Are Google’s Results Better Today Than They Were 5 Years Ago?

Google CEO talks improvements to Google search

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According to Google CEO Larry Page, you’d be astounded by how bad Google search was 5 years ago.

Do you think Google is significantly better than it was five years ago? How about two years ago? One year ago? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Google has done a whole lot in the past five years. In the past year and a half or so, they launched two major algorithmic changes in Panda and Penguin, designed to surface higher quality content and reduce the clutter of webpsam. There have been a lot of complaints about both updates, but Google seems to think they have been successful.

Page spoke at Zeitgeist 2012 this week, talking about a number of things, and wearing the famous Google glasses (or glass, if you prefer).

“I think that’s a really big area of focus for us,” Page said, regarding search. That’s good to know. Google is still focused on search (in case you’ve been distracted by fancy future glasses, cars that drive themselves, and that sort of thing).

Page spoke about the ways Google is getting better at search (though I’m not sure everyone completely agrees on that, based on many of the comments we see on a daily basis).

“It’s an area where, you know, I think if you used Google from five years ago, you’d be astounded by how bad it is. Or how bad it was,” Page said. He then talked about things like Google’s Search Plus Your World personalized results and the recently launched knowledge graph.

Search Plus Your World would be referring to Google’s big personalized search push, launched earlier this year. It draws heavily on the user’s Google+ connections, as well as various other social connections (though missing valuable personal data from networks like Facebook and Twitter).

Knowledge Graph is what Google a launched last week, designed to help users find the things they’re actually looking for without having to click over to other sites (and to distinguish between queries with more than one meaning – such as Tesla the scientist vs. Tesla the car company vs. Tesla the rock band).

While we’ve seen plenty of complaints about Search Plus Your World, I can’t honestly say I’ve seen many about Knowledge Graph.

“Search has gotten a lot better,” said Page. “You don’t always see it, because we change it every day, and we try not to distract you too much with changes, but I think one of the things I’m most proud of that we did recently is that I have a friend at Google named Ben Smith, and that’s a very common name in the U.S. You know, Smith’s the most common last name. And it was very difficult to find him before. But now actually, with Google+ and with our understanding of all that, when I search for ‘Ben Smith,’ I actually get the Ben Smith that I know, and he actually appears in the search box. There’s a little picture of him, and if that’s not the Ben Smith I want, I can, you know, delete him, and put a different one in. But I’m actually searching for that person, rather than the sting – the combination of letters, and that’s a really big deal for Google.”

He says they’re calling the Knowledge Graph boxes “knowledge panels.”

“What we’re really trying to do is get to the point where we can represent knowledge, and we can do much more complicated types of queries,” said Page. “What are the 20 deepest lakes? What are the highest market cap companies? Whatever. Things like that. Things where we really understand what that query means, rather than just give you the exact text that matches best on some webpage somewhere, and so we’re really looking at synthesizing knowledge, and I’m incredibly excited about that.”

Synthesizing. Perhaps the Moog doodle on Google’s homepage this week was more symbolic than anyone thought.

Interestingly, since the Knowledge Graph was introduced, there seems to be less emphasis on Google+ content from Google’s SERPs in some cases. For example, before, with Search Plus Your World, a search for “music” might have brought up the Google+ profiles of random artists in a box on the side, but now, that query will bring up knowledge graph results for people. From there, you can click on the artist you want, where you’ll be directed to a different SERP specifically for that artist.

When you are on the SERP for a particular person, however, you might see Google+ profiles. This is the case with Mark Zuckerberg, for example.

Some users have complained since SPYW launched that there is too much Google+ in search results now, but Google also made an algorithmic change in March that may have toned that down a bit too.

Google is tasked with quite the balancing act in trying to use its properties to grow Google+, while not sacrificing search relevancy in the process.

Do you think Google’s results are the best they’ve ever been? Do you think they’ve improved in the past five years? Let us know what you think.

Are Google’s Results Better Today Than They Were 5 Years Ago?
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  • http://www.google-is-evil.xxx Lester

    Search has gotten a lot better for Google in terms of the mighty Goog telling us what we want as opposed to us finding what we want!

    • http://www.php-developer.org/ Codex-m

      Google search seriously deteriorates in terms of quality. I give you some proof (remove the quotes when searching in Google, samples are from google.com US):

      1.) Search “mountain bike frame for rough terrain”, Google give me Wikipedia on mountain bike that does tell anything what frame do I need to rough terrain.

      And then some non-sense Amazon page on mountain bikes.

      2.) Search “choosing swimming goggles for beginners”, the search provides me a page on Helium with only 300 words, NOT enough to explain clearly for beginners.

      3.) Search “blogger as an entrepreneur”, WTF Google does not answer this query instead shown me entrepreneur.com, etc.

      Conclusion: Google results sucks so hard today than the previous 5 years. My observation is that they rely too much on website authority today to rank websites. As a result, authority websites showing IRRELEVANT results. That’s how Google sucks so hard today.

      • Paul Lorand

        I also searched for “internet advertising” and found that major sites like bidvertiser or majon, clicksor, etc… totally dropped from search results to pages 6-7 or simply do not appear at all. GOOGLE, wake up, you are forcing us to leave for bing or other competitors with the results you provide for MAJOR search queries.

  • http://www.dimagrirevelocemente.info Dimagrire velocemente

    Google is getting better but there are certain keywords where it still doesn’t work properly.
    Anyway I like the low profile of Page.

  • JJ

    No Mr. Page, I Am Astounded By How Bad Google Search Is TODAY – And Your Total Lack Of Fashion Sense.

  • http://www.tekstilev.com Nevresim


  • http://www.bladdercancerfight.blogspot.co.uk Ian

    Yes, Goggle searches are better for me. They are quicker; more relevant.

  • http://www.secretdateme.ning.com emmanuel

    it good

  • David McCannon

    A bunch of hot air and irrelevant searches. They got you where they want you and you have to pay them to get a good listing. I feel sorry for the small business people because they will never make it depending on Google for website traffic.

  • http://N/A Travers

    My own experience of google search is that it was definitely at its best three or four years ago – I can recall it being pretty poor (but still the best of a bad lot) ten years ago. Lately, within the last year or so, I have noticed a discernible, often quite dramatic, worsening in the quality of the search results. Whether this is down to increased webspam activity or Google’s half-assed attempts to fix the problem, I cannot judge. The upshot is that I am using other search engines far more than I was, and I would say that bing is starting to prove more useful (i.e. returning more relevant and content-rich sites) in its search listings than google is. I think google have lost the plot and have forgotten what the internet was about. From what I can make of their recent initiatives (panda, penguin, etc), all seem to be bodges that are designed to target specific bad practice, but they have the unfortunate side-effect of downplaying the value of content and making it easier (paradoxically) for those who want to play the system to do so, at the expense of the smaller not-for-profit sites run by amateurs. I think there is a real danger that unless a strong competitor to google emerges within the next five years the internet as we know it will be long dead and will cease to be a valuable research tool. I have no axe to grind – I just wish google and the other search engines would focus on what is important and cut out all the hype and posturing.

  • Google Needs to Start Thinking

    It has become “Funnier”. If that’s what he meant by “Better”. I wish to write an article with real examples but am not sure how and where to bring it in front of the people.

  • http://www.duckduckgo.com Patricia

    i see a lot more ads and also bigger, so it’s not a search engine anymore, it’s an AD ENGINE, on a laptop i see 0 natural results, only ads.

  • DiAnna

    The results are extremely poor, Patricia is right with her comments, AD-engine!!
    Google has just about eliminated the small business’s from their organic results.

  • Budoy

    No content and old pages are appearing in page 1 of the SERP. the search result of Google is deteriorating.. so sad…

  • http://comfortwearables.com Gena

    Much worse in my viewpoint. I rarely find what I’m looking for in a Google search anymore, usually lots of big sites with irrelevant content to what I am looking for. I find more relevant results on Youtube, oddly enough. And don’t even get me started on the Google shopping tab, it’s a royal mess!

  • Linda

    Google has become a nightmare and more so in the last month. Cannot find what you are looking for half of the time. Such as, I searched for fottball jerseys and came up with helmets. You cannot see all the stores selling without clicking in and out of one link with “50 sellers”. Google has become so messed up we are starting to use Yahoo for shopping instead.

  • http://www.rwrinnovations.com Ron Nixon

    Google is worse than it was a few years ago. But, it is not totally Gogle’s fault.

  • Linda

    What planet is Larry Page living on?

  • RC

    Search is MUCH WORSE today than it was 5 years ago or even just one year ago — especially for product searches. Today, I typically get a bunch of irrelevant content (blogs, adsense sites, etc.) which have undoubtedly gained “authority” through backlinks that simply fool search engines. This entire “ranking” philosophy based on links was ill-conceived and has over the years opened a huge can of worms. Backlinks and the like should have little or no “ranking” value. A site should be rated on its actual content, appeal, and relevancy. Google now is desperately attempting to clean up the mess they created.

    Good luck, Google, on digging up all those worms . . .

    • http://gocabrera.com Adrian

      Agree entirely with this comment. I have never understood why Google placed relevancy on backlinks. All this has done is create a system open to abuse by sites whose content was thin and the only way they could get to the top in serps was buying backlinks to fool Google’s algorithm.

  • Dot

    The day after they ran Penguin, I came across a page that was total gibberish with just 3 underlined, bold keywords amidst total garbage, things like F*%#, and others that weren’t even words, just those three keywords. This was right on the top of page 2, right where my site once was, that is why I found it. It truly reminded me of say ’04-’06. Google search today, really stinks. I watched Page on Charlie Rose the other night and wondered if he ever really uses Google anymore. Probably not, he is too busy with more interesting projects.

  • http://alborzfazli.persianblog.ir/ fazli


  • Tom Loeber

    I use Duckduckgo more and more. I don’t like the money payment dependent placement of ads in results and the spread of targeted ads amongst other internet involvements that Google now does. I don’t like the invasion of and sharing of private user identity details. I also don’t like the censorship of information that Google does with deletion of videos and non-inclusion of search results that don’t tow the inordinate conspiratorial opportunism corporate line.

    Do no evil? Try being super rich and see how far a token existence can help you avoid doing evil.

  • http://www.flailingmonkey.com Michael Ratcliffe

    About 5 years ago Google were doing well but now that they gather so much information about people I find that my search results are not representative of the real world but representative of what google “think” I want to see.

    I don’t to search a bubble of the internet, I want to search the whole thing!

  • http://www.admain.se AdMain

    To be fair. There is not much difference in search results. It seems to be mainly the same sites for the same results as it was 5 years, 4 years ago, 3 years ago, 2 years ago and so on.

    The only real difference is sometimes you get news feeds appearing in the top ten, but by and large and aside from one or two websites dropping off the web, things are roughly the same for the searches we do to check client rankings.

    • Neo

      You’ve got to be kidding. Search for the term.. Mailing lists. Do you see anywhere on the first page any kind of a company that can sell you a commercial mailing list? Before their last update there were plenty.

      But Google reported a loss in ad revenues in the last quarter of 2011. So bingo like magic, an algo change occurs to eliminate many commercial sites from the first pages so they’ll buy Google ads.

      I mean, you don’t have to be a genius to figure this out? Google derives 97% of their income from advertising. They are a one trick pony that sweats bullets every time a threat to their advertising comes up. Their search result quality continues to tank after each algo change as they eliminate commercial sites people are looking for.


  • http://www.blazingboots.com David Eddison

    While there have been some major improvements the basic, find me what I’m looking for, is not nearly as good as it was 5 years ago, however if I was searching for a paid for ad then yes it delivers otherwise use yahoo or bing.

  • http://www.campfirecontent.com/ Charlie

    I think Google (and others) have progressed in search, overall. I also think users have progressed in search; that is, we’re all learning more about how search happens, so we’re refining our own search techniques, I think.

    I have yet to see or use Knowledge Graph, but it does sound pretty good. We all know the English (and others, surely) language can be cumbersome and confusing, since many words have multiple meanings. Plus, grammar, spelling, context and other ‘semantic-relative’ items do, too. So far, no search engine can translate our typed or spoken words into the true depth of intention we have in our thoughts, y’know?

    When someone comes out with that, I think search will be near-perfect. Sorta like the Star-Trek computer. Just ask the question, you get the answer. Nothing to sift through, as long as the question is asked properly, and the computer’s databases are impervious to flaws or other insecurities and inaccuracies. I’m just sayin’…

  • http://www.abscisicacidandcancer.com Gonzalo Romero M

    I agree google search and results are better than before

  • http://www.outreachlocal.com/ David

    I do agree that better results we’re getting now in Google but still I feel that Google should provide much better results which it has unable to achieve yet.

    Google is updating its algorithm continuously still low quality sites are ranking better, so the algorithm should be much stronger to give the best results to users.

  • C. Siberia

    It was much better 3 years ago. Every search you do brings up Wiki first thing. Why? Too many irrelevant searches come up

  • http://nenocomputers.co.za Yegama

    5 years ago results were great today its money- ads

    • http://kbsconsultants.in/ Sankaran Sivaramakrishnan

      Ads & sponsored results and a compulsion to grow sideways…Not Good business

  • http://www.sunnygloves.in Afzal Abdullah

    as far as my experiebce is concerned abot Google. google has improved a lot and it is the best search engine globally nobody can beat Google due to its userfrei dly featyres and every thing you search is just by typing your desired subject and it is just a matter of one clcik I always use google search engine since last several years and i g
    iv full credit for their full dedication and sincere effort and ofocurse their innovative ideas and their strategy to alwya to add something new …I salute google for keeping our knwledge always update…

  • http://www.LAokay.com Steve G

    Google has gotten worse overall. A year or two I would have said, Google isn’t perfect, but it’s much better than Yahoo or Bing. Now I’m forced to use Bing, and while I still hate Bing, it’s still a lot better than Google is today. The sad part is I use Google for my site search, because Bing wants to charge a fee, and I can get free site search from Google, not to mention that I’m using Adsense for Search, so I make money on the ads that display. But if Bing ever offers free site search, I’m switching over, especially if it comes with ads I can make money off of.

    Google needs to roll back Panda, however I think Penguin is more on the right track and what Google should have done instead of Panda. I mean at least the concept of Penguin seems legitimate, except for the part where Google doesn’t simply ignore spammy links, which pretty much opened the door for negative SEO to be done against any site. I would love to see a sandbox test of if Google were to roll back Panda and use Penguin to ignore spammy links if the results would be better or worse from today. I bet you if Google were to do that and allow users to beta test it out the results would rock Google’s world and make them rethink everything they do in small steps and quit trying to make major changes where it screws everything up.

  • Voltara

    I believe search results were better 5 years ago and so does Google. The shaped the spam sewer the web became by setting the ranking rules. They promoted adsense and encouraged the creation of websites to carry it. They rewarded people who linked from the billions of worthless articles and guides which have been published (spun) on every subject.

    Then Google looked at what they had done and realised it was a mess and worse, they had to share their advertising revenue with site owners. So they started to nudge web content towards a new structure, which would also conveniently return them twice as much revenue.

    Then came panda which toppled many sites which had been top of the rankings for years. These were replaced by a multitude of keyword and focused, optimised sites, most of which had been built to attract SE attention on a thin spread of terms. Quality of the SERPs fell substantially.

    Then came penguin, which undid some of the obvious mistakes of Panda and turned up the power of the old links and PR. It was a “back to the future” admission that much of the white hat SEO encouraged by google over the last 5 years has led to inferior SERPs.

    The penguin/panda double act shows that google doesn’t know where to go next. Penguin was not just a continuation of the Panda process, it was a reversal of some panda fundamentals. They can talk all they like about social media and “like” buttons, but this is only because they are scared of Facebook. Relying on these factors as ranking indicators is just opening up a whole new green-field for gaming the system. It’s a lot easier to get a stooge to click a”like” button than it is to have somebody place a link to your site on theirs. It occurs to me that google has little interest or investment in social media and would be happy to see its sharing functions made irrelevant by seos.

  • Paul Lorand

    I personally switched to Bing with majority of searches I am doing daily while online.

    The quality of Google results is going down day by day, especially now after the penguin update and I simply started not to be able to find what I am looking for unless browsing 3-5 pages, unfortunately. Sorry Google but I was forced to leave.

  • Gail McPherson

    I like the recent updates in April, my picture in Google Profile appears on page one without having to select it,(like it used to be), I don’t know why they changed that for a few months. That’s a lot better than Facebook which I do not subscribe to. I wish they would put your Google Profile at the top of page one however-it makes sense.

  • http://www.Facebook.com/websitemarketingworks/ Steve at web marketing works

    YES It’s loads better for the site visitor. The reverse is true for search marketing companies. Yes it’s heavily biased to paid search but in Googles defence they’ve been telling us what to do for years. Anyone using Webmaster tools will know the basics. Search marketing is not just about SEO it’s about engagement, popularity and relevance too.

  • http://www.seonorthamerica.com Tom Aikins

    I think that Google has gotten worse and that I get better results from other search engines. The information that I get when I do searches on Google just isn’t very good. The pages they bring up are not really relevant.

  • Nancy

    Well, I can’t seem to find anything on Google to the point that I stopped using it over a year ago for text search. I only use their image search. I use either Yahoo or Bing for text search. Never thought I’d ever do that.

    Google used to be so good years ago. It gradually got bad. I guess they are forgetting that the bad guys are a minority compared to the good guys. They are pressing too hard and killing the good guys. The bad guys won’t lose; they’ll adjust. Google needs to learn to live with them. If this world didn’t have bad guys, it wouldn’t be a world.

    I loved the Google in 2005. Before Adsense it was a dream too.

  • http://www.blogsonblogger.com Blogger Blogs Directory

    I would say that Google’s Search experience at the moment is far better than it was last year. Although not always accurate in delivering some expected search results but it sure does better than it has ever done before.

  • http://debtplandirect.com Delsie Salmon

    Google search results have actually gotten worse recently. The results used to show articles that were similar to what pulled up in the search, now it’s almost impossible to find those. Google has a huge monopoly on which sites come up.

  • http://bakgor.net sohbet

    I agree google search and results are better than before.. thanks.

  • http://writingasaghost.com Denise

    This latest Google change has made a significant difference in the results of all my searches–a significant downhill turn. Penguin is now sending me to corporate sites where I don’t get the type of information I’m looking for at all.

    When I’m looking for landscaping advice, I’m happier going to a site of a local landscaper. If I want painting advice, I’m happier going to the site of a painter who is sharing his or her personal experience.

    They’ve done the internet a disservice with this last change.

  • David

    Just One line answer – The google search results quality are becoming poor and poor.

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  • http://www.geometricus.com/ PABLO

    in my opinion it was better google 5 years ago

  • http://creditcreator.com J Egan

    Google search was much more interesting 5 years ago. If I searched I would find interesting sites with interesting offers.

    Now every time I do a search it is all big national name brands like Walmart, Ebay and Overture. Over and over again. I dont need the internet to find out about those sellers.

  • http://novelwebcreation.com Novel Web Creation

    I want google best search results on My website!

  • http://www.website-doctor.com/ Charles Willcock

    Forget what people say watch what they do is an old saying and the stats of most websites suggest that most internet users would not notice if all the other search engines in the world disappeared tomorrow as most are using Google. As they use Google through choice – they could use Bing etc. but in reality they are choosing Google. Conclusion others must be doing worse than Google when it comes to results.

  • http://www.worldtravelingartist.com Alexander

    Definitely not better then 5 years ago. Worse even.

  • http://www.danatanseo.com Dana Tan

    While I don’t have any quantitative proof to say that Google’s results, IMHO, are actually worse now than they were five years ago (i.e. screenshots of my searches from five years ago), what I will say is that more and more frequently I am giving up and going to Bing. My father, aged 79, recently became so frustrated with Google returning results that weren’t helpful that he’s bailed and gone to Bing for all of his searches. For all their algorithms and efforts, the amount of garbage in the first 10 results has just gotten worse.

  • http://www.cybervideogameworld.com Terry Hamilton

    Good morning to all; the demographics of the various subject matter as it is directly implied simply suggests their could a marginal need to move ever so slightly to more of a practical approach to user friendly infograhics. Campaigns are’nt fought and won by merely offers and introductory package deals. In this arena today we must’nt forget the overall appeal that’s factual… “presentation is everything” and its ever increasing need to draw winning marketable strategies, and is indeed the business of continued growth, where the very people’s interests play the most significant role.

  • http://www.tracieloeterra.info/ Stellina2012

    I think that google now is much better than five years ago!

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