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Is Google moving away from search?

It seems results just keep getting worse

1:03 am on Feb 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Google has completely changed the world in almost every aspect. It made finding information extremely convenient and in some cases, made it possible to find information that would otherwise be not available to Joe Public. Alta Vista had a great search engine for their day, yet it was nowhere near as comprehensive as Google is today.

Google Search has never been perfect, but it was almost always the best way available at the time to find information quickly and that is reflected in their mission statement of "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful". The tool to find that information was always made available with their web search engine, which for all intents and purposes, took over from where Alta Vista left off.

Now, almost 1 year after the release of their first Panda iteration, it seems like nothing is accessible nor is their core product (relative to previous years) useful. I find myself banging my head sometimes trying to find something in the search results which is useful to whatever I'm doing at the time and I feel like these search results are reminiscent of searching for something in the 90s. Except in the 90s, all search engines supported a very useful search operator (+). Using double quotes so often on this keyboard layout hurts my fingers and thumbs and it doesn't have the same function, but I digress.

Google has obviously conceded to the fact that search results are not as great as they claim them to be and have offered "Verbatim Search" as an answer to the people who actually know what they are looking for and don't require a machine to second guess their thoughts. But when somebody is looking for "widget cost in czech republic", no person can honestly say that it would mean "'FirstName' Price concert in Prague" or that it's useful to any searcher. A verbatim search of that obscured search term reminded me of something Alta Vista was spitting out when it was owned by Digital.

So which genius at Google came up with this wonderful idea to try and predict what you're thinking? No genius came up with it.

Still, that doesn't really emphasize the point that Google is moving away from search. The latest change and consolidation of terms and privacy policy, along with Larry Page's apparent statement that Google is "one product" really seems to me that Search is no longer their focal point and that the company has moved on to other things. The closure of "Labs" seemed also to be a sign of new times. The new(ish) SERP layouts with the virtually indistinguishable ad format also seems to tell a similar story.

So what is Google's mission statement today? None of the events in the past couple of years seem to be about making information accessible and useful, but more about profits and increasing market share by a certain percentage every year. Any regular to the Google SEO forum has seen the complaints of many longtime WebmasterWorld users and Sgt_Kickaxe's thread [webmasterworld.com ] makes some very valid points about the contradictory nature of Google's new foundation (G+).

Has Google thrown its core business out the window in favour of a Facebook clone?
3:39 am on Feb 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Has Google thrown its core business out the window in favour of a Facebook clone?

Google's core business is advertising.

And so is Facebook's.

6:54 am on Feb 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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These internet mega-companies strive to get businesses to post their important and newsworthy content on the mega companies properties. Google places, google shopping, etc.

Facebook and Twitter the same way.

Deteriorating SERPS mean, these internet monoliths gain in relation to the original websites. The original websites lose in relevance and importance. These businesses are handing over their power to control their business to a degree.
1:20 pm on Feb 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Related to that topic is this thread [webmasterworld.com...] and especially some of the later comments on Google theft and their downward slope on the search engine side.
7:19 pm on Feb 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Google's core business is advertising.

I totally agree. Once they had the IPO, their mandate was to consistently be profitable, and to whatever extent possible, exceed the expectations of the financial analysts. To keep the profits at the same level is acceptable (up to a point), but to see profits drop means the stock value drops, and major stockholders lose many millions of dollars. When that happens, phone calls are made. Heads roll. Ultimatums are issued. So yes, at this point quality search is only the public relations end of Google. The core mandate is to turn a profit by any means necessary, and that is not going to change. If by good fortune the profit level meets expectations, and the stock value rises, AND the search quality is enhanced, well, that's good news for everyone. But only the first two things really matter to the people holding the paper ~ they can live with diminished quality, but they cannot live with lower stock value ... and in the end, they call the shots. That's just the way it works ~ search is a product, as is sodas, cereals, detergent, or anything else.


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