Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's Official, Search Sucks

AutoByTel just commissioned a study on people's search habits, which found that 72% of Americans are experiencing "Search Engine Fatigue". They search but they are not finding what they are looking for. We in the industry are quite familiar with search fatigue. As I have posted before, most of the searching I do is vertical search from the Firefox toolbar with plugins like Wikipedia, Yelp, IMDB, Whois, etc.

Search ranking based on counting the number of inbound links made a lot of sense when inbound links actually meant something. Today, people have gamed the system so much that inbound links mean nothing. If you don't believe this statement, search for something that nobody cares to make money off of like Bridge Construction and the first few links actually are relevant and there are relevant targeted ads off to the right! It the mindblowing Google experience we all had a few years ago when we set Google to be our homepage.

Now search for something like Futon Filling or iPod Connectivity. These types of searches used to point to the content that people thought was most relevant. Now it points to the content that has the most cross linking by smarmy advertisers. Global search has made a gradual transition over the years from something useful to something useless, yet people are still repeating the patterns that used to work and wondering what is going on.

Is link-based page ranking dead? Maybe not, Jimmy Wales announced last year that he is building a search engine based off of the number of links from Wikipedia, which are well qualified links. Google keeps trying to stem the tide of bad links, but eventually they will have to change their algorithm to reflect the reality that most links suck. In the meantime, I think it is safe to say that global search is pretty lame, and I am going to stick with vertical search for most of my searching.


Superjag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Superjag said...

I tried those searches and got relevant results on the first page, such as What Is Inside a Futon? | and Using USB to connect iPod. Sure, they weren't the first results, but apparently Google has improved somewhat since this was posted.

(or has Google improved those two searches in response to your article? That would be sneaky...)

Daniel Gardiner said...

Peter, perhaps a socially relevant search engine might be the answer.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on this matter but Google has been looking for ways to provide quality search results for all internet users.

Thanks for the article that you shared in TechCrunch - that somehow enlightened me about the new rules used by search engines.

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