Does Google know the difference between a product and a service?

We’ve noticed some suspicious oscillations in Google UK between related product and service providers. This has made us question whether Google is able to differentiate the two.

Take ‘Carpet cleaners’ as a search term, for example. The website below showed stable visibility right up until 12th November 2016.


Product provider repeatedly drops out of conversion zone in Google UK

Google unable to differentiate products and services 1

Post 14th November, visibility varies considerably. While the flux doesn’t, on the surface, look too bad, positions are varying daily from a converting position two to a non-converting 17.


Product provider’s erratic organic performance magnified

Google unable to differentiate products and services 2

The obvious thing to look for now is internal cannibalization. After ruling this out and eliminating the other main types of cannibalization – subdomain, international and semantic flux – our only option left, and the obvious next step is to explore the SERPS for answers.


Multiple product providers suffer organic flux in Google UK

By analyzing the peaks and troughs in visibility on individual days, we immediately recognize a pattern. Over half a dozen websites experience identical flux on exactly the same days:

Google unable to differentiate products and services 3

All of these websites have one thing in common – they’re all selling or renting carpet cleaning products.

So What’s happening to the SERPS on the days when these websites are losing visibility?

Here’s the answer…


Multiple service providers experience inverse organic flux in Google UK

Google unable to differentiate products and services 4

An alternative URL set of pure service providers is replacing the product offerings.


The performance of one product provider and one service provider overlaid

Google unable to differentiate products and services 5

So one day, Google decides that you’re looking for a service, and the next you’re looking for a product. It looks like algorithm testing to us.

Although these are monolithic, untainted results, there’s a chance that your search history will impact what you see.

However, we think that this flux is too strong and looks more like a period of testing on Google’s part.


The only way to spot patterns like this is with access to:

  • Historic data
  • Daily data
  • Access to the top 100 URL data

To access more daily data like this, for identifying immediate algorithm alterations:

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