• http://www.michael-martinez.com/ Michael Martinez

    Here’s the problem with all the complaints about Google’s relevancy (including my own through the years): Who gets to define what is “relevant”? Users have different tastes and different needs, and according to the Wikipedia Principle “a search engine intentionally promotes low quality content that is minimally acceptable to searchers because it costs less to do that than to promote better content.”

    “Intentionally” means that as soon as the search engine reaches a generally acceptable level of user satisfaction, its economic incentive to improve the quality of results diminishes. Happy Users = Point of No Further Searching.

    As long as the users are the arbiters of what is satisfactory, one can hardly expect search results match the criteria laid down by experts.

  • http://www.nexcerpt.com/ nexcerpt

    Something at Google is profoundly broken. Google News (as you’ve noted) is beginning to miss the obvious, and promote the absurd. For example, I’ve come upon major failures (of attribution and provenance) over issues as diverse as BetaNews content (http://blog.nexcerpt.com/2010/11/27/google_news_trend/ ), Oprah Winfrey announcements (http://blog.nexcerpt.com/2010/12/03/news-of-awakening/ ), and local ballet companies (http://blog.nexcerpt.com/2010/11/05/seeking_sex_spam/ ).

    Years ago, well before Google — when the universe of advisors included you, Greg, Tara, Genie and a few others — SEO advice was intended to help real people, with valuable content, reach people who needed it. A deep hint might have been: “Identify the subject of your page in the first paragraph.” But, once “consulting” in that space began, all hell broke loose. The anchors were ripped free; the world wobbled.

    Google has itself to blame. By drumming up such mystique around PageRank, and “answering” so many “questions” about optimizing for it, Google created the monstrosity we know as the SEO industry. The industry produces nothing; it feeds on its own relentless failure; it is the intellectual equivalent of daytrading; it is the moral equivalent of stock manipulation. It’s a scourge upon a once promising landscape.

    Google deserves to suffer from the very sleight of hand it has long encouraged. It’s unfortunate that so many others need to suffer along.

  • http://www.highrankings.com/seoservicestwitter Jill Whalen

    That’s what makes this all so difficult. It’s not that the pages that show up aren’t relevant–as mostly they are.

    In my mind, it’s the methods used to get them there that are spammy, and Google seems to be turning a blind eye to that. Which certainly makes it feel like they don’t truly care whether you use spam tactics or not, despite what they tell us.

  • http://www.geise.com PXLated

    “The reality is that millions of people do millions of successful searches on Google each day. If there was a big problem, it would be losing share massively.”
    Not necessarily true, it’s the default search almost everywhere. If all this press about the decline in results hits the main stream so people (other than tech blog readers) hear about it and start taking notice, then you just might see a big exodus.

  • armaani

    If there were a way to remove pages with Google ads from Google search results, the Google search results would be much better.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com George Michie

    One other Machiavellian possibility comes from being mindful of how Google makes money in the short term and the long term.

    In the short term, Google makes zero dollars from organic search results that don’t contain Google ads on the destination page. If the SERPs become less relevant and more spammy, in the short run G makes more money from organic search. Moreover, if the organic results become less relevant then by definition the paid results become relatively more relevant increasing the CTR on paid listings and boosting short-term revenues again.

    In the long term, Google makes its money by being the choice of the lion’s share of users, and if relevancy suffers they jeopardize there long-term revenue.

    The balancing act between long-term and short-term views could explain a great deal. This seems to be manifested in the Google Product team caring only about mechanisms for delivering great results, and the sales team/business team being driven to grow short term revenue to meet Wall Street expectations. Interesting to see if relevance becomes more of an issue around the time of quarterly earnings calls :-)