Google Search Sucks

Have you ever tried to retrace a Google search? Without using ‘history?’ You may have noticed that results the second time around might depend on the mood of Al Gore Rhythm.

(Image credit: Serenity Strull/BBC/Getty Images)

27 May 2024 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News

(Image credit: Serenity Strull/BBC/Getty Images)

It is not your imagination. For some of us, after decades of searching and finding actual information, we have discovered – too late- that ‘the internet’ has become one big, hapless marketplace.

The big three or four exist purely to not only make money, but to generate sure-fire ways to make more money. And more. And more.

And the masterful Al Gore Rhythm makes sure the ads we see might change, but the placement of ‘real searching’ is always way down the page.

Of course there are other options, such as DuckDuckGo browsers and extensions, but given how deep the abyss has become by now, one cannot wonder if a day will come when we will give up all together and go back to passing paper notes and using pagers. (FYI, I did a search for pagers in the DDG browser just now and there were ‘only’ four ads before I reached what I was actually looking for. This was followed by a host of consumer links and a spattering of details about pagers.)

Below is an article from the BBC that reaffirms what we’ve known but, were afraid to admit: Google (and most other ad-search engines) – suck.

James Porteous | Clipper Media

For better or worse, Google Search dictates the shape of the web. Some online publishers say the company wields that power irresponsibly (Credit: Serenity Strull/BBC/Getty Images)

Google just updated its algorithm. The Internet will never be the same

Thomas Germain | 25th May 2024 | BBC Future

Over the last two years, a series of updates to Google Search amount to a dramatic upheaval to the Internet’s most powerful tool, complete with an unprecedented AI feature. Will Google save the web, or destroy it?

If you’ve ever typed “air purifier reviews” into Google, you were probably looking for the kind of content you’ll find on The site was started in 2020 by Gisele Navarro and her husband, based on a decade of experience writing about indoor air quality products. They filled their basement with purifiers, running rigorous science-based tests and writing articles to help consumers sort through marketing hype.

HouseFresh is an example of what has been a flourishing industry of independent publishers producing exactly the sort of original content Google says it wants to promote. And indeed, soon after the website’s launch, the tech giant started showing HouseFresh at the top of search results. The website grew into a thriving business with 15 full-time employees. Navarro had big plans for the future.

Then, in September 2023, Google made one in a series of major updates to the algorithm that runs its search engine.

“It decimated us,” Navarro says. “Suddenly the search terms that used to bring up HouseFresh were sending people to big lifestyle magazines that clearly don’t even test the products. The articles are full of information that I know is wrong.”

The second Google algorithm update came in March, and it was even more punishing. HouseFresh’s thousands of daily visitors dwindled to just hundreds. “We just got absolutely crushed,” Navarro says. Over the last few weeks, HouseFresh had to lay off most of its team. If nothing changes, she says, the website is doomed.

A spokesperson for Google tells the BBC that the company only launches changes to Search after rigorous testing confirms that the shift will be helpful for users, and that the company gives website owners help, resources and opportunities for feedback on their Search rankings.

Google stands firm in its position that the changes will be a benefit to the web, and changes to the Search algorithm are just the start. Last week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai stood in front of a crowd at the company’s annual developer conference and announced one of the most significant moves in the search engine’s history.

Going forward, Pichai said, Google Search would provide its own AI-generated answers to many of your questions, a feature called “AI Overviews” that’s already rolled out to users in the United States. “The result is a product that does the work for you,” Pichai said. “Google Search is generative AI at the scale of human curiosity.”

Google’s work is about to have a profound impact on what many of us see when we go online

AI Overviews are just one of a slew of dramatic changes Google has made to its core product over the past two years. The company says its recent effort to revamp Search will usher in an exciting new era of technology and help solve many of the issues plaguing the web. But critics say the opposite may be true.

As Google retools its algorithms and uses AI to transition from a search engine to a search and answer engine, some worry the result could be no less than an extinction-level event for the businesses that make much of your favourite content.

One thing is certain: Google’s work is about to have a profound impact on what many of us see when we go online.


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