Thursday, February 17, 2022 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Google Search Is Dying

DKB (Hacker News, Reddit):

Reddit is currently the most popular search engine. The only people who don’t know that are the team at Reddit, who can’t be bothered to build a decent search interface. So instead we resort to using Google, and appending the word “reddit” to the end of our queries.

[…]

Why are people searching Reddit specifically? The short answer is that Google search results are clearly dying. The long answer is that most of the web has become too inauthentic to trust.

Dan Grover:

It’s true; you can get better signal when you’re looking at discussions with actual people (even people you don’t know), with the added social context + validation of the specific subreddit.

I’ve noticed two separate things:

So, whereas I used to rely almost exclusively on Google, I now do site-specific searches where possible. Otherwise, I use Bing by default and Google as a backup.

Nick Heer:

But “DKB” is right about one thing: even if you are skeptical of the extent to which you can treat those charts as an indicator of trust in Google’s results — as I am — that results page is still pretty poor. The bizarre relationship between Google and marketers often means the first page is full of display ads and results that are effectively ads.

Kevin Roose:

The evolution of Reddit from nerd water cooler to toxic sludge pit to “only website left with usefully indexed user-generated content” is one of the weirder tech stories of the last decade.

Previously:

Update (2022-03-23): Abhinav Sharma (via Hacker News):

There’s been a lot of complaining about Google’s search results lately, especially when it comes to high-stakes subjective queries. But no viable competitor has emerged despite many new search engines launching lately.

At least nothing good enough that people are excitedly sharing “Hey, have you tried X lately, it’s way better than Google.” What follows is an effort to explain what’s going on and a pitch for an open-source project I’ve been working on that tries to solve the problem in a new way.

Update (2022-06-24): Charlie Warzel:

Like many, I use Google to answer most of the mundane questions that pop up in my day-to-day life. And yet that first page of search results feels like it’s been surfacing fewer satisfying answers lately. I’m not alone; the frustration has become a persistent meme: that Google Search, what many consider an indispensable tool of modern life, is dead or dying.

[…]

Haynes agrees that ads’ presence on Search is worse than ever and the company’s decision to prioritize its own products and features over organic results is frustrating. But she argues that Google’s flagship product has actually gotten better and much more complex over time. That complexity, she suggests, might be why searching feels different right now. “We’re in this transition phase,” she told me, noting that the company has made significant advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning to decipher user queries. Those technical changes have caused it to move away from the PageRank paradigm. But those efforts, she suggested, are in their infancy and perhaps still working out their kinks. In May 2021, Google announced MUM (short for Multitask Unified Model), a natural-language-processing technology for Search that is 1,000 times more powerful than its predecessor.

Nick Heer:

Earlier this year, our washing machine was not completing a cycle correctly. The model number seems to be one of those ones specific to a long-departed retailer; so, after I was unable to find a copy of the manual, I resorted to more general searches. Turns out that appliance troubleshooting seems to be one of the more polluted genres of query. DuckDuckGo and Google searches alike returned page after page of keyword-filled junk intended solely to rank highly.

7 Comments

Alexander Browne

I had used DDG instead of Google for a few years, but I switched to search.brave.com a few months ago and actually prefer it over Google most of the time.

I'm pretty happy with ecosia.org. Search results are federated from Bing and it motivates me seeing my tree counter go up over time.

Other things I've seen listed as "The second biggest search engine"
* YouTube
* The App store

I think context matters a lot. Heck, Marginalia is brilliant for deep geek stuff, but it's not what I'd bring to a deserted island.

I use Bing too, but often I still need to search for reddit results via Bing. There is just so much junk out there.

Why Bing rather than DuckDuckGo, given that Bing is the DDG backend?

+1 to Brave Search, which seems like it has better results to some test searches than the Bing backend.

It may be a corner case but too bad there is really no alternative for Google Scholar (farewell Microsoft Academic Search), although at least Google Scholar exsits.

@Sean The Bing results pages seem to work better for me than DuckDuckGo’s. I should probably try Brave Search.

The fact that they have "made significant advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning to decipher user queries" is the source of the trouble when I'm searching. Often I'll find that none of the top 10, 20, 30 results are even remotely relevant-- because instead of searching for pages with my search terms, they've tried to decipher some hidden meaning and given me crap as a result.

Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Comments RSS Feed for this post.

Leave a Comment