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When Google Doesn’t Work

Google is not perfect?

In the beginning there was not much in the way of searching, aside from asking Jeeves… and then Google created their search engine and there was much rejoicing.

However, no system is perfect and how we interact with Google search is a good example.

Let’s set the scene: It’s summer and it’s hot, your kids want to play outside and have a water fight. As a nice present for the summer holidays you decide to get them each a toy.

You type into Google “Water Guns” and you get an assorted amount of relevant sites for you to browse. “Thanks again Google, you’ve saved me a lot of time”, you think as you click the most promising link.

Step into the other side of Google

Now for some role-reversal.

You’ve just set up your own shop selling water guns for kids and have just launched your brand new website, full of your selection of water guns, painstakingly filled with high quality images, lengthy descriptions and clear pricing.

How could it not do well?

The first month after launch you review what people are typing into Google to end up on your site, and are surprised to see:
Colt 45 Gun
Submachine Gun
Water Cooled Gatling Gun
Waterproof Guns

This is a good example of how Google doesn’t work all the time, at least for your water gun business.  Though I suppose your water guns are waterproof, else they’d be in the same category as Self-peeling Labels and Chocolate Teapots.

Touché Google.

A Wake Up Call

Moving on from those small frustrations, you spot another group of entries:
Good price on water guns
Low price water gun
Where can I buy water guns for a cheap price?

This is exactly what you’re looking for people to type in to get to your site.  Your customer will be taken from Google search to your website and have a good chance of buying something.

You take this moment to perform a celebratory fist-pump when you almost fall off your chair, and you’re back in the office of your price gun shop, having dozed off on your lunch.  In-front of you on your screen you realise with utter defeat that people who search for all the above terms are all going to your website.

It’s then I realise this should be something to blog about.

We sell Price Guns, Google. “Low Price – Price Guns”.  Not “Low Price Guns”.

Final Thoughts

Spare a thought for firearms websites, who are surprised to learn they get visitors looking for “Price Guns”, “Water Guns” and “Spud Guns”.

… and no, despite popular demand from Google searches, we don’t have the sheet music for Jessie J’s song “Price Tag”.

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Fluorescent Labels on the Web

You go shopping for a high visibility jacket

You know? The type workmen wear while five of them watch one guy dig a hole.

They’re bright yellow, sometimes red or orange. Advertised as fluorescent or day-glow. Sometimes arguably called neon.

You find a website with your jacket, and take a look at the picture, except it looks dull. Flat. You’ve seen camouflage jackets looking brighter than the jacket in the image.

Why doesn’t fluorescence work on computer images?

To put it simply, your computer screen doesn’t show colours in the same way that a physical object does. It can’t show the difference between a strong yellow and a neon yellow.

Fluorescent colours look dull, metallic colours look flat.

Of course this is frustrating when trying to sell a fluorescent or metallic item on a website. We recently added fluorescent labels to our web store, but the pictures don’t do the product justice.

The workaround

Photographs can work well in showing these colours.  Our brain can interpret the fluorescent colours by using the whole picture.  Especially if there is a familiar object in the image, such as a person wearing the jacket.

Sorry to disappoint you, there’s no photo of me covered in neon labels.

We took an alternative solution, and can post samples of our fluorescent labels to customers in the post.  It’s not ideal, but it works.

Unlike the five jacket wearing workmen “supervising”.

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Self-peeling Labels and Chocolate Teapots

Peelable Irony

On introduction to the world of retail I came to realise the importance of labels.
If you want to display a price you use a label.
Best Before, Use By or Date of Manufacture? Use a label.
Batch Number? Labels.

You see where I’m going here.

So a few months into my first retail job and after picking up hundreds of labels off the floor, I asked my manager why they fell off. The response? Unexpectedly defeatist.

Well they’re peelable labels so they keep peeling off.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony: You want adhesive labels to stick to something reliably, not fall off a short time later.

These labels should be called self-peeling – that’d be much more apt.

Chocolate Teapots

Picking up another dozen labels from the floor I decided that peelable labels were an oxymoron. Like a chocolate teapot or a waterproof teabag. Completely useless with a serious flaw in their design.

So why were they being used? – I asked.

The permanent labels leave behind glue and paper when they’re removed, which we have to scrape off when we change prices. Re-printing the labels is a lot faster than trying to scrape off that sticky gunk.

So continually printing and replacing “self-peeling” labels was the cheaper option in their eyes. I wasn’t happy that this was the best solution, though management seemed content with paying staff to spend hours every day re-printing labels that had fallen off.

Was there no better solution?

…and then I saw the light

It wasn’t until months later that I finally found the source of the problem.

When getting more label sheets from the stock room, I saw sunlight streaming in through the window onto the open carton.

Written on the box:

Peelable labels

Store away from direct sunlight and heat

Guaranteed for one year

Date of purchase:  [5 years ago]