EditorialGuy - 2:48 pm on Jul 4, 2013 (gmt 0)
Do you have a better explanation for why Google's search results have deteriorated so badly over the past few years?
I can think of two possible reasons:
1) After spending years on trying to get their algorithm right, they introduced Panda, which knocked them back a dozen spaces on the game board. (Google were willing to accept that as the price of having a more robust algorithm in the long term.)
2) There are a lot more pages to be crawled, sifted, and sorted than there were a few years ago. In an era when anyone can churn out sites with huge numbers of autogenerated, keyword-driven pages, it's a wonder that the search results aren't even worse than they are.
The search engine may or may not come up with the best site; they're clueless about who's got the best deals.
Or the best selection, or the best customer service, or the lowest shipping costs. Why is Google "clueless" about such things? Because Google Search is (and always has been) about Web content, not about the businesses or people who create the Web content. If you want your online store to be visible in Google Search, you have two choices: (a) Buy advertising, or (b) Invest money in creating content that's of intrinsic value to the user.
Google are delivering what will satisfy the majority of searchers and not the most accurate, practical or relevant information.
If that were true, why would Martinibuster be flooded with sell pages when he's doing longtail searches on fishing topics? (For what it's worth, I've had the same experience with many queries: Google defaults to e-commerce results for many informational searches, and i doubt if, say, the average person searching for information about a cruise ship or a digital camera is interested in seeing a slew of boilerplate sell pages on the first page of the search results. IMHO, Google could save itself and users a lot of frustration by turning the dial down on commerce and up on information. After all, isn't Google's mission to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible"?)
This notion that Google is trying to satisfy a "majority" of searchers brings up a point that needs mentioning: There is no "majority" of searchers. Some people like to look things up, while other people like to ask questions. Some people like to read in-depth information and analysis, while others prefer Cliff's Notes and Top 10 lists. Some people buy a car because a friend recommended it, and others choose a car after reading reviews in Car & Driver or Consumer Reports. Google will never be able to satisfy a "majority" of searchers by targeting a minority or even a plurality of searchers, which means that Google needs to do a better job of personalization (e.g., by determining that John Doe prefers the type of content in The New York Times while his cousin Bill prefers the type of content in an L.L. Bean catalog) or by letting users set defaults for search (e.g., an emphasis on informational or transactional, in-depth text vs. quick-read text, and so on).