tell me. The header image itself was obviously put together using MS Paint, and badly at that. The snail in the image was a photo that had another photo superimposed on top of it! And the header image was to large for the website’s structure.
Moving down to the site’s menu bar, I found that most of the menu pages are empty or “under construction.” Apparently it has been “under construction” for several years, because to this day they are still not finished. This looks most unprofessional.
The layout wasn’t terribly good or bad. It was simply basic. Though leading off on a front page with 10 facts wouldn’t necessarily be my own first choice. The color scheme of dark blue and primary blue on white was another basic choice. It lends nothing like a personality to a site about snails.
But it was the content that drove the last wavering belief in this site as a place of actual knowledge from me. The images consist of fuzzy croppings from photos and crude MS Paint sketches. Its text was full of spelling and grammar mistakes, it was worded in an unprofessional (even childish) manner, and had factual mistakes. The final straw for me was the dead links. At least the ‘under construction pages actually existed. These inner-page links were completely invalid.
About the only redeeming part of this site was an amusing linked Youtube video of snail racing.
At first this hot mess may not seem like too big of a deal, but remember that this is supposed to be an animal care site. It was 3rd ranked for ‘pet snails’ and 4th for ‘pet snail care’ on Google. It begs the question. Who failed? Did the website creator fail to produce a competent site? Did Google fail to give me the most useful/relevant search results? Did I fail to search the right parameters?
And as I left the page I realized that whoever put this site together actually did me a service. Knowing or remembering the fallibility of Google (or any Internet search) is important. Answers aren’t always to be had at the first glance.