Is Google Getting Worse At Delivering Relevant Results?

    January 27, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

It was around this time last year when Google’s search results really started attracting a whole lot of criticism (more than usual). The content farm discussion was going full-throttle, and finally in February, Google launched the Panda update, its attempt at increasing the quality of search results.

Whether or not this actually worked has been widely debated.

It’s almost like the whole thing has started over this year, but not because of content farms so much. Now, everyone’s complaining about Search Plus Your World, for one. They’re saying the heavy Google+ integration is making their results less relevant. OK, maybe not everyone, but a lof of people are complaining.

I pointed out an example yesterday, where it seemed like Google’s recent freshness update was actually hurting the relevancy of search results.

Google privacy

Danny Sullivan is pointing to some questionable video results in Google, pointing out better results on Bing.

The reality is that often when we find poor quality results in Google, they’re not much better in Bing or Yahoo. However, recent Google updates may be changing that a bit – particularly Search Plus Your World. You’re not going to see Bing infused with tons of Google+ content.

For the record, I have found SPYW to both increase and decrease the relevancy of search results, depending on the query. Sometimes it makes more sense than others.

Regarding the video that Sullivan references, he says, “It’s embarrassing for Google to be doing this. And it’s worse when you look at the views the video has received: only about 2,000, at this point.”

He essentially goes on to make the case that even while the video in question isn’t coming from SPYW (my example wasn’t caused by SPYW either), it “feels like another bit of evidence that Google’s original core mission, delivering awesome search results, is being forgotten.”

I don’t know if it’s being forgotten. Google has hardly slowed down on the algorithm updates. But that doesn’t mean Google’s strategy isn’t having some negative side effects.

  • saleem ahmed

    Yes google are money grabbers that dont deliver

  • saleem ahmed

    I bet they dont publish the negatives

  • saleem ahmed

    Big boys are bad until you pay them lots of money,then they are not as bad

  • http://www.LAokay.com Steve G

    If Google were to kill Panda, the relevancy would return. It wouldn’t be perfect, but it would be several times better than what it is today. If I don’t like a site, I can block it from my search results. That doesn’t mean that the site necessarily is of low quality. There are many reasons somebody might want to ban a site from their search results that have nothing to do with quality or spam.

  • martin

    google is not throwing out results that are less than 10% accurate to my situation. what is google going to do about it?

  • wendy

    Yes I believe they are doing this on purpose for more than one reason. I can’t get the rare content I’m looking for unless it refers to a sale for someone. Info giving is being squashed and in its place is a game with sites digging for customers.

    Its not just google search even state and local governments are making it impossible to gather important information. They changed their websites so you can’t get a straight answer. This started seemingly after Obama became president and I don’t blame him but that’s when my results took a serious plummet.

    It seems that they want to know more about us than us about them. They won’t do a thing about it it will only get worse until authority changes hands. I don’t believe google is the one making these changes. It’s presented as new ways to do things, I don’t buy it. I say that because it is youtube, government sites,firefox which updates to a new engine every other week, google and facebook. This looks like a revamping of the internet geared toward what information is allowed to be seen by the population, not for sales only. Other wise there would be both and also my results for looking for certain video’s…are no longer on the web and not just for copyright reasons.

    It’s all about them gathering info on us, an evaluation of population mindset maybe or just with holding info. Its blatant in your face “we control what goes on” mantality.

    No one seems to be noticing not sure why–its so obvious. Treating us like we are dumb well hate to clue them in we are not all oblivious. When I say them or they I’m referring to whoever is in control probably the ones with the money to bribe, blackmale or hire a hit. That information used to be on the web. A person who for example may creates an alternative technology ends up murdered and you could find that info on the web. Now you can’t find the technology never mind the obituary/news on their death.

    Sorry but I just had to say it I can’t see why no one is just saying it.

  • Pascal

    Google keeps changing the rules for seo. I work as a seo myself for the last 15 years and have become more then frustrated with their rule changes. My prediction is that they will lose market share more and more. Searchengines with clear and logical rules will take over.
    Apparently google is so arrogant they think they can get away with anything. They can’t. More and more people are annoyed by their ever changing rules and deteriorating search results. A good example is the payday loan niche: do a search for payday loans and see what dominates the top 10 results.
    Several low quality websites with fake Mcafee security buttons are in the top 10. The large payday loan companies are nowhere to be found.

    It’s just one of the many examples that shows google is losing it. Ofcourse it’s a hard task to deliver quality results, And there will always be people who try to game the results. Changing the rules every time certainly will not contribute to better search results: it will lead to frustrated webmasters and frustrated searchers.

    Google was doing a great job 5 years ago when they had clear rules. Once in a while you would find a unrelated result, now 5 years later 80% of the results on page 1 is either unrelated or of very low quality

  • http://littlebizsites.co.uk Steve Hippel

    I have to use Google for work but have switched for personal use. I would urge people to shop with their feet if they want to see change.

    Here’s a prime example of how messed up Google results have become in the last year.

    I just searched for “plumbers Bexhill” (Bexhill is a small town on the Sussex coast). The results contained 7 directories and 3 national plumbers.

    Not a single Bexhill based plumber on the front page. Why return 7 directories. Do we search on Google so that we can search again on a directory???? I think not.