To many people these words or phrases, Gutter, Gutters, Guttering, Rain Gutters, Seamless Gutters, Eavestrough, Roof Gutter and Gutter System all mean pretty much the same thing. The first thing many people think of when they hear one of these terms and specifically the word “gutters” are the narrow ducts or channels running along the eaves or bottom edges of a roof, which collect rain water and direct or divert it into a drain or downspout to be drained away from their home or some other building. This connotation or meaning is also what predominates the search results for most of these terms. Upon a closer look, we see the word gutter while often used to refer to the rain gutter running along a roof edge, it can also be a street gutter, which is slight depression which runs along the edge of a city street or curb, carrying rain and street water over to a drain or sewer. Gutter can also be the trough, channel or groove on the edges of bowling alley lanes that collect all those gutter balls. Table shuffleboards have similar gutters on their sides to collect pucks. In word publishing, printing and design, a gutter is the blank or empty space between facing pages or where pages come together and sometimes the space between columns and rows on a page or screen. Gutter can also be the ditch that runs along the side of a road. In stamp collecting it is the empty space between rows of stamps. Gutters in barns dug in the ground behind the animals collect and carry away excrement. The word gutter also frequently used with the phrase “in the gutter” might reference something that is morally questionable or distasteful. The word gutter derives or comes from the Anglo-Norman “gotere”, Old French “gotiere”, newer French “gouttiere” and the original Latin “gutta” or plural “guttae”.
What is interesting is that search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN (Bing), AOL, Ask, Dogpile, Excite, etc. give a different order of search results when you enter each one of these search terms separately. It does not seem that search engines know that gutters, guttering, rain gutters, eaves troughs and gutter systems are the same thing as are rain troughs, rain collectors and rain channels. Websites and web-pages emphasizing or optimizing for one of these keywords are usually then not optimized for the others and so you get significantly different search result placement across the various search engines for each of these words or phrases. Many people already view search engines as frustrating and annoying to use due to their increasing emphasis on returning mostly paid advertisements in top positions in their search results rather than prioritize and list results genuinely based on merit, usefulness and content. Individuals and companies can pay to get listed highly in the search results whether or not they are worthy or deserving to be so highly considered and they offer commensurate relevance to the researcher. So paid listings tainting search results is not new but it has been getting worse each year to where some search engines and directories have become predominantly commercialized and no longer unbiased. Then to compound the problem with search result accuracy and validity are search engine optimizing games played by website marketing people who optimize or manipulate their website names and web-pages primarily to get listed highly in search engine results for a particular keyword or search term. For example emphasizing the terms “rain gutter”, “guttering” or “gutter systems” versus just “gutters” which is the most often used term to describe essentially the same thing, might give them an edge in search result placement over websites/web-pages that emphasize “gutters” or just “gutter”. Search engine users get mixed results from their searches depending on what term they enter even if they mean the same thing. For example, companies offering guttering are providing the same exact thing as companies offering gutters and still other companies offering gutter systems or rain gutters or even new gutters (hey aren’t most gutters sold new?). Yet enter each of these terms or phrases separately into search engines and you can get drastically different sets of results as well as the order of placement.
Just something to think about the next time you are searching for something and you want the most genuine, worthwhile, unbiased and untainted results. One strategy you can try is to search for whatever you are looking for using different synonyms, syntax or phrase variations. Trying out different search terms, ignoring the paid listings and repeating your search across multiple search engines, will deliver better results and give you a bigger more accurate picture. Meanwhile we hope for better, smarter search engines that can recognize essentially the same terms, synonyms or meanings and will give us back more consistent beneficial results. Of course we can always wish for an intelligent, free, unbiased search engine to miraculously appear, one that can not be bought, manipulated, fixed, greased, swayed or else biased in any way but will always return fair, just, even-handed, reliable and completely accurate results. That may be a tall order and seem unrealistic and yet it is not too much to ask for and yes, the world deserves and truly needs that.