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Is search dead?
superclown2




msg:4636584
 9:14 pm on Jan 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

Over the holidays I went to a formal dinner attended by high net worth people of all age ranges but invariable the 'movers and shakers' of UK business. Without any input from me the subject of Google came up and the overwhelming consensus of the 20 people on our table was that searching for anything on Google was a complete waste of time because the results were generally poor or even irrelevant.

However; when I asked them why they didn't use Bing half of them claimed that they had never even heard of them. The rest of them stated that Google was still the only 'search engine' worth going to even though their results were so poor. I asked if they'd tried Bing and every one answered in the negative.

I would like to say that this was a one-off but it wasn't, I've heard the same tale over and over again for the past year or so.

So: are people now apathetic about search?
Is the internet dumbing down?
Have Google read this trend perfectly?
Or do the other search engines need to find better advertising agencies?

 

tbear




msg:4636609
 11:04 pm on Jan 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

You could be onto something.
Google, the answer to the WWW's dreams, with the help of advertising, seems to have broken it......... well, except for themselves.

What a wonderful new world it was..... :(

GoNC




msg:4636625
 1:32 am on Jan 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

I think that:

1. Yes, people are now apathetic;

2. Yes, the internet is dumbing down; and

3. Yes, other search engines need to advertise better.

I am constantly shocked and amazed at how the next generation treats the internet. I was around when it first went commercial, and we were amazed at the intellectual potential! ANYTHING you wanted to know was at your fingertips. I would sit by the computer, all night long, just looking up random stupid crap.

It's not like that today, by any stretch of the imagination. There are fewer and fewer personal websites, and more and more and more e-commerce. You can find facts easily enough, but opinions are a bit more rare.

Worse, I tried to show my 16 year old niece how to set up a Gmail account. Her first question? "Who do I know on there?" The poor thing had no clue what email was, and couldn't grasp the value of it.

In 10 years, I think we'll be shocked (and appalled) at how the internet will have changed.

JMO

martinibuster




msg:4636640
 2:07 am on Jan 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

...searching for anything on Google was a complete waste of time...


I was hoping you would share what their solution was. What kinds of things were they searching for that they couldn't find on Google and how did they end up finding it outside of Google? Did they go to Wikipedia? Did they ask a friend? Facebook/Twitter?

Or was their solution to keep "wasting their time" searching on Google?

onlineleben




msg:4636652
 8:34 am on Jan 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

... do the other search engines need to find better advertising agencies?

The Branding of Google was perfect. A short and snappy Name for a site that gave pople what they wanted. Not more, not less. And even an explanation where the name originated from. Clever.
Their market domination (search, various tools, gmail, Android smartphones) made People now say "Google it" when actually meaning just searching it on the web. Never heard anyone say "Bing it".
I bing it quite often now as my new Laptop has it pre-installed. Would love to have something like a "Bingalytics" to have an alternative analytics tool as well :)

lucy24




msg:4636659
 10:37 am on Jan 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

Would love to have something like a "Bingalytics" to have an alternative analytics tool as well

piwik

Samizdata




msg:4636661
 12:19 pm on Jan 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

the 'movers and shakers' of UK business

They employ other people to do their Googling for them.

As they do for other menial tasks (e.g. cooking, cleaning, driving).

They should not be considered representative of humanity.

...

robzilla




msg:4636673
 12:46 pm on Jan 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

If Google's results were, in fact, "generally poor or even irrelevant", I would stop using them, providing there is a better alternative. The truth is: there's not. If Bing was indeed a better search engine, then all that money spent on marketing would have paid off by now. Obviously it hasn't, and that reinforces my personal experience that it's just not a better alternative. I'm quite happy with Google's search results. Admittedly, I'm an above-average searcher, and I do see people struggle to come up with appropriate queries. The way I see it, that's the bigger problem. People don't know how to search, and for search engines that's an incredibly difficult problem to overcome.

Would love to have something like a "Bingalytics" to have an alternative analytics tool as well :)

That reads more like general anti-Google sentiment than a problem with their search engine.

onlineleben




msg:4636706
 5:02 pm on Jan 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

That reads more like general anti-Google sentiment than a problem with their search engine.

No, not really. Similar to you I am able to find what I am looking for on G (I am used to search since mid 90s), but I also use other searchengines. G has some Advantages as it brings me about 80% of my search-visits (which is about 50% of total).
What I don't like is to put all eggs into one basket.

Lucy, thanks for telling me about piwik - will check it out.

superclown2




msg:4636729
 7:27 pm on Jan 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

I was hoping you would share what their solution was. What kinds of things were they searching for that they couldn't find on Google and how did they end up finding it outside of Google? Did they go to Wikipedia? Did they ask a friend? Facebook/Twitter?


Trade directories were the favourite solution. The main complaints against Google were an inability to find out any actual information about products they were interested in but more importantly they had problems finding the actual manufacturers of these products. One guy was most indignant about being reduced to ringing the companies that were featured in the SERPs to ask them only to be met by the usual 'please hold, your call is important to us' and clueless call centre staff who couldn't deviate from a script <BWG>

They should not be considered representative of humanity.


I wouldn't try telling them that if I were you.

Samizdata




msg:4636741
 8:06 pm on Jan 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't try telling them that if I were you

Why not? By definition they are not like everyone else.

If they can't use a search engine effectively then someone will point and laugh.

Only their employees - the ones who actually do the work - need fear them.

...

martinibuster




msg:4636754
 10:02 pm on Jan 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

If they can't use a search engine effectively...


Please take a moment to read superclowns response to my question. It says that the people were able to find what they're looking for in trade directories. It's not that they can't use Google effectively. It's that Google is ineffective for the kinds of searches these people were using.

Their wealth is besides the point. The problem is with Google. I understand what they mean because I have the same problem, too.

One of my hobbies is an Asian style of fly angling. Google around a bit and you'll get the same set of sites, then page after page of spam. Google hits a wall. Head over to a site like the Rakuten Global Market or the equivalent Alibaba site and I can spend hours and hours finding all kinds of cool stuff related to this hobby. I can also visit various blogs related to this kind of fishing and they'll list links to Chinese and Japanese blogs on the topic. I found many cool sites about this topic by hopping from site to site. Not on Google.

Before you say that it's probably because it's an Asian thing, it's not an Asian thing. It's a global hobby, popular in the UK, Canada, and continental Europe. Furthermore the same thing applies to fly fishing. I find more stuff hopping from site to site via blogrolls and link pages than I do Googling for particular fishing flies. Hopping from site to site. Imagine that? It's not because I'm old. It's because Google is no good for discovery. I think for other terms Google is not that good because there simply isn't enough data for them to crawl, or else they exclude the sites of interest.

Here are examples. Hopping from site to site I discovered that a famous fly tyer has a site that sells amazingly cool fishing flies. I got a couple dozen over the holidays and I was over moon by them. There are two fly tyers in Pennsylvania who sell flies online, who used to work with Fran Betters, a legendary fly tying master. These two guys tie amazing flies, they're works of art, beautiful to admire and perhaps too nice to fish with. Found them hopping from link to link. Not with Google.

Please, that's not a criticism of Google. Google is not a discovery engine. Google is a search engine. What it can do is amazing and fantastic. Google is so useful it's uncanny and wonderful. However there are limits and I don't know if it's me or Google but for the past couple years I have been feeling limited when searching. There is more out there that Google is not showing. I know, because I found it by link hopping.

GoNC




msg:4636755
 10:09 pm on Jan 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

G has some Advantages as it brings me about 80% of my search-visits (which is about 50% of total).


Interesting point there. Looking at one of my sites on Analytics, last month we had 413,671 visitors. Google was the top referrer, with 133,659. Next in line was Bing, with a mere 26,070.

But, it's worth noting that about 60,000 of those 133,000 visits were from people that searched for the exact website name; implying, of course, that they left off the .com or something. So even though the number is high, it could be due to the default search in Chrome being with the address bar.

The wide majority of our traffic came directly to us, with no search engine involved.

Funny enough, all I hear about in the news is the value of Facebook, but they sent a whopping 1,191 visitors my way. I get more from Ask.com than I get from Facebook!

Based on that, when you consider that around 18-33% of my traffic comes from Google (depending on whether you include website name queries), the answer to the original question is a definite, no, search is nowhere close to dead.

And considering the value of Facebook to my site, I'd also say that social media is in no way in position to take over for search any time soon.

Samizdata




msg:4636769
 11:17 pm on Jan 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

There is more out there that Google is not showing.

Undoubtedly.

And WebmasterWorld is full of complaints about sites being penalised.

My understanding is that directories are often affected.

It is clear to all here that search engines are less than perfect.

But the question posed was "Is search dead?".

I would say it quite obviously is not.

Feel free to disagree.

...

onlineleben




msg:4636776
 12:15 am on Jan 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

Google is not a discovery engine. Google is a search engine. What it can do is amazing and fantastic

Martini, thanks for the Story of finding what you needed.
Search is not dead - We don't need SEs, but FIND-engines.

lucy24




msg:4636782
 1:48 am on Jan 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

Google is not a discovery engine. Google is a search engine.

If the intended difference is that a search engine helps you find stuff you already know about, I have to say that the major search engines aren't too perfect at that either :( (Have you never tried and failed to re-find a site that you visited only the day before yesterday?)

superclown2




msg:4636840
 9:20 am on Jan 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

One of the factors which prompted me to open this thread was watching a Microsoft advert on UK TV. They were pushing their email system (I think!) by having people talking in pidgin Latin, presumably to show that Google's email system was insecure whilst theirs wasn't. Frankly it went right over my head at first and I'm a techie. I asked a few friends and none of them had a clue what it was all about. Add this to their TV campaign for their search engine that had people howling like wolves (?) and to me it's obvious that they need a new advertising agency.

Recently a new approach to search was tried with the late engine Couill; or was it Ciuill; or perhaps Cooill? Does anyone know how to spell it, let alone type it into a search bar? They needed a new marketing manager. Too late now.

Duckduckgo.com is an excellent search engine by all accounts. However, who's going to type that in? How unintuitive is that name? They need a new marketing strategy. I understand they tried to buy duck.com but Google got there first and blocked them. Google's marketing is first class.

Yes Google is very useful for many things but serious search isn't one of them. So I contend that we need more search engines which offer different approaches than just assuming that every search is a commercial one therefore the best results are the half dozen or so biggest companies that happen to mention the search term, or something vaguely similar, on one of their pages. However, inventing the best mousetrap no longer brings the world beating a path to your door. It has to be marketed too. And that means getting a simple message across. Forget howling people suffering from information overload and guys talking Latin in a pub, people need to be told "if you need to solve your problems by getting the right information, find it quickly and simply here". Keep it simple. Don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle.

So OK, perhaps search isn't completely dead. It could be, one day soon, though if more and more people realise that their favourite search engine just doesn't deliver the goods any more, and if others aren't ready to step in with an effective sales message.

Just my opinion of course.

joshaws




msg:4637349
 2:12 pm on Jan 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

I have to argue the opposite. Search engines are just coming into their own. An increase in learning software will allow search engines to get better, more intuitive when crawling for results. Those who say they don't "search" for things are most likely lying to themselves. Search is pervasive in modern society for a range of disciplines.

Now that search engines like Google have the tech to increase effectiveness and get rid of more spammy content, the cream will rise to the top. I see a pretty bright future for it all. It is, however, certainly possible that a new search technology will be developed that destroys current conventions and businesses based on those conventions.

engine




msg:4637391
 5:12 pm on Jan 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

Search is not dead at all.

Search has changed.

Desktop search, as we know it, has plateaued, imho.

Chrome has risen significantly, and guess what, the default search is! FF has Google as default.

The rise of mobile/tablets, and proprietary software, such as Android (it may also be argued that it's not proprietary), has meant that users are automatically searching on google, whether they know it or not. Most don't know, or care. Google own the search on Android, just as Microsoft owns search on Windows mobile.

People go to online destinations with their apps. Facebook, Twitter, maps, Skype, etc.

All the major ecommerce players have an app for the mobile/tablet. Guess what, there's no need to search with a search engine when the app is open.

One thing that makes Google great is in-depth research. Forget all the generic things, such as searching for an actor, you can get that info from anywhere. Google loves new content, and long tail. Bing is relatively slow to find and to index new content, especially relative to google. If you're researching, you need current and long tail.

For general searching, Bing is fine, but that's not good enough, imho.

I agree, Microsoft's advertising has not been good, whether it be for Bing, or Surface, or whatever it was they advertised the other day. Perhaps it was for Outlook. I detest the negative advertising stance against google. That is sour grapes.

Microsoft have also made some big errors, imho, with Vista, and now Win 8 (for desktop), which has scared people by the completely changed interface.

What chance do other search services stand with the general public! Very little, imho. They need apps and widgets, and they need a significant marketing budget if they are to get anywhere.

Search is not dead, it's just changed.

superclown2




msg:4637594
 2:00 pm on Jan 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

I have to argue the opposite. Search engines are just coming into their own. An increase in learning software will allow search engines to get better, more intuitive when crawling for results.


The learning software, though, relies upon a lot of knowledge about the searcher. European regulators don't like that. I feel that either a real battle will erupt over this - which would threaten Google's whole modus operandi - or we will all have to accept that privacy is the thing that doesn't exist any more. And that's creepy.

In the meanwhile I still can't find green square widgets without wading through red ones, brown ones, oval ones, and every other combination known to man. I could do so two years ago though. If this is progress then perhaps I really am a dinosaur.

superclown2




msg:4637598
 2:23 pm on Jan 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

I detest the negative advertising stance against google. That is sour grapes


Absolutely. When I was a young salesman one of the first lessons I was taught was never to knock the opposition, it just doesn't work. Another maxim that was drummed into us was 'keep it simple'. Microsoft, and a lot of other web companies have never learned that. Perhaps they need some old fashioned marketing people to work alongside the techies.

Google also, in my humble opinion, are guilty of this. Their machine learning algorithm is based on a big gamble that they will get away with ignoring privacy concerns indefinitely. In the meanwhile their much simpler algos worked, again perhaps just in my opinion, far better before they started this.

Sure, mobile search is significant and growing. Whilst I'm on the road I can find the nearest restaurant, filling station, tourist destination, pretty much anything I need as a traveller - but I get it from my satnav and not my smartphone. Shopping? I use my Kindle (nearly everyone I know has got one) and go direct to Amazon - saves me a fortune in time and petrol. There are rumours too that Apple may be developing their own search engine. I wouldn't assume that Google will have it all it's own way indefinitely, business doesn't work like that.

superclown2




msg:4637725
 11:44 pm on Jan 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

FF has Google as default


Hardly surprising since 90% of Mozilla's income comes from Google. I wonder how many FF users know that?

roshaoar




msg:4640710
 10:14 am on Jan 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

No, search isn't dead at all, but it has changed. I don't think it's quite the "giant killer" opportunity that it used to be.

Compared to a few years ago, the results are much more predictable (a brand/manufacturer, amazon, ebay, Wikipedia, google images, youtube & google ads will be in the top 20).

Finding obscure info is more difficult than it used to be - Google only shows a limited set of information. even using "" and all that.

Nowadays, sometimes I can't find any information at all about some topics. I used to always be able to find information about anything. martinibuster's post echoes strongly with me.

I'd like to see a search engine that actually offers users research options rather than the default set of results. Ie 'favour discussions' 'favour long pages' 'favour many images' 'favour accredited papers' 'favour niche sites'. Ie a proper dashboard in which the user can choose what sort of results they'd like returned rather than being given 'the definitive list because it's google's results'.

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