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Has anyone really used Google as a user recently?



1:23 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I often take a back seat for months and then post like crazy for a few hours but this time I wanted to share a few observations as a user and maybe the wider implications from how I am seeing usage from friends and family etc.

I think it is as a response to the "google is broken" posts that got me thinking.

Firstly, my points are that I think Google is very much broken for a lot of people - ironically not as much for webmasters.

Basically I used google as a user a few weeks ago trying to help my daughter with a school project.

I have to say it was so difficult to get any sites at all with info on the topics, no matter the query it was the same sites (including wiki) and after the first 3 or 4 the relevance was shocking as my query term had been expanded and the rest was irrelevant.

I found the problem when my daughter said - "dad, I can't find anything" - and I laughed and said "I told you to search for XYZ and things relating to that, surely you can find something".

But when I went to her computer, you know what - we couldn't find absolutely any relevant results apart from the same top 3 (including wiki) and a school website. Apart from that it was a bleak landscape - and this for the details of a major time period in UK history.

So on the basis of that I have worked through many queries since and observed how my friends use the Internet and Google etc.

You know what - Google did not give me the results I expected for almost all queries - it was fantastic at my code queries (but almost always was the same 3 sites) - in fact the good queries led me to 5 unique sites over a 3 week period.

Google did not give good queries for non-tech stuff and I realised that my friends used it on mobile more and almost always when we were searching it ended with them clicking sponsored listings or asking other friends for ideas.

Google is actually broken.

I mean that in the modern way of using the web it is the equivalent of Alta Vista - it is not the best source of information.

In the post-Google world it is now social that makes the recommendations for anything - and I mean, people turning to other people in the room and asking "where did you get that cheap case of wine?"

Because Google can't answer commercial questions - and it is now so far of answering information questions that I have no advice to give to my daughter for her to be able to find the info on Google.

What we need is a clear "info" search engine by vertical that gives purely resources.

And Google scholar is NOT the answer - for the first time this cropped up at the top of my results for a query about alcohol consumption for research I am doing - however it is 10 years out of date and not relevant, date based stuff is not valid by inserting these results.

All in all Google is really poor for a lot of my queries, my childrens queries and my friends queries.

That is why a lot of them don't use Google anymore - and I won't be at all.


4:39 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

Have you tried using Bing for these topics?
I don't say you get better results with Bing, but it may be interesting to check them too.


7:19 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Probably by giving crap results Google is ensuring that it's adwords revenue graphs always look great and might also slowly be changing the user behavior to get them to click on adwords more than organic results.


7:50 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I still use google but might change soon. I guess I would rather click on the "Did you mean" search phrase instead of typing in bing or duck duck go, probably because I am lazy...


9:22 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

... might also slowly be changing the user behavior to get them to click on adwords more than organic results.

I think you can take that as a given. ;)


9:55 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Yes of course webmasters use google to search, why do these pointless "Google is broken try Bing" threads still appear here every few weeks ?


11:01 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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because they have a point? My only surprise is that nobody ever mentions that youtube is plagued by the same ethos of suggestions rather than relevancy. Hand in hand with ads on most clips.


11:07 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

driller41, Did I say use Bing? No. Not at all. So it's not a "Google is broken try Bing" thread is it? Why do so many people's only contribution to a thread make negative sweeping comments about a genuine post? Why do some people not even bother to read it and then make generalised negative statements rather than actually bother to put their contribution and experience to it?

I also didn't ask if webmasters use google to search - of course they do. I wasn't moaning about Google from a webmaster point of view.

I gave a real life situation where I honestly struggled to get any depth for a really simple information based query. Depth is my issue - yes i got a few relevant results at the top but after that, a wasteland of results.

My point was it was a while since I used Google to search for this type of query and was pretty staggered by the lack of any type of useful info - I was asking has anyone else noticed this change?

I actually went to the library and got a book. Sometimes the simple solutions are the best.


11:47 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

I actually went to the library and got a book.

Yep, and I have a recurring subscription to Britannica.

In the post-Google world it is now social that makes the recommendations for anything

I see that every day with my 24 year old daughter using Facebook, she doesn't even read the news since it appears on there just as quick.

"dad, I can't find anything"

I had precisely this situation last night. My daughter wanted a specific music track and could only find it on itunes where she does not have an account. She'd looked everywhere and finally turned to me and being a webmaster I knew precisely the terms to enter and bingo, which version do you want?

She couldn't believe it but also admitted she would never have considered entering the terms I had therefore maybe G is broken for the average user, certainly I know I have to be very specific when searching but even then there is still reprocessed, ripped-off and many times incorrect answers.


12:34 pm on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

I agree with Swanson that Google seems to be getting worse and worse. Panda and the like was supposed to fix some of this, but surely did not.

Partly this is Google, but mostly it is caused by all the copy-sites and scammers out there, which Google was supposed to kill off with Panda, but which are still there.

I see the number of scrapers that come by my own sites,and you can just try searching for some of the titles from even this site itself. Yesterday I was looking for scammers, and tried a title from this site.
Webmasterworld did come up first, but right behind it came lots of sites like


which has nothing of value, but steals other sites content off RSS and other.

Apparently they are hooked up to the webmasterworld RSS, and is listed by Google as having the same exact topic only less than 2 hours after it was posted on webmasterworld. (They even show it with a "nofollowed" link to webmasterworld.)
As they are a combination of many stolen sites, and they would have tons of "fresh content" Google's algos think they are as interesting as webmasterworld itself, which is obviously bogus.
(Notice the name of the site domain "Cagey Media". :) )

On searching Bing:
I track the accesses from Google and Bing a lot, and while Google has a strategy of basically sucking up EVERYTHING on the net and then trying to index/prioritize it for actual search, Bing is the exact opposite. Maybe because of limitations of their infra-structure. Bing sniffs a site, and if the initial page is not on a topic that might attract advertisers, it stops there and never digs any further. Only many incoming links can change it to be more interested, unless your topic is main-stream and already "wanted" by bing searchers/advertisers. But because of the "sniff" strategy, Bing may never realize all the other pages that might have great topics.

By definition, a search engine cannot show searchers what it has never looked at to begin with. So when Bing decides to only look at 1-5 pages from a site, while Google has loaded and indexed 80,000+ pages from the same site, that tells me that unless my search topic is main-stream and advertiser related so it can make Bing money, I might as well not even look at Bing. They use front-end prioritization, while Google use back-end prioritization. Hence I would never use Bing for search, since my topics of search are rarely main-stream, advertiser related. :)

Bing in their TV adds tried to market this as them presenting more "relevant" or "targeted" results, but the basic mantra still holds: A search engine cannot present to users what it has never even looked at to begin with., so that means a lot of lower level pages with valuable content are surely missing.

So.. In Google a topic might hide in all the junk. In Bing it was never loaded and indexed to begin with.


2:27 pm on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The thing I still use Google for searching the past 24 hours, or even the past hour. Bing finally added 24 hours search option a month or two ago, but they only offer it for items for which they think it will be useful.


4:49 pm on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

btw my point about youtube is because it shows this isnt a panda issue but a googleplex issue, its their intended vision.


5:15 pm on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I think google is going through a major transition right now. Right now the results are not their greatest and it can use a lot of improvement. I still use google but right now I am much more hesitant and in my head I realise it may take me a little longer to find what I need so if its not an important search, I will probably not do the search.

I can relate the situation to my favorite pizza place. They just hired a new guy to make the pizzas and pasta dishes so they do not taste as good as they used to. I know the owner is dedicated to making sure his customers are getting a good meal so I know eventually the food will return to its normal quality with time. But for now, I am hesitant to order from them while they work out the kinks.


6:20 pm on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

except a pizza restaurant makes its money from making sure its money product stays of good quality. organic serps compete directly with the ads, Whats a girl to do? Logically in this situation one would try and wean the user to accepting the ads as THE serps and the organic results as a just an interesting add-on, at least for money terms.


7:41 pm on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I pointed out months ago in these hallowed pages that I had given up using G to find information. If I search for widgets I get 800 sites that sell widgets headed by a big brand site which is an affiliate for another site that sells widgets. But information about widgets? The sites with that on are buried below page 5.

Google's original algo patents will soon be time lapsed which, IMHO, is why they've had to start all over again with a new one which is nowhere near as good as the one they thought of first.


7:45 pm on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Google's original algo patents will soon be time lapsed

They are doing the Big Pharma thing, change the drug enough to get new patent protection, doesn't need to be better as long as the brand name holds up. Google. No wonder they love brands now, they're all in the same boat.

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