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Google results quality declining

I am a long time fan of Google. I use it a lot, every day.

It is obvious to me that the quality of the search results has suddenly declined a lot about 2-3 months ago. Also, the number of search results has gone down.

Let's say I research a more obscure subject. If I use Google, I get very few hits. If I use http://www.alltheweb.com/ , I get a lot more results.

This happened several times.

Also, it is clear to me that the Google results are not as high quality as they used to be.

Today I made several searching experiments and decided that from now on I shall go with http://www.AllTheWeb.com , even if they have been purchased by Overture, which I don't like.

One other problem is that I don't like the design of AllTheWeb - too many colors, whereas Google is simple and elegant.

But - if AllTheWeb gives me better and more results, I shall switch.

I wonder if Google will ever recover - I sure hope so!

John K.
Thursday, June 19, 2003

Ah, one more thing - I have just compared Google with AllTheWeb again.

The top 20 or so results from Google and AllTheWeb seem to be relatively the same.

Google has a few more garbage sites at the top of the search results.

Google used to be bigger than AllTheWeb, but now it seems (by the search results) that AllTheWeb is again bigger than Google?

I haven't read Search Engine Watch for about an year, and I don't know!

John K.
Thursday, June 19, 2003

There's been a lot of talk about this recently in the search community. Google recently changed their search algorithms and it seems to have reduced the quality of their results noticeably.

Nevertheless, fewer results doesn't necessarily mean a poorer search engine. If those results are the ones you are looking for, this is what you *want* to happen :-)

Taka
Thursday, June 19, 2003

Actually I've noticed that the *quality* of Google's results have dropped - it's harder for me to find relevant results when searching google. Until a few months ago, Google was like magic - type in a few words and if was on the web you got a link.
When they made the change it was like I was back on one of the older search engines - each search is usually an effort, trying various combinations of words to find what I'm looking for.

I think Google let their hubris get the best of them - they didn't like the idea of someone outside their office controlling (however minutely and benignly) their results, so they did a knee-jerk change, and threw out the baby with the bathwater.

MHO only, of course.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, June 19, 2003

Two external factors have combined to radically change Google's effectiveness IMO: the mass-adoption of blogging and the "Google Bomb". They will take time to adjust to figure out how to counteract these changes (one innocent, one not). Whether they survive the change is another question entirely...

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Thursday, June 19, 2003

In a universe of billions of web pages, with billions of possible searches, and a billion factorial possible results of each search, the chance that your personal perception of better/worse quality from google searches has any statistical significance whatsoever is immeasurably inconsequent.

Hopefully this thread won't turn into 500 postings of the "I searched for X and it did(n't) find it" nature. That would be too tedious for words!

Joel Spolsky
Thursday, June 19, 2003

Point taken, Joel, but how can you explain that I do probably hundreds of searches a week, and for months it was "Google rocks, works great" then within a week's time (and before I even heard about their changing the search algorithms) I felt that "Google's changed something, they're not as good as they used to be"?

I'm not talking individual searches, I'm talking a general feeling over LOTS of use.

It's easily as scientific as your basis for the design of this board...

Philo

Philo
Thursday, June 19, 2003

>>> In a universe of billions of web pages, with billions of possible searches, and a billion factorial possible results of each search, the chance that your personal perception of better/worse quality from google searches has any statistical significance whatsoever is immeasurably inconsequent. <<<

Oh darn. And I was just dragging myself out of that mind-numbing depression ;-)

Spam
Friday, June 20, 2003

Lazlo's Chinese Relativity Axiom: No matter how great your triumphs or how tragic your defeats -- approximately one billion Chinese couldn't care less.

Philo
Friday, June 20, 2003

I wonder if this is due to a decrease in Google's search algorithim, or is due to the increase in the number of pages that Google indexes?

Consider function G(x) that matches text string x with a set of URLs, U.  It's like a hash function.  Back in the day, the short hash key "x" returned a reasonable set U with relatively few collisions, but now the hashtable is getting full ... and an algorithm that may work well with one billion pages indexes might show strain with two billion pages.

Google has probably already indexed most of the top-tier pages, so it is reasonable to assume that the "junk ratio" of newly indexed pages is rather high ... so it would seem that, on average, the more pages that get indexed, the lower overall quality of the average page ... this decreased signal-to-noise is likely what is causing problems ...

Alyosha`
Friday, June 20, 2003

Google's quality has indeed degraded as a result of a major change in their search algorithms implemented a month or so ago. This has been confirmed by Google itself on the Google forum:
http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum3/

Google says that spam filters will be reapplied over time and search results should end up even better in the long run. There were thousands of posts of very unhappy web masters. While this is happening, guestbook and cross-link spammers are having a great time.

Jan Derk
Friday, June 20, 2003

I love webmaster world.

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, June 20, 2003

Can you post the exact URL on Webmasterworld?

R C
Friday, June 20, 2003

> In a universe of billions of web pages, with billions of
> possible searches, and a billion factorial possible results
> of each search, the chance that your personal perception
> of better/worse quality from google searches has any
> statistical significance whatsoever is immeasurably
> inconsequent.

Joel, I am the local search guru in my local comunity of programmers. Many people come to me and ask me to find them something which they couldn't find themselves, and I usually find them what they want.

I know Google very well, including special syntaxes very few people know.

My opinion as an advanced Google use is that the quality has dropped A LOT!

Also the number of results has gone down, for obscure topics. This is BAD!


> I wonder if this is due to a decrease in Google's search
> algorithim, or is due to the increase in the number of
> pages that Google indexes?

Nope. I think that they index a lot less pages that before.


My worst fear is this:

The Google company may have problems (financial / technical ?) so they scale down their operation, in order to use less hardware and resources.

Then, they don't say they have problems and are running half the machines they used to run, but just that they tweaked their search algorithm.

I strongly hope that they recover.

The Google search engine was so good before, that I'd be willing to pay $15 per month to have access to it.

John K.
Friday, June 20, 2003

John K., do you have numbers behind what you're saying?

Spam
Friday, June 20, 2003

Ok, so google is turning into shit,
probably some managment guy thinks that google is
the undisputed leader, so there is not point in investing
into improvement of the core engine.

Well, i duess it did happen before.

Does anyobody know what is the next google?

anybody looked at altavista recently (i got the impression that they are getting better).

Any other ideas for a google killer? (in terms of plain old web searches, not this image search/newsnet search/news search thing they have been adding in order to keep existing customers)

Michael Moser
Friday, June 20, 2003

"probably some managment guy thinks that google is
the undisputed leader, so there is not point in investing
into improvement of the core engine."

That's not the case at all. If you knew anything about the way the company worked, you'd know that. The question isn't whether they're being lazy, it's whether their algorithm can adapt to the changing face of the web with reasonable nimbleness.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Friday, June 20, 2003

Sorry Joel, but like a lot of people here, I've used Google for years and have had always had good results. However, over the past few months I've noticed a distinct change in the quality of the links.

Prior to about 3 months ago, I normally found something useful in the first 1-5 links. Now I may have to search the entire page before finding what I was really after.

Can I mathematically represent that change? Not really.

Can I say that something has changed in their search? Yup. I sure can.

Mark Hoffman
Friday, June 20, 2003

One of the ways we humans achieve approximate statistical significance without spending the money, time, and effort required for a proper survey is to metion to a group of friends, or post on a chat board, that "I've noticed XXX; am I losing my mind?".  Then, our friends (or participants of the board) come in and say "Yes, I've noticed that too!" or else they come back and say "I haven't seen any difference."  A lot of the time, we end up with the wrong conclusion (see superstitions), but more often than not, the collective experience leads us to a fuller understanding of the world.

Foolish Jordan
Monday, June 23, 2003

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