The BBC needs to consider seasonality in its site search strategy
Early on Sunday afternoon I wanted to know how long it would take for a cheesecake to set so I Googled “cheesecake recipe” and clicked on the second organic result: BBC Good Food’s cheesecake collection. As it turns out it takes longer than I’ve got, so I click the search icon and enter “dessert” for more ideas.
The first result: the best family barbecue desserts. I’m not having a BBQ and I’m actually entertaining grandparents so I scroll down.
Although I’m not having a BBQ it is still summer. So why all the Christmas recipes in the results? Of the 15 results on page 1:
- 6 are Christmas specific
- 2 are Winter recipes – gingerbread and toffee apples
- 5 are appropriate for any season (several even include “for all seasons” in the title)
- 2 are arguably summer recipes – the barbecue desserts and a lemon dessert recipe guide.
I don’t feel that BBC Good Food has given me any indication that its search function is close to giving me the answer I’m looking for, so I press back and search google.co.uk for “dessert” instead.
Top of the SERPs? Probably the most comprehensive page I can imagine – and it’s not on BBC Good Food.
Dan Barker hit the nail on the head (as he always does) when it comes to the actions that the BBC could take:
Gosh. In that case I’d probably even manually override to a desserts page… But they don’t seem to have one
— dan barker (@danbarker) June 25, 2017
If messing around with a site’s internal search functionality isn’t an option then its current capabilities should be factored into its content strategy.
It should be relatively easy to create a content hub for “desserts” that will rank first in its own site search because it’s keyword-based (but a site like BBC Good Food – totally seasonal and with a large, digitally savvy organisation behind it – should be able to serve results relevant on the date of the search).
After searching for “dessert” I returned to bbcgoodfood.com and searched for “pudding” to see what happens (for the benefit of our non-British readers – we use the two words pretty much interchangeably.
The intent behind a search for “pudding” should be pretty obvious (think about Google’s related searches feature – Yorkshire puddings are unlikely to be related to a search for desserts and Google would know this).
The BBC is lucky in this situation because if I go back to Google and search for “pudding” the top 2 results are on bbcgoodfood.com – but what’s stopping the site search from showing me these results?
But following the first search – I’d entered the BBC’s ecosystem and they gave me up. How many other businesses do this? How much money could a business lose overloading its search results with clothes that can’t be worn for months?