Here are reasons, examples and explanations about why the quality of Google search results has been getting progressively worse over time. The main reason involves a conflict of interest between Google’s advertising business and their guidance towards the SEO content optimization industry. What you read below are opinions expressed by many, not necessarily absolute facts, and you can draw your own conclusions.
List of reasons that Google search is getting worse include:
- Conflicts of Interest
- Google Adsense
- Google Adwords
- Google Analytics
- Google SEO guidance
- Biased SERPS favor ad sites
- Promoting click-bait titles
- Encouraging spammy content
Related news about Google search
- Google is updating search algorithm to tackle clickbait
- Google update will target unhelpful SEO spam sites
- Google to prioritize helpful content over clickbait content
- Google is planning to provide better search results
Examples of poor Google search results
Example #1 – Do a search on Google for “driver improvement courses near me”. You’d expect to see search results for local driver improvement schools nearby, but Google search results features a bunch of ads for online driver improvement courses that have nothing to do with a local search as indicated by “near me”. You have to scroll down more than half a page before you see any relevant “organic” local search results.
Example #2 – Search for “what percentage of people have attached earlobes” and the first result is from realonomics.net a page titled “what ethnicity has attached earlobes” which is basically an FAQ farm gaming Google’s FAQ schema. A huge list of “related” questions and answers. One of which is “Interesting facts about Earlobes” where the answer says, “Earlobes are a type of body hair that are typically found on the upper lip and around the nose“.
Example #3 – Search on Google for “list of healthy foods”… the search results are mostly links to sites with bloated spammy content riddled with ads. Wouldn’t it be nice if Google promoted sites that provide good information that’s very user friendly with no intrusive ads? For example check out our post about good lists of healthy foods , for example 🙂 We think it’s a pretty awesome collection of healthy food ideas, but heck, good luck finding it in Google search.
Reasons why Google Search is getting worse
Google was created by two young computer science geeks who wanted to solve a problem. The problem in the early days of the internet was that AOL and Yahoo were dominating search traffic. Everyone relied on them to find content and websites on the internet.
AOL and Yahoo had little competition and their business model was driven by ads, so the quality of their web directories and search results was bad. The founders of Google aimed to solve this by making it easier for internet users to find websites that contained relevant information for which they were searching.
Google did a great job initially creating their search engine. The golden years were probably around 2000-2003 when technology was getting good and cost effective enough to provide a quality user experience. Google ran ads in search results early on but it wasn’t until a few years later the trend of ads ruining search results really took off.
In the early 2000’s, you could do an exact phrase search in quotes like “Google search results are getting worse” and Google search results would show you only results from websites that had that exact phrase in their content. This is no longer the case. The quality of exact match Google search results are poor these days and they have eliminated many of the useful advanced search tools that made it possible to find specific content in websites.
Around 2005 Google started diverging from the founders original business concept and standards upon which the company initially flourished. They became an advertising agency. Why? Because they had to satisfy investors by making more money.
Google search results affected by Adwords & Adsense
Google created two products. Google Adwords is the program they created to sell ads to the highest bidders for search keywords and keyword phrases. They actually bought out another company that developed the keyword bidding software and renamed it Adwords. The second product they began pushing was Google Adsense.
Google Adsense is the program which webmasters and web developers could make money by running Google Ads (from Adwords) on their websites. All they had to do was sign up for Google Adsense then copy and past some code into their sites and Shazam! they start making money every time their website visitors click a Google Ad on their site.
Early on Google would approve anyone with a pulse for Google Adsense. Over the years though, Google has been making it harder and harder to the Adsense advertising for many people. They now make small web developers jump through extra hoops to be approved and often will deny perfectly legitimate and established websites access to their advertising.
Yet somehow Google continues to thrive on their advertising revenue and you see more and more ads being integrated into every type of search result including local search results and FAQ’s answers to questions all before the fold of the quality organic search results (which aren’t that great anymore).
Google’s SEO advice, DoubleClick and Adsense
So how did this all happen where we got to the point that Google search results are getting worse and worse over time? It’s actually a perfect storm involving cost effective technology, internet investment bubble and a some sneaky genius as well.
Early on Google started giving web developers (bloggers) tips and tricks how to make their websites “better” and more “search engine friendly”. A nice guy named Matt Cutts was appointed to be the front man for a Google program to “help” webmasters how to improve SEO for better search results. And so Google created an ever-growing list of what they consider SEO friendly factors for websites that developers should follow.
Well, it’s actually pretty funny because ironically what ended up happening was that Google is the only game in town for internet search and now they are essentially dictating the nature of the content they deem worthy if webmasters and developers want to have any hope of their sites appearing on Google search results. Yes. Google has become the #1 PIMP of webmasters and their content.
As the years have gone by, especially since 2010ish with smartphones, Google has been dictating terms to developers and tweaking things more and more to optimize content for their Advertising program. One of the original and largest contributors to the internet advertising craze was a company called Double Click. They created the largest supply of advertising inventory at the time and they’d take all comers who would pay for ads. So we could say that Google Adsense, Google Adwords, DoubleClick, Matt Cutts, Google webmaster tools, Google search console and Google Analytics have all played significant roles in the ironic deterioration of the quality of search results on Google.
Is Google’s Content Policy Hypocritical?
So here we have these forces that can make or break the success or exposure of many websites that otherwise have very useful information but are ignored by Google if the web developers don’t play ball with Google content policy. Here’s a perfect example…
Google states in their policy that they flag sites they deem to be duplicate content or data that has already been used from a previously detected source. Google blackballs websites from search results if they’ve been given a duplicate content flag.
How Google Harvests Data
It’s ironic that Google penalizes and rejects sites for aggregating data or presenting existing data in a new or better way. Meanwhile, Google has been bugging web developers and bloggers to start using “snippets” code on websites in order to make it easier for Google to harvest data from 3rd parties. They say it’s supposed to help the Google bot better understand the website structure and provide more relevant search results to users.
Google uses these data snippets like reviews, ratings and FAQ’s to harvest or scrape data from the websites and then just show you 3rd party website data in Google search results without ever having to visit the website. And it’s all perfectly legit because if the web developers are being “SEO friendly” they have introduced the snippet codes that have given the Google bot full rights to use the data.
This is why you’ll see information directly in Google search results for weather, answers to questions, stock prices and much more. Google is essentially taking the info from websites and repurposing it for their search results. But why would they do this? Because the more Google can keep you on Google search the more they can expose you to Google ads. So they’ll show you anything they can that does not require users to leave Google and visit the website that has the original information.
Yes, the Google “info pimp” has found yet another way to maximize ad revenue. Each time they tell people how to make their websites more SEO friendly they are creating more and more content whores who are helping Google to print cash. The developers and content creators do the bidding of Google and they will be rewarded handsomely with ad revenue.
Google Analytics – Yet another conflict of interest
Part of being in the Google SEO cult means installing Google Analytics on websites, which “conveniently” integrates with Google webmaster search console tools and Google advertising tools. Google Analytics data from millions of websites worldwide is being served on a silver platter to Google for free. This data collectively is worth billions, if not trillions, because this data is a key component that forms the relationship between Google search, Google Adwords and Google Adsense. It’s part of the magic sauce that helps Google maximize their ad $$$ revenue and promote inferior monetized content vs. superior non-monetized information.
Not to mention that Google Analytics gathers incredibly detailed data about users, including: IP address, geo-location, screen size, device type, operating system, referring websites, click paths through the site, and many more. About the only thing Google Analytics does not gather is the users name & address, although it’s fair to say Google has a pretty good idea on all users age, gender, location and even names. They keep a huge database of profiles just based on user IP addresses. So, yeah, you might say it’s a privacy issue.
Google changes titles & descriptions of websites
In their effort to promote “relevant content” Google takes the liberty of changing the meta titles and meta descriptions of websites and displaying those in their search results. And by “relevant content” we mean websites that are generally geared towards monetized content.
According to Authority Labs, Google changes website titles in their search results over 50% of the time. Approximately 36% of titles are partially changed while about 25% of site titles are completely changed when displayed in Google search results. They change site descriptions even more frequently.
So what’s the problem with Google ads?
What’s happening now (for those paying attention) is that the nature and quality of the content on many websites has actually been getting worse. The classic example we can use is the ever popular mom blogger recipe website. Instead of seeing just the recipe on the web page, you’ll now see a 3000 word essay or silly pointless story before actually getting to the point and showing you the recipe.
Why is this happening you ask? Google SEO policy and Google Advertising! It causes and ever growing competition among bloggers to stuff as much verbal crap with keywords as they can into their content. What you end up with are recipe websites, shopping guide websites and news article headlines with click-bait titles that are littering the internet with horrible bullshit.
Google has become the very problem that they originally intended to solve. Corrupt and inferior information as a result of content fueled by advertising revenue. So maybe Google (aka Alphabet) have more in common with AOL and Yahoo than you think!
Alternatives to Google search?
DuckDuckGo and Bing search maybe doing a better job of showing relevant search results to users than Google, but Google has such a monopoly on internet search market share, Chrome browser and Android OS for smartphones that 90% of users (Google Junkies) stay within the Google ecosystem.
Ways to protect your privacy:
Hopefully there will be another internet search company that provides better search results and they will not simply sell out to Google or Microsoft before they can gain some market share. And remember, if you’re a writer or blogger, write it the way you’d want to read it… not the way you think Google wants you to write it. Don’t be an info-whore for the Google info-pimp!