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Ask HN: Has Google search got noticably worse recently?
31 points by dageshi 7 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 26 comments
I'm not usually on the bash Google bandwagon, up until very recently Google Search has worked perfectly well for me. But I'd say in the past month or two I've begun to notice that for some queries where I'm searching for something I know exists it just doesn't seem to work very well?

Specifically this has been around looking for specific episodes of podcasts, youtube videos or news articles that I know exist and I know I'm using search terms that line up with what's in the descriptions/content of these media.

The specific example that pushed me over the edge to write this was searching for a news article I know exists on Battlefield 1 sales numbers, instead google's showing me the standard stuff (wiki articles that don't have what I'm looking for) and telling me about battlefield V or the new battlefield that's about to release.

I'm not sure what they're doing but it's starting to feel noticeably worse than it was before.

The puck has been traveling in the wrong direction for years now:

Ask HN: Has Google search been worse at finding information lately? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26460092

Google's search results have gotten worse https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26352219

What Is Going on at Google? 'The search engine is becoming worse by the month' https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26187421

Ask HN: Are Google products getting worse? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25139358

Ask HN: have Google search results worsened? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20275865

Ask HN: Is it just me or did Google search recently get a lot worse? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19132927

Ask HN: Is Google's search quality declining? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18653254

Ask HN: Over the years, has Google Search gotten better or worse (for you)? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18266966

Adding mine "Rant HN: Why I hate modern Google Search, a perfect example"


Coincidentally it was 3 months ago so it fits the OP's general time estimate although the degradation has been happening for years

Not only just the aspect I ranted about, but also the fact there's a bunch of low-quality code web scrapers that are showing up on the first page of results. These garbage websites literally just copy and paste the contents of sites like Stack Overflow or GitHub, and the domain is always different, and the formatting gives a low quality impression as well. My search term in quotes are not even on the page half the time.

Please excuse my tone, but why the fuck does modern software have to keep getting shitty all the god damn time? Can engineers please start focusing on software that works incredibly well, and keep it that way? I know they exist, but it seems like it's getting rarer and rarer. Is it REALLY that hard to have software that works for a historically long time and just avoid steering it into crap? Maybe it justifies the salaries, who knows?

I'm getting so sick of this churn cycle

It has gotten worse in the recent years, i've been using DDG as a default for years now and occasionally resort to the !G bang.

What's more concerning is the blatant rise of SEO-spam even on page one - for technical queries at least (on Google).

Most of the time they're in the format of




To be honest, i didn't bother to take the chance and look what's behind such an URL - but i guess it's some sort of malware or - best case scenario - just ads...

Once you've seen them, it's kinda easy to notice their patterns and avoid them - but it just takes a second where you have your guard down and then... who knows...

I shudder to think what attacks happen to less technically minded people, like my parents. I bet they don't give clicking a result on a Google SERP a second thought...

Aside: I've seen those being mostly from Italy (.it TLD) - not sure if it's because i'm from .de and those are ranked higher because of geolocation...

I once clicked one and got multiple redirects that ended up to some porn/dating site. After refreshing the site (don't ask why...) I landed on some gambling site.

Agreed. Same general thing: I wind up putting search strings in to find specific things that I know exist and Google happily spams me with all sorts of irrelevant garbage. I often have to go crazy with quotes and with lots of extra keywords to finally make all the spam-results go away and find what I was looking for.

It's fine for general search queries but really poor for long tail queries.

Generally its low quality content designed to rank top over high quality articles written by unknown publication.

All the very specific code errors I google have very relevant results but everything more generic is filled with useless marketing junk nowadays.

I notice this effect getting worse every year as well, only the ultra specific queries are still usable nowadays, everything else in the middle got spammed and the results are worthless.

See my reference to my "Rant HN" thread elsewhere in this thread because I couldn't disagree with you more. The more specific my code searches get, the worse the experience becomes. I put in a literal quoted phrase and Google doesn't have the decency to just tell me there are no results, it has to waste my time too by returning pages that don't have ANY of the keywords in the quoted phrase. What kind of search engine is that?

There's also another issue with some of those queries yeah. Due to the way Google is parsing keywords, any search with special characters is basically worthless even with quotes (which does include a lot of code search).

Agree. I can't remember the name but there's a huge media company which basically shares backlinks among its media properties so they almost always show up on the top spot. Even articles better suited to the search query are ranked lower than these popular publications.

That applies to any publishing company. I used to work at a major UK publisher. We launched a site in the entertainment space (very competitive)in 2007, and it was immediately high-ranked, because all the older properties linked to it systematically (i.e. in footers, etc.). I don't think much has changed in this regard, since then.

Its pretty horrible now. I append 'reddit ' to almost every search query.

A less cringy demonstration of Google's problems with monetizing searchies are greek letters.

If you search for delta you have to sift through delta airlines and delta stores before you can read about the letter or the geographic feature.

Same for finding images of the letter iota, no, just a page full of some cryptocoin's logo.

I tie this trend to the recent announcements that free storage for gmail, google photos and drive, is ending. Google offers services that have a recurring cost for free, as time goes by this cost scales linearly, so the pressure to monetize other assets increases every year.

Also, whatever information you're looking for you tend to mostly get products as a response.

The amount of SEO-spam I encounter on my searches has definitely grown a lot.

I'm a bit afraid that this will make it more difficult, if not impossible, to reach good webpages. Personal blogs seem like they're not prioritized anymore. I have to append operators like `site:*.github.io` or `site:reddit.com` to get good results now.

Does anyone have any idea on how we could work on mitigating this degradation of search results?

Creating manually maintained lists of the best resources, blog posts, discord servers, articles, videos, etc. related to a topic seems like a viable solution to me. Some subreddits maintain their own wikis that already achieve this for some topics and so do the awesome-* repos on GitHub, but these are few in number.

I want to see more efforts being poured into this, but see no community actively working on this with goals in sight. Do their exist any that I have missed? Or is anyone interested in creating one? I'd be happy to help!

I switched to DuckDuckGo on a permanent basis for around a year now. What I’ve noticed:

- I find myself doing “!g query” every now and then because I can’t find some very specific things (typically dev-related), but I can find 80-90% of the stuff I want in the first page. - The index takes a long time to update (if I post something on my blog - which uses ddg for site search - it may take up to a week to show up) - Comparatively zero nuisances (although there are so many spam blogs out there with gear reviews that they have pretty much the same effect as search ads)

In general, I’m happy, but I would agree that search, in general, has become worse over the past five years or so, as regardless of what engine I use, I now have to be much more specific about what I want and scroll through one or two pages of results before I find what I need.

Is Google search getting worse or are spammers playing SEO better?

It is, in my opinion, without question, both factors in overdrive mode for sure.

I continue to find Google search immensely valuable and am continuously impressed at how well it performs in finding something I know exists as well as getting me to the right information I don't know. Often I get the answer I need right in auto-complete like when I was recently trying to remember the name of the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence race.

To me it seems they are way better than before. Very often I get my answers immediately without even needing to click on a link.

Not sure but Google could do something to help improve DDG search results.

For sure it's a reason to try something else.

Are there any benchmarks for search?

Yes, I've noticed that also.

Hi OP. Out of curiosity, does any other search engine come up with the Battlefield 1 sales numbers?

None of them surface the specific article (which had the latest and largest number published by EA in it) near the top, some did have it towards the bottom of the results.

In fairness, it's possible google has me so trained to expect the answer either directly on the serps at the top or the first link that I gloss over the rest of the page.

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