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Google is Broken

The reason I switched to Google years ago was it's ability to find exactly what I was looking for no matter what I typed in... with the first result being the exact right site 90+ percent of the time. It was really magical. But progressively, Google's search engine has gotten less and less accurate. I've noticed this over the course of at least a year now. That I'm having to refine my queries more often, having to change my key word searches more and then I'm still left with having to scroll through many pages worth of results to get the one result I'm looking for. This isn't a good sign. The web isn't getting easier to analyze, though people are trying. It's certainly not getting less complex. This problem will only get worse. Here are some of my issues with Google search:
  • I've been doing some analysis using Google compared to it's competitor search engines, and Google appears to have taken a dislike to .TV's and largely anything nondotcom. Oh sure, justin.tv, ustream.tv and tnt.tv still show up at the top of the list, but there's a huge barrier to entry for non.com's to get to the top of the list, at least in the US. Google needs to wake up to the realities of life that the extension is less important then the content. It also needs to do a better job of realizing that the extension is a valuable part of people's search keywords. If I search for Virtual Volunteer TV, I want VirtualVolunteer.TV like all the other search engines give me, not volunteertv.com. I can provide numerous examples like this and it's very frustrating as other search engines "get it".

  • Google needs to be start differentiating between "authoritative" sites like wikipedia.com, hotels.com, etc. and niche sites that cater to a specific market. Yes, page rank and links should matter, but far too often the first page of results in Google is the who's who of megasites and there's really very little relevance to what I'm searching for. Niche sites though, by their definition, will have fewer links to them, but they are highly relevant.

  • Social Media - Google does a horrible job of finding relevant social media. Where are the social network results when I search for Tampa. Don't tell me to go to blogsearch.google.com ... it's fine, but I shouldn't have to go to a walled off search page just for blogs. Honestly, how many facebook and twitter pages have you seen as the top result for your search queries and yet those places are alive with informative discussions and people who are talking about the things you care about.

  • Google is dumb - There are very few "smart" results (50 cm to inches) and don't get me started on the crap that is the Google local searches. There are very large advancements needed in the area of smart results. If I do a search for Andrew Douglas, I should see a contact management like interface because obviously I'm looking for a specific person. Google is now showing a "Profiles" feature... but I think that's a stretch. Google shouln't care where the information is stored. It's a search engine for crying out loud. Go find it. Preferably, Google would be smart enough to know that there is an Andrew Douglas in my social network and use that to make better search results too.

  • Google's ads are smarter than their results. It's an inevitability that when a company gets paid for one product and not paid for another, they'll spend more time on the thing they are getting paid for. My Google search results have, seemingly very little if any knowledge about where I am on Earth, for example... but the ads know. If I search for "news" while in Tampa, the ads give me links to news in Tampa, but the search listings don't list a Tampa specific site for quite a ways and even then it's mingled with Detroit news... so it's hard to say if that's just coincidence or if Google really does give some weight to your current location.

  • Google needs new competition in order to stay healthy. It's a basic law of the free market. Bing likely isn't it either. Nothing I've seen there really changes anything. It's also a basic law of the free market that someone will come along and replace it if it's being inefficient.

  • Google needs to get into real time, real fast. Crawling is dying. Polling is going the way of the dinosaur. There are bits moving way too fast for Google to keep up with and that means they will become less and less relevant. Services that can keep up will eventually take over if Google doesn't catch on to real time content. I'm hopeful that with Google Wave, they will finally step up their game, but I'm not sure any longer.

I'm not sure where that leaves us. I don't agree with the arguments lately that we've seen some sort of Peak Domaining. But I am getting more and more frustrated with the results I'm seeing from search engines in general. It's not just Google. The next time you have to refine your search, take a minute and wonder why. The next time the link you really wanted is found on page 5 of the search results, think about how the search engine could have done a better job finding that result for you. You'll quickly see that Google is broken, it's just a matter of time until everyone else realizes it, as well.


  1. Whats with all the doom and gloom? Anyways you first point is totally wrong and you just simply do not know how to use google IMO. .TV is a ccTLD no matter what it is branded, go to Google.tv and you will find what you are looking for. Same goes with any other ccTLD or ccTLD branded as a brand.

    "authoritative" sites got that way because they obviously provide what most people are looking for. If you are looking for a specific niche, try using keywords to your advantage. Most common mistake people make is that they provide a vague search term and google just pulls what is relevant to that search term as a general search. So getting these mega sites is your fault not googles.

    Social media, are you kidding me!? Why the hell would google want to pump their search results with companies that they do not own. That is just asking for bad business. I am sure if google ever got twitter, facebook, or any other major social media outlet they would then integrate it. We all know that search=money, why would google feed these companies for free?

  2. Well said -- I completely agree with you. There is far to much weight still placed on pagerank. Just because I have a PR4 or PR5 website about domain names shouldn't mean I can put up an article about widgets and outrank a widget expert...

    Their search doesn't seem to use the least bit of intelligence -- take the keyword "domain names" for example.. How many people searching that do you think are looking for an article that tells them what a domain name is? I'm guessing maybe 1% versus the other 99% that are looking for a link to a domain registrar.

    I wrote an article on my blog about how a porn website had cybersquatted on a university and now I am getting Google traffic from people looking for porn on my domain blog -- seriously wtf.

  3. Tivo: I pride myself on my google skills. I don't consider myself smart, I just know where and how to look for information. It's a large part of my job description. It's one of the reasons why I can feel pretty confident in saying that the quality of the results has gotten worse.

    The entirety of your argument is essentially that I'm stupid and Google is smart so I'm not going to bother with responding to each claim. But obviously, I disagree with you on every point you made. Thanks for the feedback though! :)