Hacker News Re-Imagined

Google no longer producing high quality search results in significant categories

  • 2813 points
  • 6 months ago

  • @lando2319
  • Created a post

Google no longer producing high quality search results in significant categories


@xenihn 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

This quote from a Wikipedia article about a Heinlein book is apt for this. It makes me think that what has happened here is not only inevitable for any disruptive tech company that grows large enough, but also any other sort of human collective in general:

"This theme is echoed elsewhere in Heinlein's works – that real liberty is to be found among the pioneer societies out along the advancing frontier, but the regimentation and legalism that follow bring restraints that chafe true individualists."

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@superasn 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

This will always happen because there are people who make good content and then there are people who are good at marketing/spamming or have deep pockets to pay people who do.

Also people who are the experts in their field and produce great content are also terrible marketers and couldn't be bothered to create "backlinks" or whatever google wants from you to get your content on top. Which is why Google sucks to bad these days.

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@lehi 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

You shouldn't expect DuckDuckGo to be better. DDG results have also gotten even more terrible with time.

I realized just today that adding quotes around search phrases in DDG makes it return nonsense (3 screenshots): https://imgur.com/a/2SHpjPG

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@fallous 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

How shocking. An advertising company who uses search as a venue for advertising does not produce the highest quality of search results for those who search.

Stop thinking of google/alphabet/insertnewbrandnamehere as a search company. They attempted to make money from the search engine in the 1990s when they couldn't find customers willing to pay for that technology and the company chose to make money from ads. Your company is defined by how you make money, not by user perception or press releases. Google is an ad company because they make money off of advertising. Goodies they give you that leads to better targeting of advertising for them is merely good ad business, stop thinking it's for any other purpose.

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@mrlanderson69 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

If anyone has the skills / wherewithal to work on this problem please send me an email asap (my email address is in my profile.)

And as I've stated, I will give you $500 if you do not like the demo of what we are building just to show you that I am not f*&%ing around with this. Our small team is growing very carefully in a well-defined niche for this.

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@xibalba 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

removed

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@gmi01 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I find myself adding the word “Reddit” after certain type of keyword searches so I can get real people opinions and experience on things.

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@swalls 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I was thinking this last night, as I searched for where Android Studio installed NDK and was directed to an article that started from how to open Windows Explorer... with a whole bunch of how to troubleshoot opening Windows Explorer to pad the article for adverts.

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@thesquib 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I have to agree. Lately (maybe year or so) it seems that researching anything that isn't clearly linked to some kind of product or service is difficult on Google.

It occurs to me that it could partly be that the "free and open" internet seems to be dying. For example, Discord or Slack are often used to replace message boards but that means they are no longer indexed and searchable. There are many examples like this right?

The old free hosted sites are dying off or provide no monetary value to Google. So even if they still exist, why bother indexing them.

This has nothing to back it up of course, just musings.

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@oblib 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I've noticed this too. In fact, some of their results are pretty close to worthless. Last week I posted a link here to a demo I made for creating and using "blobs" with PouchDB. I titled it "PouchDB/CouchDB Save/Update/Load Image Blob Demo".

After I posted it I monitored my web logs for a bit and watched both Google and DuckDuckGo hit the page.

3 days later I did a search for "PouchDB Image Blob Demo" on both Google and DuckDuckGo.

Google had almost nothing at all for that search and my page wasn't on any of the results they offered. DuckDuckGo had my post at #1 for that search.

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@nyx_land 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I often have to search the web for information about hormone therapy for trans peoole, long story short being that doctors tend to be pretty misinformed about HRT for trans people because the standards they use are based off information that is 20 years old, so trans women in the know tend to do their own research in order to get a decent HRT regimen.

Google is bad in general for health stuff, but it's particularly bad for searching anything trans-related because almost everything that comes up will either be clickbait liberal feminist listicles or clickbait right-wing transphobic FUD. Either way it's completely irrelevant to searching for something like differences in administering estradiol valerate vs estradiol enanthate. Like other people I tend to just look on reddit to find stuff that isn't SEO'd to hell, and there's a big community of trans biohackers on reddit, but it's very worrisome that it's this hard to find good content on the web without looking on yet another platform owned by a corporation that siloes peoples' content and can delete or mismanage that data at a moment's notice. It would be a tragic loss if reddit suddenly decided that the TransDIY subreddit violated the TOS for some reason, and I could very well see that happening.

It's no wonder the United States is as politically divided as it is considering that these services that are so deeply engrained into the lives of everyone clearly favor divisive content like politics that generates engagement. This is a thing that's been known but it's so plainly obvious that it's the case when trying to find information for something specific to your life if you're a minority whose existence is constantly being used as a talking point to signal where you stand in the culture war, and it effectively serves as a reminder to me when I use Google that this is all my existence is to most of society. You might think it sucks trying to find information about a vacuum cleaner or something and getting only shitty SEO'd spam, but you haven't seen anything until you've seen that information about something essential to your existence is nothing more than another piece of chum to trick people into looking at ads.

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@Volker_W 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Can you guys give me some good examples of sites that are "SEO crap" or google searches that do not return anything useful? I want to do some experients if I can write a program that takes a search query, hands it to google, takes googles result and reorders them a bit.

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@husamia 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

The econiomic model has to change. The next Google will be one of those decnetralized web3 app.

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@alphabet9000 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

ive been noticing something specific that seems not good: sometimes if you search for a series of words as an exact match, sometimes it will match but other times it doesn't, depending on which string of words you use from an article.

e.g. lets say a webpage has the following text on it: "hello my name is john my favorite color is red" .. searching for "my name is john my favorite" might find the page, but searching "is john my favorite color is" will return 0 results; even though the quote exists and should turn up the same result

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@csee 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Part of the degradation was when they got rid of URLs. I had a really good bullshit detector function in my head. The URL would go into it, and an intuition would pop out that it was a bullshit link. Now I can't do that.

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@liveoneggs 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

The last core update needs to be rolled back. I am getting top 10 results / rich-results sites showing adult ads on a regular basis now.

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@arkitaip 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

It's not just those categories that are producing low quality SERPs, almost any niche you can imagine is being assaulted using weaponized SEO because content marketing has become the competitive advantage of many organisations and part of the default toolkit of any site team.

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@deltron3030 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I'm wondering how you guys are searching, do you type in short word combinations like 20yrs ago or full sentences and questions? Thing is Google values search intent above anything else right now, and if you don't show clear intent they have to guess, and the selection of search results will be mixed in consequence.

Here's a up to date PDF from Google explaining search intent:

https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/guidelines.raterh...

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@pcdoodle 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I would pay $10.00/mo. to make google disappear forever.

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@adsharma 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Try "testing" as a sample query. I only see results about covid testing.

Would love to see dictionary like factual results instead of reflecting the controversial topics of the day based on what people are clicking on.

If in fact the idea is that a search engine needs to reflect the political opinions of its users, the incumbents are doing a very poor job.

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@projectileboy 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

It’s possible that a decent search engine should be considered public infrastructure, just like water and internet and roads and a fire department. If not public, then forming a non-profit may be the way to go. I don’t see how for-profit search doesn’t turn to trash, given sufficient time.

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@wayoutthere 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Yeah, Google today feels like the end stage of many of the pre-Google search engines. They were ok for a while, but eventually SEO tricks took over and ruined everything for everyone. What I worry about is that back in the 90s, everyone had a healthy dose of skepticism for anything you read off the internet. That’s not true today, and there’s a whole lot more incentive to put false information out there these days.

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@kristopolous 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I searched this entire thread for the word "fidelity" and got 0 results. The problem is the sophistication of the web has lost cadence with the coarseness of the tools. There is no way to get to there from here. What search means and how it is interfaced has to change.

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@twosugars 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Without AdBlock or browser like brave, Google search is a joke..

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@summerlight 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Beside of having more and more ads in the search results (which I think mostly driven by the pandemic because of significant revenue loss in 2020 Q2?), I think the web itself is the most significant offender of this problem. Not only those annoying SEO (which makes the problem exponentially harder), now more and more quality contents are going beyond unsearchable walled gardens. Basically almost all web sites from mid-sized tech companies now require some sort of sign-in by default and if you try to crawl it at scale, you'll get banned. Perhaps Twitter is the only significant exception to this trend.

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@pcurve 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

It's not just text search. Bing's Search by Image performs much better than Google's

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@the__alchemist 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Unfortunately, there's no superior alternative. Anecdotally, Google produces substantially more relevant results (For things I commonly search for) than Bing and DDG.

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@PaulHoule 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

(1) No external competitor that is really better (e.g. DDG might make you feel better about yourself, but it isn't much better.)

(2) The internal competitor of advertising. If the SERPs were perfect you'd have no reason to ever look at the ad.

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@aantix 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

What does it take these days to roll our own search engine?

I’m working on a new kind of search - I’d like to create my own independent index. Bing is fine, but restrictive. Gigablast is ok.

https://search-new.herokuapp.com/

Looks like the Common Crawl .WET files are about 10 TB (https://commoncrawl.org/2021/11/october-2021-crawl-archive-n... ).

Typesense recommends 3X the amount of RAM to hold the indexes.

30TB of RAM. Each TB server, what, $5k?

I'm sure some pages can be reduced. Worst case, $150,000 for server costs?

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@crazypython 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Brave Search and Bing wrappers like DuckDuckGo and EntireWeb as well as niche search engines like deephn.org and twitter.com are better

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@tayo42 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Ive wanted to share this similar sentiment but I had no idea where! Google search results are terrible lately. I'm frustrated by it. Im not sure how I feel about his categories though.

I have mixed opinions on recipes. The recipes that do show up are generally not great and seem to be there because of seo. And seo is really ruining the recipes pages them selves (extra content, misleading cook times) At the same time I don't really expect google searches to be a curator of good recipes. There is to much taste involved I think. But reputable site like serious eats almost never show up in results unless I search for it.

Health is a big topic, but health has been full of snake oils salesmens forever too, so its not surprising. You should probably talk with a doctor in most cases anyway?

Going on google for anything related to illegal drug use is a pita, it just brings you too like addiction sites and other useless info ime.

I also don't think that people are creating websites anymore? Where is there supposed to be info for the search engine to crawl? All real user content is on reddit, instagram, twitter and youtube. Maybe medium sometimes. All of that is easier for people to set up but not really set up for search engine to include as a good result. Instagram and twitter are especially bad, black holes of information.

For better or for worse, I usually use google to search to search reddit, then i can at least get some better starting point and return back to google with better terms. I don't really like this because reddit is a bit of a echo chamber.

Ive also stopped trusting searches in fields Im not familiar with because I know how bad the results are in fields I am familiar with. But i don't really know where else to go.

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@tucosan 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Since the incentives are currently stacked against the user, we might need something similar to AdBlock for search results with a community managed blacklist.

I personally use uBlacklist [1] to black useless sites like Pinterest or wikihow to appear in my search results.

[1]: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ublacklist/pncfbmi...

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@otherotherchris 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

In addition to the site:reddit.com trick, I find prefacing every keyword in intext:keyword prevents most forms of substitution (but disappointingly not stemming) and ensures what you search for is actually on the page.

Any other way of using google lets rankbrain swap your specific engineering jargon for high click-through kardashian news and rap lyrics.

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@elboru 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I’ve been using HN search a lot more lately. In the past I just used it to find old posts. But now I use it to research topics, the same way I used to use Google.

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@63 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I'd love to know why Google has started ignoring quoted terms and treating them like normal words in a query. I put it in quotes because I wanted that exact phrase, not something that sounds similar. If that exact phrase doesn't exist, tell me.

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@Nginx487 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google is producing predatory monopolistic practices, blocking users and deplatforming businesses amidst pandemics without any sane reason, destroying businesses and ruining lives.

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@firebaze 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

This has been true for a long time. I think it is still safe to assume googlers are not stupid, so there must be a reason for that. My guesses, in order of decreasing confidence:

(by far) 1) globally seen, the results given are best for the general population

2) search/ad revenue from "still-google-users" vs. switchers is in a sweet spot

3) ???

I'd bet on 1), since google was historically nerd-focused, but that changed long ago, and including inertia and stuff, they have probably realized by now that the crowd of "i know what i want, just give me the link" is not driving key performance indicators.

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@dageshi 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I've noticed the same thing and given it some thought recently.

I think a structural shift has occured. A decade+ ago people made sites about their hobby's and interests, they were amateur experts on subjects and because they enjoyed what they wrote about they tended to build up extensive knowledge bases on their subjects, effectively their sites let you learn a subject rather than just trying to give you quick direct answers which might actually not be right for you, their sites let you understand what you really needed.

I think the thing that changed, is those people or their newer versions moved to youtube instead. People make videos instead of articles and what's left on google is the seo'ified crap that lacks the deep knowledge and context the original sites had.

Of course google owns youtube so it likely doesn't care, but yes google search is now a lesser product and I'm not actually sure google can do anything about it.

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@Razengan 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google Search’s decline has been noticeable for 5 years, particularly in some countries more than others.

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@futuretaint 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

the free internet was cancelled w/ Richard Stallman I guess. This is what we get. what a great future we computer folks have provided to our next generation.

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@didip 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I am starting to think that Panda in 2011 caused Google to take such a huge revenue hit that they never attempt similar move anymore.

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@marstall 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

The one thing Google is good at is finding a specific named thing:

- google a company name, it will find the company's website.

- google a historical figure or event, it will bring you to the appropriate wikipedia page.

- google a product, it will show you the amazon link.

Google anything less specific, anything that requires some judgment to discern, and you are dropped you into the SEO bramble of bad information and hostile web design. That Google itself has created.

What a failure for a company with infinite resources, and which has recruited the best minds in computer science.

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@lifeplusplus 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

100% I end up prefixing my searches with Reddit it.. or stackoverflow. It wasn't the case even just 4 years ago.. now if if top results aren't it chances are that rest is even more completely off mark

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@TechTiki 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I don't believe 100% of the blame lies with Google. It could partly be that there is just a lack of good content on the internet nowadays. Take product reviews for example. You'd have to pay for a web developer, designer, buy a lot of products, hire journalists to test the them and produce content, that all costs a lot. Is it feasible to do this based of a few ads and affiliate links a lot of which will be blocked anyway?

I think what we need is a global micro payment system which enables good content creators to be funded for their work directly.

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@ronenlh 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

If one had all the resources, what should be done to make the web searchable/indexed in a relevant way?

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@ricardo81 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Accuracy aside, I find one of the biggest barriers to easy searching is content padding.

So many queries can be answered in a sentence or two but are spun out into an entire article so that it is more search engine 'friendly'.

Same goes for YouTube videos, pad it out so there's enough time for ads.

I think Google would like something like Pagerank but for authors. Unfortunately Google+ never reached critical mass. Structured data is more prevalent, though, but the accuracy/trustworthiness of it is something that'd have to be taken into consideration.

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@janandonly 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

The Customer Is King. Google will do anything they can to make their customers happy.

An often made mistake is thinking of yourself as a Google customer.... you are their product (to marketeers) not their customer.

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@littlecranky67 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I wonder if the world needs a stackoverflow for products/travel/restaurant/recipies etc. Something with a reputation system that works pretty well in SO - i.e. if you are constantly ask stupid answers or given stupid/marketing answers, you get downvoted and at some point lose your ability to vote. Problem is of course, the majority decides what is "stupid", and to my experience going over Amazon Reviews, the majority seems not to get the idea.

Unfortunately SO doesn't allow questions a la "Which is the best printer for doing X" :(

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@silisili 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I would advise against Googling anything medical. Outside of terrible SEO results, WebMD telling you you are going to die, the ads linger around forever.

I remember Googling something I had read about or saw on TV out of curiosity. I got ads about help for said disease I don't have for at least a month...

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@DoingIsLearning 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

With all due respect to Michael but has he not used Google in the past years? This has been an issue since at least 2016. SEO won.

Maybe some googlers can answer this but i assume that Singhal was very conservative against AI for ranking. But when he left Giannandrea started rolling out the "natural language" queries with "let me just ignore your query because we know better" algorithms, also slowly removed operators/keywords used by power users. And well SEO really have gotten better so it all piles up.

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@dleslie 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

It's funny, I've gone through a number of search engines. Webcrawler, altavista, lycos, yahoo, google and now duck duck go. DDG is the only one that hasn't been an abrupt switch. I would search DDG, then !g if I didn't find a tolerable result. But that's increasingly changed in the last few years, to the point that I have stopped using !g altogether.

More often I want !w, !gh, !mdn, !msdn, !v, !osm or similar.

It's that which makes DDG great: instead of being one search engine to fit all, it's a portal to services with specialized information. If you're using DDG's basic search to find specific information then you're using it wrong.

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@ALittleLight 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

One point about all the "Top X lists" and general blogspam that Google returns - I had once created a website that I was trying to get listed on these sites. I emailed a few of them to get my site listed and they transparently and directly offered to list my site for relatively small amounts of money. It was literally an exchange of 100 dollars for listing my site at number 1 and I got to write the description that went on their website.

My point here is to add that in addition to the Google results being bad (they are listicles and blogspam rather than the answers you want) they are also corrupt in that people can just pay the owners of the spam sites to get the listings they want. This is a tax on the users by giving them indirect and bad results and also a tax on creators by forcing them to pay third parties to get their websites to rank in the appropriate Google searches or work on SEO voodoo to rank themselves.

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@agencies 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Who has concrete steps to make this better? Seems like one or two people are making their own engines, but moving the needle is going to take a lot more than that...

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@tiberriver256 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Could this be a side effect of web developers moving away from traditional websites to single page web apps? Single page apps are notoriously difficult to make SEO friendly but right now they are the hotness. A 'crappy' WordPress site will be much easier to get ranked on Google than a multi million dollar angular site.

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@pastelsky 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I wish Google had a toggle switch that isn't slowed you real user generated content... Like filter out all sites that are in Alexa top 10 for the category, and just show geniune niche blogs and forums with rich informed discussions.

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@mrlanderson69 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

We are working on exactly this problem. IF anyone wants to see a demo please email me.

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@jimrandomh 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google is pretty bad at handling specific technical queries, and I'm pretty sure it's because their internal metrics don't account for the possibility that a query might have no useful results, or have only one result which requires some iteration on the search terms to find.

What happens is, if you search for something that's specific enough that there are few results or no results, it will either ignore keywords, assume that you meant to put a space inside a multi-word identifier, or spellcheck-correct something that wasn't actually misspelled. This produces convincing-looking decoy results, and you have to look closely (or click through) to find out that it's wasting your time, them rerun the same query in verbatim mode or with more quotes.

So then you've forced it to verbatim mode, and reached a query which, let's say, has one StackOverflow thread which you've already read and which failed to answer the question. Then your search results will be a couple pages of StackOverflow scraper sites. I never want to visit a StackOverflow scraper site. They should be easy to detect. Why aren't those domains being blocked properly?

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@calltrak 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Here is a list of alternative search engines

https://fabform.io/a/alternative-search-engines

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@alecbz 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I admit I'm somewhat pre-inclined to defend Google here a bit. That said:

I wonder how much of this is an issue of the incentives for producing different kinds of content, as opposed to just an issue of what Google chooses to optimize for.

I.e., yeah, lots of searches turn up mostly listicle bullshit. But is that because higher quality content is more difficult to monetize (e.g., people that are inclined to click on listicles are more likely to click on ads?), and therefore less likely to be produced in the first place, and even if produced, its authors are less likely to put in money/effort into SEOing it?

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@bravoetch 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

This has been a known issue for years already. It's the 'attention economy' where nothing matters as much as engagement. Quality is not even an important metric. What we've been left with is visiting the same few websites we like, interacting on a couple of non-corrupted social channels where ads can't invade, like group chats in signal, and constantly unsubscribing from email lists because even the local ice-cream store knows that mailing lists are the best conversion channel.

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@8fingerlouie 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

This has been going on for 2+ years now.

When i started using DuckDuckGo, i somewhat frequently had to do a !g to find what i was looking for, but for the past couple of years DDG has been spot on, and Google returns mostly trash. Not that it matters when all the good answers are on Reddit or StackOverflow.

Sadly, DDG lacks behind in the (local) shopping category, at least if you're in the EU.

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@miav 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

The linked tweets imply that this decline in search results was Google's choice, led by desire for further monetization or exec incompetence, but I think Google is simply facing an impossible task.

Receiving an arbitrary question and finding the most helpful site for that question out of the entire web is already nearly impossible.

Now consider the above problem, except the sites you have to search are highly adversarial. More precisely, the internet is roughly divided into people who post useful content and have little interest in SEO and those who only care about SEO and clicks and not about creating useful content. The latter are more motivated and have more resources. For every useful site, they can take that site and create 100 of their own copies with the same content, more aggressive SEO and their own ads.

How is Google, or anyone else, supposed to navigate this landscape?

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@stavros 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google sucks completely for me (I use DDG as my main search engine but that only sucks slightly less). It's all spam and I can't find anything. In particular, I used to be able to find useful blog articles on any programming problem I had. Now it's either SO or nothing, whereas I'm sure the articles exist somewhere.

I saw kagi.com mentioned on an article here and tried it out, and so far it's been much better than Google. It gives me reddit results, which are very useful because it's just people posting their reviews/solutions, and it gives me small site results, which are usually helpful. If I have to pay for it, I will, because the free option is just useless now.

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@ur-whale 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

From the Twitter thread:

> I’m pretty sure the engineers responsible for Google Search aren’t happy about the quality of results either.

Strongly disagree.

I'm pretty sure the kind of drive and passion that led to the very high quality of Google search back in the day is long gone.

At this point, people do not join Google for the technical challenge or the reputation and/or ethos of the company, but for the fat bonuses and RSU grants.

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@dahart 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

> Also, how can a search category be SEO’d into ruin? Isn’t search engine optimization supposed to produce “better results”? Doesn’t Google exclusively control the results it displays…

This seems almost willfully naive. Why would SEO produce better results for the searcher? It’s optimizing rankings for sites who want to appear higher up in the results. Of course SEO is going to degrade the results. Of course every site on the planet is going to try to game Google search and appear higher in the list.

Yes there are conflict of interest issues between serving high quality search results and making money serving ads in those results, and yes Google is consciously allowing some of this to happen. BUT - this was inevitable. Any popular search engine is going to be gamed by the entire rest of the world, and the scale is too large for Google to control it. Michael might not be aware that, despite the conflicts of interest, Google really does spend considerable amounts of time fighting against search-degrading SEO?

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@baxuz 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I've tried searching for some technical details on some of my car's components. No matter what search query I used, the first few PAGES of search results were links to non-original parts on ebay, amazon, aliexpress etc.

To get the actual details I had to go register on a forum and ask people there. Feels like pre-google all over again.

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@tailspin2019 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

The question in my mind, is whether Google has now gone too far in one particular direction for it to be able to ever recover.

It feels like we need a new kind of search engine with a radically different commercial/operating model to take over, with healthier underlying incentives driving the decision making. I don't see the likes of DDG or Bing as being good enough alternatives - they have many of the same problems and aren't significantly different enough from the "Google model".

Perhaps we need a not-for-profit structure for something as important as search. I know Mozilla and Wikimedia have their own problems, but perhaps something along the lines of how these organisations are structured.

Or, we remove the "indirection" baked into the commercial model and allow people to just pay directly for good quality search. Essentially have a model where the "product" is high quality, unbiased search results, as opposed to the product being the eyeballs of the customers using it. The revenue comes from people who can afford to pay for some premium features, where the search results fundamentally are the same for all, but the subscribers (or donors) get added benefits like bookmark syncing, cloud storage or other value-adds.

But, the subscribers effectively subsidise the otherwise completely free search engine for everyone else. The core search results are the same for everyone, paid or not, it has to be a fair, open and non-discriminatory in that respect.

I don't know whether this works commercially, without being pulled into the cesspit of "paid listings" and advertising, or whether it would have to be a not-for-profit/charity setup which also relies on external donors, but that has its own challenges.

As someone who relies on search as part of my day-to-day job, I would happily pay a monthly subscription for a good, clean search engine. Partly out of a moral conviction that an unbiased search engine with good underlying incentives is an important thing for the world, and partly from a more selfish perspective of wanting to improve the quality of a tool that I use and rely on.

I pay Google nothing currently. I considered signing up to YouTube Premium - which I'd be happy to do, if it didn't rely on a whole extra level of Google tracking then being turned on for me (ie. needing to be constantly signed in to YouTube - which then conveniently signs you in to all other Google properties). It feels like even when you pay for a Google service, you're still "the product" and not "the customer".

I occasionally see new search engine projects listed on HN. I wonder if anyone is working on something that may one day be able to knock Google off the top spot - a position which I believe it no longer deserves.

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@TroyMacLure 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Search for "more evil than the devil"... Reference to some rich entreprener...

We used to say that what is brought on the Web stay on the Web... Not anymore.

Marketing ruinned everything, as usual.

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@amai 5 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

We need a classic spam filter for search results. I can mark emails as spam. Why can I not mark search results as spam? This could be used to train a naive bayesian filter similar to the spam filter in my inbox.

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@spankalee 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I'm a current Googler, so yeah, I'm biased, but I work far away from search so I'm basically a plain consumer of it, and this is lazy thinking:

"I’m pretty sure the engineers responsible for Google Search aren’t happy about the quality of results either. I’m wondering if this isn’t really a tech problem but the influence of some suit responsible for quarterly ad revenue increases."

I'm pretty sure Google doesn't make enough money on third party sites to intentionally make its own search results worse.

What's happening here is the ever-growing battle between search algorithms and SEO. Most of sites that he is complaining about are likely doing an incredible amount of optimizations for search engines and human psychology to show on search results pages and get people to click on them. They A/B test, within singe sites as well as run the same or slightly modified content through site networks.

So sites optimize to get crappy filler content on Google, and Google changes to demote those sites and produce better results (which people still complain about).

This is also the reason that it's not so simple to do better than Google. A new search engine also has to have an algorithm and presumably it'll share many of the same approaches that Google has used and have been gamed by content farms. If a search engine does come up with a break-though mechanism to separate the bad from the good, then either sites will adapt to that, and/or Google and other engines will adopt similar mechanisms too.

And if a search engine somehow made an un-gamable algorithm, then that would be a pure good for humanity and go them.

But also in these types of discussions you really need to bring receipts. Otherwise it's hard to talk about what's even good or bad. What terms did he search for? Which results were bad? What should have been there instead?

I did a quick search for "hip replacement" and the results look great to me: top result from American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, a definition card, then Mayo Clinic, medlineplus.gov, Johns Hopkins, local MDs, new stories, images, WebMD, etc., and seemingly useful related searches like "What are the signs I need one"...

Maybe that's just not a monetizable enough term. "quit smoking" should maybe turn up crappy help articles, but it's also pretty good. Two ads at the top this time, then CDC, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, lung.org, local results, WebMD, etc..

Not that I don't believe the author, but he's certainly invested either directly or indirectly into companies working both sides of the SEO war, from search tech like Metaphor to algorithmic SEO like RankScience. So rather than trusting him that results are bad, it would help an honest discussion to point out examples.

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@bigodbiel 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google broke it’s own algorithm pushing too far their agenda, and forgetting to balance the cat and mouse base with SEO.

The time is ripe for another search engine to dominate, preferably for niche segments of the web. I miss “I’m feeling lucky button” search button!

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@cjlovett 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

It's amazing to me it's 2022 and Google search results are still so useless. I'm finding myself use duckduckgo a lot more these days.

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@jl6 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

It would be helpful if these articles/threads included:

1. The term being searched for

2. Screenshot of the actual results

3. Demonstrably better link that doesn’t appear high in the results

I’m not sure Google is capable of doing anything about the issue without some concrete examples.

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@Traster 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

>I’m pretty sure the engineers responsible for Google Search aren’t happy about the quality of results either. I’m wondering if this isn’t really a tech problem but the influence of some suit responsible for quarterly ad revenue increases.

This seems like a pretty irresponsible and ridiculous thing to say. "I think X product is shit, and I'm fairly sure that the engineers working on X would agree and blame product managers" sounds like a valid thing to say if you were at reddit, or dropbox - where it's both true and Seibel should know about it (since he's in a position to know how rubbish they are), but to speculate about one of your competitors in this way is a little... self serving.

Google search actually really reassures me, because Seibel is right, there aren't really any direct network effects, if it got bad I'd move. In fact I did move. I started using duckduckgo when I could, but any time I search for technical issues (something that's likely to result in stackoverflow results or similar) I go back to google. Why? It works.

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@LaunchAway1 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Internet is just for tourists now. We all know how it sucks but no one finds a solution. Now what?

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@diegocg 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google was still useful for things that are non-marketable. But in the last year or so, I have started to realize how awfully bad has gotten even at that.

Case in point: Open source mailing list archives. For various reasons, some times I have to search for entire email threads that are available in the web interfaces of some mailing list archives. I have part of a phrase of some email, I put that into google with quotes, and it returns some results, usually with the main archive being in the first results. In the last year or so, Google has started returning no results for some phrases of emails that do exist and are available in one or more public archives.

When that started to happen, I tried Bing. And Bing returns results with links to archive. So does duckduckgo most times. But for Google, it's like if that particular email I'm searching at that moment didn't exist (for other emails in the same mailing list it works fine). It only happens occasionally, but it's getting worse. So I have started to rely on DDG and Bing more and more, because they always find what I want.

So Google is starting to fail at some of the most basic aspects of a search engine, it's not just the ordering of the search results - there are some public web pages that it won't see for whatever reason.

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@neals 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google is slowly becoming BING. I would love for Mircosoft to step up and weird everybody out by building some kind of open source superior search engine.

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@ncpa-cpl 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

What's a good alternative for recipes?

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@hereforphone 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Ten years ago I complained on a random forum about Google's seeming refusal to give me information about running Skyrim under Linux with the Wine emulator. I tried various search combinations and all I could easily get was information about wine manufacturers and locations in the Skyrim world. Didn't matter if I used "emulation" or "wine emulator" or similar terms, even in quotes, or if I used the '+' character, or otherwise tried to harness Google's literal search functions.

Was I searching wrong? Didn't seem so to me at the time, but I don't remember the exact queries. Those in the forum thread thought I just didn't know how to use a search engine. I still think it was Google telling me what it thought I really wanted, instead of what I was literally asking for.

I still see results that don't include words that I search for in quotes, often.

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@hwers 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Just today I googled "torch normalize -1 1" and it said "zero documents matches your query". Insane stuff. (Censorship with crazy high false positives? Incompetence?) I went to duckduckgo and immediately found a useful answer.

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@evouga 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

It's not just Google---the World Wide Web itself is rapidly becoming a defunct protocol, the culmination of a decades-long shift in the Internet's center of mass away from browsers and towards centralized and commercialized apps---from personal web pages to LinkedIn/GitHub/Twitter handles, from the ubiquitous WordPress blogs to YouTube videos and Medium posts, and from forums to Tweets and subreddits.

The useful information on the Web is now concentrated in a few places---Reddit, Quora, Stack Exchange, Wikipedia, etc. When I want reasonable search results, I search there instead of the Web as a whole. (And even many of these services are in the late stages of the Silicon Valley life cycle---desperate monetization and engagement-increasing gimmicks---with uncertain futures.)

Wikipedia, bless its heart, lurches on as a cathedral to early Web's dream of information democratization. It stands as a wonder of the ancient world: incomplete, built from technology few now understand, and reflecting values and priorities that no longer quite align with contemporary culture. But it persists thanks to its inertia and the undeniable sense of awe it invokes even today.

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@hirundo 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Yesterday I heard a Joe Rogan guest mention a particular non-Rogan podcast episode. It was a discussion about science and policy by two professional, well credentialed scientists and a layperson. I Googled it, couldn't find it. Same for Bing and DDG. Turns out it had been a popular YouTube video, but they objected to the conclusions and de-platformed it, from YouTube and the big indexes.

It took maybe another dozen clicks to find it on one of the participant's own blog. And the podcast is still up and hosted by Apple. So it's something that you can find if you know about it, but not by searching on the topic. At this point, at least, the shadow ban is still soft.

Add that as a data point for Google no longer producing high quality search results.

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@temikus 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Yeah I often have to add “reddit” afterwards and hunt for links there or use “site:” predicate to get decent results in addition to using a results blocker to filter out a lot of useless SEO results (e.g. Pinterest/Gitmemory)

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@alfiedotwtf 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

As long as Pintrest keeps coming up in the top 5 results, the title holds

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@zbtaylor1 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

My first web job was building websites for a rinky-dink SEO company. My boss had zero qualms churning out trash content while trying to game the system. How can Google fight an infinite sea of these operations? I'm not sure who's to blame at this point.

Like many HN users, I assume, my method for finding useful info online has always been to find a forum. You can't monetize a forum post without it being ignored or discouraged by the community so until that changes forums will always provide the most consistently helpful content on the net.

Obviously these companies are making enough money off the segment of the population that does not behave this way to make it worth their while. My question is how big is this segment and will it slowly dissolve as older generations pass and more grow up with the internet? Or will there always be enough people susceptible to this spam that the internet will never get better?

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@Commodore63 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google seems to value recency over quality - a huge shame, given that the quality content has moved off the open web into walled gardens. If you elevate recently, you get churnalism, blogspam, and vacuous GPT3 bot content.

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@unixhero 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

One example: Try to find product reviews of VITRA Office chairs such as EA119 and so on. Impossible!

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@ggm 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Wouldn't there be a huge risk to alphabet that this kills the goose that lays the golden eggs?

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@technotarek 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

To all those hating on affiliate marketing and how google is ruining the internet as a place for reliable product research, I propose a different take. Affiliate marketing is actually a way to fund product research and testing. The problem is those that currently pay out are too few. Imagine if all products/sellers provided a potential payout equally on par with one another? Then you could help protect against the bias that leads to only Amazon and Walmart stocked reviews. To boot, you create incentives to shop from a wider scope of vendors and marketplaces.

We do affiliate marketing on ATTIC.city that we believe is honest and fair. We let every product on, from almost any vendor (that we can technically support), regardless of whether we have a commission agreement. Our search results always give the best match that we can for your query. Period.

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@apricot13 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I'd noticed this too but I've found that the best results usually are now on page 2 or 3 and the first few pages I've mentally written down as 'sponsored links' so I've just trained myself to ignore them!

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@firebaze 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

The most advanced AI staff, their algorithms beating even go champions, still being worse in search than ever before. Beaten by bing.com, yandex.com and others, at least in my humble opinion.

Something must be wrong, but I don't know what.

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@csbartus 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Back to the old days. Instead of search, curation.

I have the same problem for years. I simply can’t find the best library / package out there. Neither on Google nor on Github, npm, Duck and co. Therefore I’ve started to build my own personal search engine powered by bookmarks and tags. The irony is that I use Gmail as a bookmarking and tagging provider where search works just perfect.

In addition I subscribe to lots of newsletters, so an inbox search gives the industry pulse + my personal faves.

Outside my expertise / domain I rely on friends. Want a new technical jacket for winter? I ask my friends who do winter sports for ages. In reverse, I give them advice for the web.

And I don’t mind. This is how we went back to ‘personal’ computing.

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@mhb 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Any way web of trust can fix this?

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@wolpoli 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Has anyone noticed that we can't click past page 10 on many search queries? Isn't Google being misleading when it claims it found 2 million results, but it won't show past result 100?

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@emrah 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

One thing everyone seems to be overlooking is that "quick answers" (or whatever they are called) and the accompanying "related questions" are very good and Google seems to be optimizing for them for the most part.

I agree, Google is no longer good for technical questions or specific queries (like copy/pasting errors messages) but I imagine they crunched the numbers and found that they don't bring much revenue anyway

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@Ostrogodsky 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

> Google no longer producing high quality search results in significant categories

> Amazon no longer producing high quality products in significant categories

> Netflix no longer producing high quality movies search results in significant categories

> Facebook no longer producing high quality anything in significant categories

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@woodruffw 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Has anybody else noticed a decline in Wikipedia's placement on many Google search results?

More often than not I want Wikipedia as my first result, both as a cross-reference for anything else I click on and as an index for other useful or interesting links. They were consistently in the top 5 results for anything that actually had a Wiki page for years, but now I have to pull the top few pages or even write `$query wiki` to get Google to reliably bring Wikipedia up.

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@dennis-tra 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

What a coincidence, just today I had a conversation about the decreased quality of Google’s search results. Glad, I’m not alone.

I’ll give you.com a full weeks trial as it wasn’t mentioned that often in the comments yet.

Their CEO is following the twitter thread [0] and comments here [1] but is probably hesitant to advertise it here on HN.

So, I’m doing it now as I have high expectations. I’m not affiliated in any way.

[0] https://twitter.com/richardsocher/status/1477748601539411971...

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=richardsocher#293994...

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@bromuro 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I am using Google to look for programming documentation or solutions to particular problems. Top results are very often unrelated spam from Medium, clones of SO, SEO website against npm, etc

It’s quite hard to make specific searches - it insists to show me generic results, either by “did you mean?”, or excluding the keyword I explicitly added, or because it thinks I am looking for something more common.

If there are no results they should just tell me - instead of trying to keep me “engaged” with their spam.

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@KingMachiavelli 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

It's a bit ironic that this post is part of the problem. It's very hard to make money in decent product reviews but there is money in SEO optimization & referral links. Most product feedback and honest opinions are shared on sites like Twitter & Reddit which range from bad-SEO (Reddit, Youtube) to deliberately anti-SEO (Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest). While this thread/opinion is on HN ATM, it will quickly be gone and no one using a search engine will find it (if they do it will probably be via finding a HN or Reddit post first).

That said I'm not sure what search results this person is actually getting but I really haven't had a problem using DDG or Google. I just know that what's marketed and used by the average consumer tends to be pretty bad if you ask any expert or enthusiast. I don't think this is search engines being bad at their job it's just that most topics bifurcate quickly into average people and amateur experts/enthusiasts.

Here's an example. Coffee. It's a very common beverage that millions if not billions of people drink every day. However, coffee culture for the average person is very different from enthusiast coffee culture.

Search engine's are not even that bad... if you look up a good coffee grinder. The top sites on both DDG/Bing and Google do mention the difference between a blade and burr grinder. The most recommended option looks pretty decent. This is probably a much better option for 90% of people than getting the 'enthusiast' (no-brand industrial burr grinder) option off of Ebay.

Anyone who complains about search engine result quality is a completely different demographic from the typical person. I don't think Google's search as gotten worse but rather typical user (i.e. training data) becoming more average.

Another good example are TVs. Everyone and everyone's dad knows that Costco has some pretty good deals on TVs as well as offering a best in class warranty. However, if you read the forums and in-depth reviews you will quickly notice that Costco doesn't have 90% of the best TV in each price range. The average consumer wants the best Costco TV not the best TV as long as you get X% discount and you calibrate yourself, etc.

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@grishka 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Searching anything related to programming inevitably yields some of those StackOverflow mirrors. Sometimes they are crappily machine translated into my native language. And sometimes they're ranked higher than the actual StackOverflow.

Google won't let people blacklist domains, so I had to write some uBO rules to get rid of those results on the browser side.

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@laurex 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I've felt this pain and often wondered why search engines don't allow one to set fairly complicated ongoing preferences that lead to more trusted results. Yes, I might miss some information by aggressive filtering but I'd prefer it to the utterly useless results I usually get.

I typically use DDG but it's gotten to the point where even putting quotes around terms still yields results without the term, and where there seems to be almost no way to avoid results that are untrustable SEO-driven dreck.

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@phkahler 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

>> This is why no software incumbent is truly protected from startup disruption

Not quite. It's why publicly traded companies are not protected, they can never make enough profit. At least not in today's world where the whole market looks like a scam.

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@xqcgrek2 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Yes, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. There isn't a credible alternative either, so the world is basically returning to the altavista epoch with online tabloids everywhere.

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@hartator 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I wonder if it will make sense to now build a meta search engine using SerpApi [1], weight couple of websites more like reddit or stackoverflow, remove adds, and repackage all this listings into a super simple UI.

[1] https://serpapi.com

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@ilamont 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

This was the nail in the coffin for me:

When did Neil Armstrong set foot on Mars? (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28224730) (October 2021)

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@fnord77 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

protip: add "forum" to your search. you'll get hits from actual forums and you'll bypass a lot of seo crap

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@umvi 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Ugh, this is so true. It's getting increasingly difficult to break out of the SEO twilight zone. SEO is the worst thing that's ever happened to online search because it's completely poisoned the top N search results with garbage/ads. I have a very hard time finding organic content anymore. For example, I was trying to find an organic (written by a human who has tried the two products) comparison between two processors. It was impossible - I could only find AI generated sites that programmatically pulled the specs in a side-by-side comparison (which I had already done) but offered zero additional insights.

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@bryguy32403 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

300+ comments in a hour??? C'mon now, this all can't be genuine. I don't think Google returns the best results all the time either, but most "outage" posts don't get this much engagement so quickly.

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@servytor 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

The future of search isn't better search results - it's a customized solution to you and what you are looking for at that moment. I imagine a future where Google returns an AI interactive summary query with sources.

But at the same time I always thought of how odd it is that Google competes in an area where there is no user lock-in whatsoever - I mean search should be one of the most easy areas to disrupt - with almost no competitors.

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@everydaybro 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I have a question: why is google still number one? everyone know that the search results are bad

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@emptyparadise 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Searching for any PC technical issue solutions is impossible, all you get is grifters selling you PC cleaner junk or some poor overworked Microsoft support tech telling you to run "sfc /scannow" to fix a hardware issue.

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@lbrito 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Search results are decent for most technical stuff, but anything consumer product-related is abysmal. I always seem forced to go to YouTube for that.

When I'm searching for "best short throw projector", most of all the results on Google are SEO spam. The same search on YouTube has a lot of low quality YouTuber garbage as well, but there are at least a couple of high quality results where the host tests input lag, fan loudness etc of several projectors. This is the kind of content that used to exist in sites (I remember Tom's Hardware from the early 2000s), but now seems to be hidden deep in YouTube only.

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@com2kid 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Someone could make a fortune launching a search engine running Google's algorithms circa 2010!

Actually, thinking about it, Google has always been fighting low quality results from spammers and SEO. I remember 2017-2019 there were multiple topics that you just couldn't research on Google because the SEO blog spam was so overwhelming.

I can confirm that recipes are a mixed bag, but some team at Google is working hard to try and make them good, it is just a really difficult fight. It doesn't help that the number of recipe sites keeps exploding.

Oh by the way, if you want good recipes, just pay for a Cook's Illustrated subscription. There. Done. Sadly NYT Cooking has started adding some really low quality recipes that honestly no one should be making.

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@gumby 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google remains pretty good if you’re searching for pretty obscure topics.

Which support’s Seibel’s point.

You do have to go to extra lengths to keep the search on topic though. Google tries to DWIM the search (“seems unlikely the user is really looking for insect embryology”). Is this well meaning or steering the search to revenue-generating topics?

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@bonyt 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

One category I’ve noticed this kind of thing in is calorie counts. I’ll search for a product that should have an official nutrition page from the brand’s website, and get pages and pages of websites that just seem to regurgitate from some large database.

I use MyFitnessPal to log calories, and it already has one of these large databases. I’m usually searching online to validate it against another source, so this is pretty unhelpful.

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@moonshotideas 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

It seems like most of the comments seem to be on one of two sides. 1. Learn to live with this, and you’ve helped creat this problem 2. This is terrible but some other non related point

It seems to be that the original only grail algorithm -page rank, that made google the superstar it is, can be hacked in a way that saturates the internet with low quality search results.

The obvious question seems to be what algorithm could be used to identify/differentiate low quality websites from high quality sites

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@seventytwo 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

100%.

I’ve been noticing Google returning lower quality results consistently for at least a year.

My guess is that the results are based on relevant info, but also on which pages can serve up the most ads at the same time. Because the internet is heavily influenced by search algos, over time, this decision feeds back on itself and results in search results being spammier, less content rich, and less accurate.

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@ckmar 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

What are your thoughts on using social trust for this? EG https://app.kujo.com

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@Justin_K 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Their algorithms find it more engaging if I have to click through 50 crappy links to find one good one. If I spend 5 extra minutes browsing Google, that's a great metric, right?

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@tonymet 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Let's be honest, with rare exception, compelling & relevant content is no longer on the web. It's found on chats where people can be candid, like Signal & Telegram. To some degree it's on twitter where you can curate trusted publishers, and other social media. There are exceptions e.g. Substack, but most of the web content is seo clickbait.

The author ignores the more pernicious problem : ML fairness. Google is editorializing results by up-ranking positions it prefers. Check the results on any controversial topic like race, politics, abortion, covid treatments, etc.

The problem is that 95% of consumers believe google represents the truth.

Just go back to first principles before the internet and make sure you trust the publishers, sources & references. Also don't ignore your own observations. There's a PR campaign fighting your own critical thinking abilities.

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@988747 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

And yet, every time I try to use DuckDuckGo I get frustrated very quickly with a quality of results and go back to Google

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@bamboozled 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

On a side note, I went to use Google places API yesterday and the offering is trash. They get reviews for free (including my own) then expect me to pay through the nose to access that data and guess what, if you want to cache any of the results for performance and reliability reasons you’re violating their terms of service because that would impact their bottom line.

Disgusting.

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@lumost 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

The comments seem to regularly reference the poor quality of content on crafting and other activities due to SEO spam and affiliate marketing. However I wonder if the root cause is a dearth of useful content which is also not trying to sell you something.

Anecdotally the only "interesting" content I find while searching is either from the old internet or medium. I suspect that many content makers have moved on due to lack of audience.

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@onion2k 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I've thought about this a lot over the past few years, and I've come to the slightly sad conclusion that Google isn't to blame. It's just that there isn't any good quality information on the web anymore. Google does its best, but it's working with crappy data. No one wants to spend time and effort making a great website about <insert literally any topic here> unless they're in it for the money. That means Google will only ever return blogspam, affiliate websites, and SEO-optimized ecommerce websites for practically any search now. This is in contrast to the good old days when people made websites for fun and searches actually found the high quality content that was out there. These days searches don't find quality content because, on the whole, it doesn't exist.

This isn't universally true of course. There is some good content. But it's never what you're searching for; it's only good when you stumble across it, or you find a link on HN/Reddit/etc. It's just interesting rather than specifically good or useful.

To an extent Google is to blame because AdSense and DoubleClick drove the shift from people publishing what they love to people publishing for dollars, but, and this is somewhat cynical I know, I genuinely wonder if we're actually on the brink of realising the web as a publishing platform just isn't that great.

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@Volker_W 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I wish there was a hackable search engine where you could e.g. write a python script that moves all websites down that have ads or appear in some list.

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@nikanj 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I agree with the author re: results being useless, but strongly disagree on the motivation.

Google doesn’t show crappy results to optimize adwords, blackhat SEO hackers force their crap onto the fromt page.

The whole thread after the first tweet seems to assume Google is behind this, when in reality their failure comes from not successfully blocking the spammers

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@unnouinceput 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

The comments on both Twitter thread and here on HN goes something like "better have your own communities on Reddit and StackOverflow for your advanced queries". Sooo, we go back to Yahoo's grouping/directories that was the norm in 90's, eh? And Google bested that by going with their unique search algorithm in early 2000's. Hence next is going to be a reinvention of the wheel by DuckDuckGo I suppose.

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@anotheraccount9 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

It's time for a(nother) revolution with search engines. The web is, more than ever, filled with affiliate links, retarded ads, and crappy sites that exist for the sole purpose of redirecting traffic. Most of us browse less 2% of the web. I miss Archie and Veronica. I'm probably complaining too much and totally out there, but I miss discovering insane intellectuals, incredibly unique and valuable content, rebellious nerds, everyday. (Yes, I'm asking a lot). There's many brilliant people writing high quality content online, but's too diluted, hidden, forgotten, invisible, lost. Sometimes browsing feels like changing channels on a tv. I feel trapped in a rotten loop. I need a search engine that will rock my world. Show me the real stuff - I know it's there. Rant over.

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@kvhdude 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

(circa 2012) i bootstrapped a company that connects people searching for information to providers of said information in a real time chatroom created for the duration of the query. This is to solve pogo sticking when the website information is too dense (say search for quitclaim deed without knowing too much about it). I failed to get enough users on both sides ('two sided market'). I am not from search/web space - my expertise is in building routers/switches in the 90s. I extended xmpp so that you could query from any chat box that can interwork with xmpp.

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@StreamBright 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Or high quality translations. It is actually really funny how broken translations Google translate produce.

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@short12 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

They wll show you 49 YouTube results though facepalm

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@busymom0 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I have observed this for the past 3 years now. For example if I search for "reddit best soup pots" and set the date filter to be within last year, it gives me results which are 7 to 9 years old. This used to work perfectly fine 3 years ago.

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@amarento 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

helllloooo ... does anyone from Google Search engineering, product management, and/or leadership have any comments on this ... if this is true, at this rate Google Search, the foundation of the whole Google / Alphabet enterprise, faces the existential threat of becoming irrelevant in the world of search

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@aronpye 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

How are these sites created? Are they hand crafted or automatically generated with something like GPT?

From what I’ve seen, a lot of them just seem to copy-paste content from each other and sites like stack-overflow. I’m just curious whether a human does this or a machine programmed to game SEO.

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@gremlinsinc 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Ironically, I think reddit's search sucks, but the knowledge of reddit is pretty decent, so searching google and adding reddit gets some of the better recommendations... at least you skip the shitty ad sites.

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@jeffybefffy519 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Based on number of search engines appearing on HN recently I suspect disruption is around the corner.

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@jlarocco 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I'm surprised anybody needs a random guy on Twitter to tell them this...

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@Shorel 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

This is true.

But, the important issue is that no one else is producing high quality search results either.

When this changes, Google can kiss his profitable search engine goodbye. But this is not an easy engineering challenge.

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@yashap 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Yeah, the results are absolute SEO garbage far too frequently. However, I'm not sure if this is Google "losing" to SEO ppl, or short-sighted greedy behaviour by Google ads ppl. It certainly could be the greedy case - SEO garbage pages tend to be packed full of Google Display ads, so Google gets paid by advertisers whenever you load them. If they are favouring pages with Google Display ads (or favouring domains that spend a lot of Google Search ads in "organic" results), then that'd hurt the results a lot.

Example of terrible SEO results - I saw an interesting magic trick on Reddit, and someone in the comments mentioned they did it using "Key BDM Scissors". I tried searching all sorts of different things along the lines of "how do Key BDM Scissors work", but literally every single result was just online stores selling the scissors, with the word-for-word exact same blurb on each page. No matter how I tweaked the query, the results were identical, and in no way explained how the trick scissors worked. Useless.

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@ssiddharth 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I apologise, profusely, if this is bad form to talk about a personal app.

After years of getting steadily deterioring quality search results, and being thoroughly fed up with it, I built an iPhone app (other platforms soon) that removes spammy websites from your Google search results and lets you add your personal, permanent exclusions. Launched it to Reddit which seemed to love the idea: https://searchban.com

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@flenserboy 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

This has been true for over a decade. What's changed is how obviously awful the results are.

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@mrdrozdov 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I don't believe this (yet) and here's why.

The claim is that Google search is producing worse results than in the past. The analysis is mostly anecdotal, and similar claims have been made before in a more concrete way. A prime example is "time to cook onions" giving incorrect results, covered in this slate article: https://slate.com/human-interest/2012/05/how-to-cook-onions-...

What we need is to see is specific queries, the results returned, why they're wrong, and what they should be instead.

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@freeflight 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

This has bothered me for a while now, even DDG is getting increasingly less useful.

Google works if I want to buy something, that's about it. But finding any kind of news or actual information, particularly about incidents in the past, often feels impossible past some Wikipedia article.

At least until narrowing down the date range for the search to escape most of that SEO that just adds whatever you search to make it top of the list.

But even then, on certain topics going back years sometimes yields very weird results, where it feels like there was some kind of purge that only left certain outlets as "valid sources".

Which in practice means the web has become very good at forgetting, as often it's near impossible to rediscover the article for some headline from a decade ago, it's just drowned out by all the SEO if it never made any big waves to begin with.

Wide as an ocean, deep as a puddle, that's what a lot of these results often seem to boil down to, and it's bluntly depressing.

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@lettergram 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Interestingly enough, I've been frustrated by this for years

https://austingwalters.com/is-search-solved/

I used to manage hnprofile.com which utilized a patent I wrote to target this exact problem. Effectively, Google optimizes for ads (as pointed out) and optimizes to ensure you have to click multiple links. In reality, we want to answer peoples question(s) right off the bat, i.e. no ads.

How do you make money then?

Well, that's why I created this: https://insideropinion.com (or https://metacortex.me/)

I think the only way to make profit off of it is by targeting corporations, where their revenue comes from maximizing productivity. I think it's possible to create a paid service ($5/month) for good search, but you'd still likely have to target companies.

At least that's the best I could come up with.

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@dpweb 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

G could just offer an ad free tier included with Google One or something.

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@mark_l_watson 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I agree that Google search is much less relevant to me than it was > 10 years ago. I love some Google products (GCP, YouTube Music, Play books/movies, and paid for no advertisements YouTube) but search is no longer one of them.

That said, Google search works better for me if I use a private browser tab so the results don’t depend on search history. I find DDG to be useful. One good use case for Google search in the logged in mode is when I am searching for work related things that I might want to influence what I see in YouTube, but I could simply search in YouTube.

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@WesolyKubeczek 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

My two big beefs with the Google search results right now are these:

1) looks like low-quality linkfarms (like Taboola and that other one) have a big comeback, under the guise of higher-quality content, but Google doesn't give a fuck anymore since 2013 or so when they kept twiddling their algorithm to reduce all the SEO shit;

2) Google started using those low-quality linkfarms and listicles as sources for its "authoritative" onebox answers to your queries ("featured snippets", or "knowledge graph", or how they call it). You look for answers, you get those things front and center as if they are "the" answer. Don't look further. The so-called "deep web" seems no longer to be a thing.

Well, there's also this little problem that for some queries you can easily get a first page of results with one or two organic results and the rest being ads, but that's peanuts compared to the first two.

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@dilawar 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

For the last 6 months or so, I started maintaining bookmarks because of frustration with the search results. Occasionally, a useful search result is found on 2 or 3rd page.

I also installed https://iorate.github.io/ublacklist/ recently to block some annoying sites from results such as geeksforgeek polluting C++ related searches. I am uncertain if this is inevitable because I am increasing interested in higher-quality content, while most content on popular (SEO optimized?) sites is definitely not the best.

I am still happy with Google Scholar results, though I have no benchmark to compare against. ReserachGate?

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@beebeepka 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

No longer you say. That ship sailed more than a decade ago.

I can't know for sure why that is but I'd bet on accurate results not making as much money. It's been like a brochure for a long time

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@SMAAART 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

oh that's interesting.

let's all remember Clayton M. Christensen's lesson: a market can only d=be disrupted once it's overserved.

Guess search/google is due for disruption. DuckDuckGo is looking good, but maybe it's going to be a second-mover (second after DuckDuckGo).

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@hashtones 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Too bad page rank became the bastard child of SEO bots instead of the novel, mathematically innovative tool it was.

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@thebetrayer 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I noticed this too over the past couple of years. Google, Alphabet, and its shareholders don't care because they are still making so much money. I truly think it's by design to further ruin the state of the internet, just my opinion.

Has anyone else noticed how many important websites, such as news organizations, have Taboola or similar ads? Like it's the only way to make any money online. Sensationalized paginated joke content with ads on every page.

It's crazy how many websites are scrapping stackoverflow and getting on the first page of google results. Like, is it hard to check if identical content is on stackoverflow? lol it's not hard.

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@blondie9x 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Kind of scary when you realize there are only really two search engines in the most of the world. Google and Bing. Google and Microsoft. The world deserves more than this. DDG, Ecosia, Yahoo, etc are just Bing behind the scenes.

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@roody15 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Have to confirm. I find myself using yandex, (or sometimes https://www.gnod.com/search) to get better results. This was not the case 5 years ago... just my two cents but Google's search has declined from my point of view.

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@honkycat 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

A while ago I was doing research on guitar products.

I did what I usually do, open the first 6-7 websites in google, look at the quality of the website, and made a call which one looked the most reputable.

Only, here is the thing: All of the websites had different names. They had different domains. But, they were all very... similar. And then I started to compare them, and I came to a realization:

They are the same website, with the same content, with a different domain and slightly tweaked front-end. SEO has hit so rock-bottom, it is no longer good enough to be number one. You have to be number 1 - 10.

Similar story researching fishing equipment. Different domain. Same website. Same 10 products.

In both cases, I found a discord server and asked the enthusiasts on there for advice.

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@mrtksn 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I'm often critical of Google's recent product quality but how much of the blame is really on Google?

There are no longer "organic" content on the internet, everything is produced by professionals that are guided by analytics and optimisation.

The social media is searchable by it's vendor but the content there is also optimised for metrics that often don't align well with qualities like accuracy.

Only at places like HN or Reddit there's some organic content in form of commentary. HN is kind of special IMHO as its probably optimised for reach to a specific audience and pays for itself that way, therefore it can be optimised for quality through content moderation.

The web is well optimised for monetisation. Unless someone finds a way to optimize it for some other qualities, I don't think that Google or any competition can do anything about it.

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@NaturalPhallacy 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I ditched google (including my alphabet stock) a few years ago.

They're become so big and bloated they think they know better which is death to innovation.

DDG is my default search engine one every device and has been for ages.

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@kelnos 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

> Also, how can a search category be SEO’d into ruin? Isn’t search engine optimization supposed to produce “better results”?

No, SEO is supposed to get your particular website higher up in the rankings, regardless of whether or not the results are better for users.

"SEO" is just a nice marketing term for "figure out how the search engine works and trick it into listing your site higher". It's learning what metrics a search engine prioritizes, and then playing to those metrics.

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@Imnimo 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I recently tried to find some reviews for a computer I was considering purchasing. A "review" from this website was on the first page:

https://ecomputertips.com/

This is an example of what the reviews read like:

>As a desktop manufacturer Dell as an international company has established itself very well in this competitive market of digital gadgets. Check out best Dell desktop computers for specific requirements and beginner’s guide. In this 21st century, a computer has become a very necessary product to everybody’s day to day life.

This is what Google thinks is a front-page relevant search result.

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@markus_zhang 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Basically nowadays Google shows me Ads links on top, bunch of medium or content-grabber sites (think a website full of blogs from other blog sites).

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@londons_explore 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Is there good evidence that Google isn't doing a good job of finding content anymore, or that good content doesn't exist on the public internet anymore?

Google is only doing a bad job if what you're looking for exists but can't be found. I have a feeling that for many searches, what you're looking for simply doesn't exist anymore.

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@dreamcompiler 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

One thing that would help immensely is a programmatic API for search. That way anybody could write a program to contact a REST search server and get back 100 results, and then filter out sites that were on one's personal blacklist, and also check the remaining results to see that they did in fact contain the search terms requested.

If you try this with Google you'll immediately be captcha'd to hell and back. You can do it with a browser extension (and many of these exist) but you're always at the mercy of the browser maker (often Google itself) who can arbitrarily decide break your extension.

Programmatic access to the web was exactly the premise of the so-called "semantic web" from a few years back but it never caught on. We probably need a government-funded search spider and database that is mandated by law to allow REST access and which can never be commercialized. Of course any attempt to build such a thing would be lobbied into the ground by Google, but I can dream.

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@throwawayboise 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

And as long as Google is in the business of both search and advertising, that will not change.

They actually are not in the business of search, though -- at least not anymore. Search is just the hook to show the ads.

As long as the incentives are the way they are, things will not change and will get worse from a search quality perspective.

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@pugets 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google results change frequently, even when they shouldn’t. Searching for “shrimp recipes” gives me mostly food blog articles that are from the years 2020 or 2021. Why would I want recent recipes over tried and true recipes? Where did the good recipes from 2013 go?

Shrimp recipes may not be a “significant category” but this I think highlights one of Google’s search issues. It’s also how they make money. If there were no revolving door of promoted content, then how would today’s advertisers ever reach you? It’s a balancing act to maximize profits while minimizing damage, and they aren’t doing a good job with balancing.

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@nathias 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

are people really still using google in 2022?

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@nottorp 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Hmm I don't think SEO spam and fake reviews are Google's only problem. These have been useless for a long time, but I believe they're altering search results on purpose just to give you more crap to click on.

Random example: paste a stack trace in google, add, say, raspberry pi. First 5 pages of results will be beginner tutorials on how to set up something on your Pi. If you're lucky you'll get something related to your stack trace in the later results. Sometimes you don't get squat.

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@wmu 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

DuckDuckGo is also not good. Last week I switched to Bing and its results are surprisingly good.

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@throaway6942 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

for opinions like product reviews or entertainment I usually append my search query with 'reddit'

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@pastelsky 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

It's impossible to get accurate information about travel, hotels, locations. Results are often filled with listicle crap that each copy each other and contain outdated pop content.

I've become so used to suffixing these queries with "forum" or "reddit" to get articles written by real humans.

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@not2b 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Suppose a Google competitor emerged that produced wonderful results in every category. Within a week, tens of thousands of SEO specialists will be on the case, reverse-engineering the magic and figuring out how to get their crappy sites back to the top of the rankings. The wonderful results would quickly degrade, and it's unclear as to whether this new small company would have the resources to keep up.

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@scaredofgoogle 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

They have us - that is, the wider internet - (by the **s) so why would they do anything other than return the most profitable results?

Wouldn't you do the same thing? (don't forget to toss billion-dollar scraps to competitors, to head off monopoly restrictions).

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@neuronic 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I have recently researched a laundry machine. No chance - if you dont know where to ask or look you will be bombarded with fake marketing crap and affiliate cancer.

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@ra-mos 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Could the issues be less presumptuous about googles business, and more technical? E.g the incorporation of NLP model(s) in search that don’t perform well in the wild?

Curious about their query parsing as well. I can’t recall exact queries, but I had instances where scrambled typos (but still obvious words to me) broke the results all together & no suggested fixes.

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@thehappypm 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Easy to blame some “suit” but when the rubber meets the road, Googlers want their RSUs to be valuable maybe more than any other group. Zero incentive to put user experience first at any level of the organization.

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@ghoomketu 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

A thread like this happens every month now and the main point of discussion always comes to how companies like Pinterest, Quora, Stackoverflow clones, etc are openly gaming the search engine and making results shit (1)

I think first time I read this was like 5 years ago yet Google is doing absolutely nothing about it and these sites still dominate the results by gaming whatever metrics Google is using to rank them.

(1) https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...

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@belfalas 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

> The more I think about this, the more it looks like classic short term thinking. Juice ad revenue in the short run. Open the door to complete disruption in the long run…

This is the key insight from the thread. Publicly traded companies get pulled into the short term thinking cycle and this is the inevitable outcome.

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@deadalus 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Yandex is the best when it comes to reverse image search, it almost matches Pimeyes.

Bing is the best when it comes to video search.

Brave is great when searching for controversial or censored topics.

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@mettamage 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Question: what’s a better more qualitative alternative (search result-wise)?

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@ClumsyPilot 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I was wondering for a while if SEO has gotten so good, or its Google that's gone to this - and I have a feeling that it's the latter.

Search for COVID rules for entry to moldova - for me and my friends the official website was like page 10 of search. Search for various government services, and most of the time top result is some scam.

This is inexcusable - is is to hard to prioritise official government websites? They could hire two dudes per country to index them all by hand and they'd be done in a couple weeks.

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@fnord123 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Tip: add NHS or CDC to the end of any health search to get better results from the NHS or CDC instead of however many pages of grifter sites.

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@truculent 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Another problem with google search is that it's no longer something that you can become good at. Yes, the queries may have improved on some KPIs (although the link here would suggest otherwise), but you more or less get what you're given. It's very difficult to tweak your query to get better, or more specific, results.

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@Cwizard 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Something I have noticed lately is that when searching for technical information I often get result near the top of my search that are crappy skins of StackOverflow, usually with many more ads. Has anyone else noticed this too?

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@hn_throwaway_99 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I agree with this 100%, and could totally admit that I have a giant deficit of imagination, but I still have a huge problem imagining how a company could disrupt Google search at this point (unless that other company is Amazon, Microsoft or Apple, i.e. another company with gigantic resources).

The costs of setting up a comparable search engine these days must run in the multi-billions. The Internet is huge now, so your crawling and indexing costs would be giant. Not to mention that it can actually be hard to crawl many sites that attempt to restrict indexing to "the big boys" of Google, Bing and a couple others. Also, Google controls the primary on-ramp of Android and Chrome. They also control the primary ad networks that make running a search engine profitable.

I compare it to Microsoft. Nobody really ever "disrupted" Microsoft in the desktop OS space - they still have a greater than 75% market share. The thing that changed, of course, is that the "desktop operating space" as a category became much less important with the rise of mobile, and Microsoft famously lost that OS battle. So my point is that I find it hard to see Google being "disrupted" when it comes to the "Internet search market" - the only thing I really see being possible is if some other technology came along and superseded "Internet search" as a category.

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@throwaway4good 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Search doesn’t really that much anymore - not even to Google - their monopoly on advertisement brokerage does though …

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@Lamad123 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Sometimes I search a big chunk of lyrics from some fairly popular song that I hear in several radio stations and cannot find it... This wasn't the case a few years ago.

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@calltrak 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Here is a list of google search alternatives https://fabform.io/a/alternative-search-engines

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@JCWasmx86 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

SEO is so annoying, I recently searched "Is XYZ healthy?", then just some blogs/lifestyle magazines/whatever showed up, just written in an absolutely verbose manner. I would have expected Yes/No, not 4 paragraphs introduction, some about the advantages, some about the disadvantages and so on.

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@rchaves 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Yes it had been getting worse, but I think there is a limit to “find relevant results” anyway, Google is good for objective answers, but for more complex stuff, there is an more and more answers, the web nowadays is overwhelming

At some point it starts reaching personal preferences as well, and just tracking me like Google does is not good enough for those filters, not to mention privacy concerns

For example, many many times it happens that I read an awesome article about a subject, then weeks later I try to google it back to show to a friend, and I simply can’t find it, because there is a gazillion other articles about the same topic

That’s why I’m building a custom search engine, where you index whatever you want, your bookmarks, your Twitter likes, building your own brain’s search engine

Stay tuned!

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@tptacek 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google has never, ever produced high quality search results for medical questions. The jokes about this are about as stale as the ones about airline food.

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@ummonk 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I suspect these ad-ridden junk sites are optimizing more for Google than for Bing, as I tend to run into them more if I try to check Google's results instead of relying on Duck Duck Go.

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@eyelidlessness 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I almost always get better results from Bing, and while they’re not good they’re not obviously getting worse (barring ahem porn queries which Bing has consistently been better at and still is, you just frequently need to add “porn” to the query now).

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@dijonman2 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google and their shareholders are addicted to ad money. Personally speaking I think this is more harmful to society than cigarettes.

I hope we normalize this and start fighting back. Ads first destroyed youtube, google, and I’m sure a bunch of other products I am not thinking about.

Enough is enough, and we need to decouple morality from content and edge back to the anti censorship wild west mentality the internet championed for so long.

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@whatgoodisaroad 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

To what extent is this a supply side problem? What's the counterexample high quality health website that Google should have included?

Part of the problem is surely how Google's ad model influences the success or failure of various kinds of websites, but a deeper problem seems to me how anybody qualified to share medical information freely would be acting against their own interest.

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@pimterry 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I switched from Google to https://kagi.com recently, I've found them a significant improvement in search result quality so far!

Right now they're free with a waiting list, but the long-term plan is to charge for access - I'm personally hopeful that that's a business model far less likely to incentivize results quality, without falling into this ad trap.

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@cmurf 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Not news, it's been getting shitty for awhile to the point most of my searching uses "" to force those keywords to show up. And now I'm regularly getting results in which the page doesn't contain required keywords. Super aggravating.

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@stoundmire 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

It's been bothering me for a while. Whenever I search anything programming related, low quality websites (like w3schools and geeksforgeeks) always rank on top. I have to write a script that attach

> -site:w3schools.com -site:geeksforgeeks.org -site:programiz.com -site:realpython.com -site:tutorialspoint.com

to every search I make, in order to avoid all these BS and get to the official sites.

But bad news is, that list keeps growing and it's impossible to filter out every single one of them.

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@AviationAtom 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

uBlock Origin is a must when clicking on some first page Google results how, as well as a good pause and study of the results. The unscrupulous ad baiters have gotten real good at Google SEO and content scraping. I'd guess they do well for themselves, as the practice has picked up significantly in recent times. It reminds me of part of the reason Google stole Yahoo's marketshare so rapidly: if you deliver useless results too often then it's a waste of my time to use you. Perhaps the time has come for a new breed of search engine, to disrupt the search engine game, which it seems Google shifted their focus from long ago.

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@stevenally 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Time for Noogle - a brand new search engine. Some money to be made there…

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@Freskis 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Can I defend Google here?

What are they supposed to do? The "Internet" as an information resource is dead. All new topical information has moved to walled gardens such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Discord, Reddit etc, and mobile apps. The open websites such as Wikipedia, StackOverflow etc dominate everything else. Websites are legacy objects which no-one visits anymore, and they have therefore raced to the bottom to earn scraps of revenue. This is a structural problem that Google cannot fix. Google itself is doomed on the long-term unless it can index new relevant content.

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@gremlinsinc 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

This is actually one place I think blockchain could make sense...

Use people's servers as a sort of botnet to process search results, the more you process the more you earn, you'd need maybe storage nodes for indexes, processing nodes for ai/ml categorization of results, and then maybe people can also earn coinage for ranking results they do get, and that way the shitty sites could be more likely filtered out.

To advertise, costs coins which allows advertisers to basically buy ads not from the SE itself but from users via a marketplace.

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@randomperson_24 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I think the problem is that we all expect to get perfect results. We want automated systems to identify and remove unimportant useless things. But how will those systems get to know that?

We can't build another AI black box to try and do that. There is a option in search to report spam or improve search results.

Out of our laziness and expecting getting everything perfect, sometimes collectively working and reporting bad content-copying websites, etc. would be collectively useful for all.

Search had gotten so good that we probably expected to get perfect results everytime. Untill bad guys started to game it. I beleive it's more of cat and mouse game, and where all users collectively should help and mark as spam.

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@hosteur 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I would love a search engine that penalizes monetized content. Content with affiliate links or ads etc.

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@apatheticonion 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Can we also talk about the dumpster fire that is YouTube?

I look up anything news related and the entire first few pages are Foxx/Murdoch and whatever other batsh*t content I don't want to see.

I cannot block channels from my search results and I have hardly any control of the content I see. I can't organise subscriptions by folder, I am inundated by "YouTube shorts".

Worst of all, I have a legacy YouTube account with a failed "gaia migration" that I cannot delete because the migration somehow failed and I can't access the content. I have tried contacting their support staff and they told me they couldn't help. It's been 6 years and they haven't been able to do anything about it.

Amazon, Microsoft, Apple - please make a competition service to YouTube focused on the viewer's experience.

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@mwaitjmp 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Searching for content which you know is on GitHub is the biggest issue for me. Now rather than returning results for code from GitHub, you instead get results from sites which copy content from GitHub.

It’s actually useful they perform this or else some of that content would never appear in Google’s search results.

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@mybrid 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Yahoo is the same as it always was, but these days it produces better results than Google.

Bing is okay but getting worse over time.

Google image search is the worst. Bing is marginal but at least useful.

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@ncpa-cpl 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Then there's websites like Scribd, SlideShare, and pdf hosting websites which require accounts or subscriptions have hijacked many results. This has happened even if the original pdfs are still at the source.

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@z0xz0xz0x 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

He wonders what a paid version of Google search would look like. I don't think most people would be able to afford such a service and it'd be reserved mostly for people with lots of disposable income. However at that point, you're losing your most valuable ad clicks. From what I understand a single click on a Crypto.com ad can cost $40-$60 dollars. I don't see it being a sustainable subscription model.

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@mkl95 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google have found a sweet spot where their search results are almost correct but still insufficient.

That "near-correctness" ensures you don't lose hope of finding what you are looking for, so you keep reading result after result. And most of those sites are conveniently loaded with ads, sold by guess which company - Google!

Eventually, pagerank cashes out, and you find what you are looking for. You receive a much needed endorphin kick, and you go on with your day. Rinse and repeat.

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@hintymad 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I grew up with the amazing stories about Google engineers, and I wish Google will not repeat the history of companies declining gradually then collapsing suddenly, as it is such a revolutionary company not just for its product but also for its amazing contribution to the technology. The sad thing is that I'm seeing more and more cracks in this great company.

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@zmmmmm 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Is there some special significance to this individual? There doesn't seem to anything more to this than their personal anecdotal experience and opinion.

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@rdlecler1 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Since 2013 we’ve been publishing AgFunderNews as the site of record for investment and entrepreneurship in foodtech and agtech. For whatever reason we were never able to get into Google News but other were who write summary articles on the articles we publish. Similarly, Google will defer to a site like Forbes which has no real authority in our space. It’s really really bad. There is good info out there but increasingly Google is not able to surface it.

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@whiddershins 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

A challenge I see for anyone trying to disrupt this space is that in principle Google could fix this at any moment.

So a startup would still need some secret sauce, otherwise they might gain a toehold just to get absolutely wrecked by Google tweaking their algorithms a small amount and regaining dominance.

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@nutate 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google search is shot. They need to revert the jillion microservices to pre-covid versions and just let go of whatever they've done. The changes have surely increased some key performance indicators but they've also made their service look like its always April 1st.

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@neets 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I am going to go out on a whim and say that I think this is intentional. There are a lot of power games being played these days. I am reminded of this quote from Chomsky,

"There are huge efforts that do go into making people, to borrow Adam Smith’s phrase, “as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be.” A lot of the educational system is designed for that, if you think about it, it’s designed for obedience and passivity. From childhood, a lot of it is designed to prevent people from being independent and creative. If you’re independent-minded in school, you’re probably going to get into trouble very early on. That’s not the trait that’s being preferred or cultivated." [1]

Google is how the masses are "educated" these days. There is also the narrative of how students, high school, university, and collage are just googling everything for their tests and exams and not learning everything. (I am one of them)

I am sure SEO spam is part of the problem but there are always multiple narratives going on.

[1] https://chomsky.info/warfare02/

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@99_00 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

On the one hand, I'm sad that other people are realizing this because it means they can fix make some better before I can.

On the other hand I probably don't have the ability to make something better so it's good that someone will come up with a solution I can use.

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@dimgl 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I'm having issues with Google lately too. Every time I look up some piece of code because I want to view documentation related to it, all I get are these example websites that crawl open source pages and index them with SEO optimized queries. Something like hotexamples.com and garbage like that. All of the sudden they're #1 on Google and provide little to no value. It used to be all of the #1 pages were stackoverflow.com or Reddit and the like, which always had really good discussions on these snippets of code.

Edit: in fact, it's gotten so bad that I've stopped using Google for search results and now I go directly to Reddit or Stack Overflow and do my searches there. Which is UNREAL. I don't mind it, but I can't believe how bad it's gotten.

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@uejfiweun 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Certainly Google Images has taken a major dip in quality. I am unable to find images that I could even find a few months ago, and the number of results is shrinking for identical queries. On top of that, they are rolling out an absolutely HORRIBLE interface for image search on mobile.

Google is just in "big company" mode where the company is just so vast that it is nearly impossible to guarantee a consistent product quality. It will continue to offer good salaries and nice perks, but the innovation has stopped, and the company is doomed to inevitably slowly stagnate and fail.

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@j45 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google is likely inclined to return higher quality ad results, than high quality search results.

Clicking on one makes them money, the other does not.

Look at the percentage of the initial search result screen that is devoted to ads vs organic results.

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@thedailymail 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

"Currently, the predominant business model for commercial search engines is advertising. The goals of the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users. For example, in our prototype search engine one of the top results for cellular phone is "The Effect of Cellular Phone Use Upon Driver Attention", a study which explains in great detail the distractions and risk associated with conversing on a cell phone while driving. This search result came up first because of its high importance as judged by the PageRank algorithm, an approximation of citation importance on the web [Page, 98]. It is clear that a search engine which was taking money for showing cellular phone ads would have difficulty justifying the page that our system returned to its paying advertisers. For this type of reason and historical experience with other media [Bagdikian 83], we expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers."

The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine, Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page. http://infolab.stanford.edu/pub/papers/google.pdf

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@causi 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google is now regularly ignoring search constraints like the - operator to remove results containing a term and "" marks to only give results with a certain term. This is quite infuriating when you're searching for something that sounds like something much more common but isn't.

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@inasio 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Sure, google is bad, but it's 2022 and searching for shows in Amazon Prime is ridiculously bad. Just yesterday I searched for "Adams family" knowing that they had a movie called "Adams family 2", and it just didn't show in the search results at all, lots of pretty unrelated movies. I had to specifically "search" for the exact movie title.

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@tester756 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

how do you people remember the quality of Google years ago?

If somebody asked me whether Google's quality was/better 10 5 3 2 years ago then I'd have no idea despite using it daily shitton of times

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@commandlinefan 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

> I’m pretty sure the engineers responsible for Google Search

I have the distinct impression that engineers haven't been responsible for Google Search for a long, long time, having been supplanted by biased activists.

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@Volker_W 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Maybe there is a lot of anti-Google lies in this comment section.

I could not reproduce their problems when I googled the same string.

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@cainxinth 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Has anyone else noticed that Google’s image search, but the standard one and the visual search, have decreased in quality in the last few months? I’ve switched to Bing for images.

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@api 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Spam won the web just like it won everywhere else. Any open system will be destroyed by spam.

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@nunodonato 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I'm building a new kind of search engine. Would love if some of you could provide me with some difficult search queries that target very specific content.

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@u2077 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I’ve noticed they started to limit search length, my search was too long and they removed small words like “of” and “the. I also saw a message somewhere along the lines of “to show you the best quality results, we limited this search to two pages”

Google is only good for finding stuff you already know exists. What ever happened to exploring the web?

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@yawaworht1978 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I agree, the results are too heavily influenced by domains like reddit, Pinterest, Quora.

The next thing I have realized, if I am looking for something about a topic or a person and there are current events heavily in the media on the person or the issue, it's almost impossible to get something useful or even related.

Stack overflow results are sometimes replaced by less useful GitHub links.

Then , job search results are pretty bad too , same for shopping items.

It seems like media outlets and the big traffic domains get preferential treatment.

And this is just for English, God knows how bad this will be in other languages.

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@turrini 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

For better search results, I always use google in verbatim mode coupled with this TamperMonkey script to block scrappers and other stuff:

https://greasyfork.org/en/scripts/1682-google-hit-hider-by-d...

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@h0nd 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I tried to google "Mass formation psychosis" yesterday. Guess what happened.

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@haldujai 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I mean isn’t the issue at hand a by product of how massive the internet is now and Google’s relative impartiality?

In a truly inclusive and expansive index isn’t it a bit of cat and mouse with SEO? Presumably the only way to get rid of them would be for Google to basically start curating the web. It’s an interesting thought but a bit unsettling at first. A secondary/premium product line or competitor seems more palatable.

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@forgingahead 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I want a good search engine for searching internet "chatter" - basically forums, comment sections, etc. I know we have FB, Reddit, Twitter, and so on, but these are all centralised platforms with centralised censorship when the "wrong" comments are made, or the preferred comments are intended to be surfaced/stickied.

It's frustrating to me that I almost never get forum results from Google any more. DuckDuckGo/Bing has been much better in that regard.

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@visarga 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google, why are you slacking off search and also the Google Assistant? It feels like a rerun of the 2003-2010 period in Microsoft.

Web search is getting worse, people complain, problems persist. I thought your mission was to organise the information and make it useful.

And the Assistant is just as dumb as years ago, while NLP has been progressing leaps and bounds in the last 2-3 years. Where's the progress? Are you aware speech is going to dominate direct web search?

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@14 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Any time I search how to repair X on my car I get 10 sites of places selling the part but none of the forums discussing how to do the repair. Back in the day it was not like this. Very sad and I have now learned to basically ignore the first set of results and scroll past them.

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@emptybottle 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

If you haven't switched your default search to duck duck go yet I highly recommend doing so.

As a user of DDG for years now rarely does searching with !g give better results.

At this point its the opposite. The DDG first page results aren’t all ads above the fold.

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@Gareth321 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

This makes me optimistic. Why? For the longest time, Google has had a monopoly on internet search. This is unhealthy for the entire internet. Google's declining quality opens a rather large door for competition, and I see really promising alternatives such as DuckDuckGo.

Perhaps this is simply an example of the business life cycle in action. Eventually all businesses crush themselves under their own weight and greed.

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@csours 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Web search is an adversarial context. Just try to list the things a search engine provider has to fight against, then try to define some criteria for each of those things that more than 50% of the population will agree upon.

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@laboratorymice 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I vaguely recall reading that Google uses time spent on a page/domain as an indicator of the relevance or quality of the search result/content, but I just googled to try to find that source and only found articles stating the opposite [^1],[^2]. Does anyone know if it is indeed used, and if so, why does it not work to demote low-quality SEO-abusing sites? [^1]: https://www.nichepursuits.com/how-important-is-time-on-site-... [^2]: https://ahrefs.com/blog/dwell-time/

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@a_square_peg 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I wonder how much of this is due to Google or that the rest of the web (the crappy parts at least) has figured out the algorithm sufficiently to degrade its performance overall?

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@pcdoodle 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

It really has been broken. I used to be "the guy" that would find anything.

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@albertopv 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

When looking for gift I go straight to Amazon. For travel booking.com, for info is wikipedia and so on. I basically avoid google as much as possible.

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@r0m4n0 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I’m slightly biased (as a googler) but why is this person’s tweet newsworthy? It doesn’t really contain any revelations or specific examples

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@throwawaysea 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

It’s not just about high quality search results. It is also about wanton manipulation of societal narratives, which ultimately is manipulation of elections. For example, YouTube recently started taking down videos of Joe Rogan’s interview of Dr. Robert Malone. One of the concepts Malone brought up is ‘mass formation psychosis’, which has resulted in many people searching for that phrase. Google has a dystopian message at the top of their search results that suggests they are manipulating the search results or in the least using such messages to undermine the legitimacy of certain content (https://twitter.com/JackPosobiec/status/1477403661701689352). This is not how a search indexer should be operating and it is not the basis for open societies where you can freely exchange ideas on an even playing field.

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@cracker_jacks 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Can someone provide some explicit search queries so we can see the bad examples? Lots of criticism is being doled out in that thread without an actual example to see for myself.

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@littlecranky67 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Just researched good/quality crafting printers yesterday. Search results were mostly blogs and crappy websites that offered obviously no insights but were just SEO optimized to direct you to their Amazon affiliate links. Especially sad since those affiliate links to Amazon mostly resulted in "This product is currently not available" sites.

Repeated my search on Youtube to find reviews or unboxing. Most video search results were basically "Youtube SEO" again - the most viewed/top-ranked videos did never show a single actual print run or even the printer available. It was mostly marketing websites turned into video (slowly scrolling/moving over product description or pictures clearly taken from the web). And of course, affiliate links in the description.

The web has become a crappy place to research products as long as money can be made with those through affiliations. I wonder if outlawing affiliate marketing would make the world a better place.

P.S: Whats most ridiculous about my Youtube Printer research experience, the best and most helpful video was a sales video from a home shopping TV station [0], where they actually showed some printing action and handling of one of the models I was interested in.

[0]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytMXgjCReO0

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@psyc 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I began to notice some time ago that Google basically disregards my query, and fixates on the lowest common denominator. So, recently I was trying to search for a particular event or quote or something related to some famous person. But no matter how I worded the query, Google ignored everything but the person's name, and returned only fluffy flattering results about the person from popular magazine sites.

So I tried Bing, and the thing I was looking for was result #1. Like how it used to be with Google. So I switched to Bing.

Now after a few weeks of that, I see that Bing does the exact same thing much of the time. Totally different queries + same general subject = identical top ten results.

So. Anyone fancy creating the 2022 version of what Google was in 1998?

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@rickdeveloper 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I actually created "my own search engine" because of this: notrashsearch.github.io.

It uses Google search tech under the hood (which I've found superior to other search engines), but filters results with a white list. It's only ~100 sites long & very focussed on STEM, but the results are surprisingly good.

If anyone has suggestions for site to add, please let me know!

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@paulcole 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

It feels like I’m the only one who gets consistently excellent results from Google search (and it feels like they’ve gotten better for me over time)? Maybe it’s because most of my searches are basic and lowest common denominator? I just don’t need obscure information most of the time and when I do it’s honestly still not that hard to find it.

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@rawoke083600 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

I think many queries to google includes the term "reddit" i know me and my mates all do this a lot more than 5 years ago. The value of 'reddit results' are of course that is mostly real humans (yes not always) providing data and content for a variety of topics.

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@bin_bash 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

What are people's impressions of Neeva? I just registered and a few searches seem equivalent to Google but it's a lot faster and cleaner.

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@ohmanjjj 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google is no longer a search engine. It’s a propaganda tool funded by ads and run under the guise of providing results to search queries.

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@tome 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

All search engines lack a feature that would make them hugely more useful: disambiguation. Suppose I search a common name "John Doe". I should next be presented with a disambiguation page allowing me to select whether I meant "John Doe who was President of Calexico 1905-1909", "John Doe who won the World Series with the Greensocks 1975" or "John Doe professor of Spanish Technicalities at Idaho Institute of Science". It shouldn't be my job to disambiguate my query. The search engine knows much more about the total search space than I do!

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@Transisto 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

At least 3 times in the last week I've noticed that trying to search for information that is not the government narrative about covid vaccine leads to the crappiest piece of garbage having an attempt at discrediting whatever I'm searching on.

Google / YouTube suggestion engine is now evil and corrupt to the bone.

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@rmason 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

PG did a tweet stream on Google's vulnerability and how a startup might attack it.

https://twitter.com/paulg/status/1477760548787920901

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@99_00 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Not just search. I subscribed to a print news paper.

I enjoy reading the news again. Good mix of local, financial, entertainment, international, human interest.

I'm exposed to things outside my bubble and I often like them.

The print edition excludes a lot ofnlow quality content because its limited space.

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@thunkshift1 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Isnt that the yc guy? This seems to me like a call for entrepreneurial people to come up with google alternatives just so that YC can dip their fingers in it while doing jack.

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@zelon88 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

You mean to tell me that when you use Google design paradigms, to implement Google promoted "best practices" in a way that scores highly on Googles own test suite and build it on Google promoted Javascript-by-the-pound libraries and then strap it with Google analytics and ads, promote it with Google ads, and then host it on Google cloud platform that you're actually building a dirtier, shittier web?

Well paint me surprised.

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@de6u99er 6 months

Replying to @lando2319 🎙

Google search results are actually horrible. My partner and me were searcbing today for the annual budged of public media in Poland. A couple of years ago the top result would have been the correct answer. Today we only got crap and gave up after 5 pages (sear result pages) clicking through ad infested links.

Two days ago I searched for a mission description of a game because my partner was talking to me and I only got half of the mission description. Top results were sites which copy headlines from forums and display tons of advertisements. This made me furious and I wouldn't be surprised if Google is by design ranking search results from certain categories based on advertisement real estate. The more Google-ads the more prominent the search result.

I make Pichai responsible for all the spam. He is, in my opinion, actually an idiot who doesn't understand that his strategy will be the downfall of Google as THE search engine. I really miss Page and Brin and their "Don't Be Evil" culture.

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