If you haven't already noticed for yourself, Google UK's results have been pretty poor of late. Since June 2009, around the time of Vince update, the UK results have featured significant numbers of non-UK websites. In amongst the regular co.uk and UK .com sites, those from other English-language websites like Australia, South Africa, Canada and (most frequently) the United States have been appearing. Even the odd Italian one has crept in. Although websites from outside the UK can be relevant to local users, more often than not these sites are worse than useless. Not only are they usually completely irrelevant to UK users, their presence prevents the sites that are relevant from being found. Just popping to the shops - I may be some time... Most noticeable at first were the poor local results. Lots of people complained that they'd search for something like a restaurant or an electrician in their town only to be served up a list of businesses from their American namesakes; if you're in the UK and search for "Lancaster" the chances are you don't mean somewhere in Pennsylvania. It wasn't just local results that were affected though; a generic search like "buy guitar pedals" still returns US results from Google.co.uk. Do these websites provide a better match for UK customers? Does Google believe UK customers would prefer to use foreign retailers (many of whom don't even deliver to the UK)? The official reason for the ranking disruption (or at least the reason given by Google's defacto spokesperson Matt Cutts) is that .com TLDs are being placed on a more even footing with .co.uk sites. Fair enough you might say - there are lots of UK websites using .com domains (like the one you're reading). Blame it on the .com However, UK .com websites were ranking quite happily before the changes. In effect, all Google has done is pollute the UK SERPs with what may as well be spam; reams of extra sites that are of no use to the people they're being suggested to, which only serve to slow down web browsing and frustrate users. Many of the results have now been corrected (the index must have been tweaked to within an inch of its life) but plenty more remain. Perhaps the strangest thing about the whole affair is just how little feedback Google wants to give to its non-US markets; Matt Cutts followed up an original post (because he said people felt he had "punted" the question first time around) with a vague video explanation that bizarrely left most questions unanswered. Despite over 140 comments and even the creation of a website asking What's wrong with Google's search results in the UK?, our results are still broken. How Google is treating .com sites is certainly part of the problem, but there are other issues. For example, geotargetting has gone from average to abysmal - if you can't reliably work out where your users are then don't make it so fundamental to the results you give. Altavista, anyone? Before the UK SERPs fiasco we actually had pretty decent results. We got the odd spammy result at times, but generally they were very good. Lately we seem to have been heading back to the days where you had to add a "uk" suffix on to every search engine query, making a series of increasingly specific requests until you got what you wanted. It smacks of either supreme arrogance or incompetence that Google can effectively cripple its UK index overnight (maybe some sort of limited testing would be a good idea before full roll-out next time?) and still not have it properly sorted months later. Worst, they didn't even have the good grace to say "oops" - just side-stepped the bulk of the complaints and half-heartedly said they'd look into it. Google has a 90% market share in the UK. We love them even more than America does, where they only command a paltry 63% share of the search market. Extended periods of poor relevancy (read "crappy results") for its UK users can only damage Google's reputation in this country and, if enough people decide to try its competitors instead (such as Microsoft's rejuvenated search engine Bing), its revenue might be next to suffer.