There has been -- what I consider to be -- a ridiculous amount of hullabaloo recently over the authenticity and quality of Google's search results. As I've read into the claims of Google's results deteriorating -- and initially being inclined to agree with some far-sighted sentiments of social search being the future of search -- I've ultimately been left scratching my head and asking myself, "really?"
Personally, I fall into the Gil Reich camp where this issue is concerned -- in that, I've yet to personally experience what the Google doomsayers are talking about.
All I have to offer is the same thing the complainers have to offer: Personal experience. But let it be known that anyone who really knows me, knows to what extent I have my head buried in Google's results. I'm one of those Google hackers who can find damn-near anything I set out to find. If it's out there in Google's index and I'm looking for it, I'll find it. The grab there is the extent to which I have to specify certain searches to return results I'm looking for -- but the ability to do just that is a value-added component to Google that I've yet to find elsewhere. Sometimes, it's simple. Other times, I have to take anywhere from a day to a month thinking on and formulating an advanced search query (or set of queries) that will yield the information I'm seeking. That, or they will let me know that what I'm looking for is definitely not in the index.
Because of that, maybe I'm not the best person to chime in on Google results for searches based on everyman search queries. More on that in a bit, but here's an example of a very common type of search query for me: site:edu intitle:"c++" filetype:pptx At the end of the day, I will be one of the first to say that Google has a long way to go as a search engine... but is there really a set destination for them to be going? In the spirit of change and growth, I don't think there is and I'm honestly still waiting on the revelation we're all supposed to have on the other side of the "Google-is-really-losing-it" posts.
In my humble opinion, Google is an ever-changing entity that is constantly shifting and drifting through the truly relentless demands of human beings seeking to quench their insatiable thirst for information. Think you can do better? Let's see you try! In the mean time, Google's doing what it can to maintain an index rife with great results while simultaneously fighting off those who try to pilfer the coveted top-rank positions. In part, I believe Google has created their own spam issues, but I view those issues as the unavoidable component of a system that currently yields many more positives than negatives. At that, just how many systems involving so much complexity do *you* know of that are immune to fallacy, exploitation, or degradation? And even if you can think of a such a system, there's most likely a Stuxnet possible for that.
So, is Google getting better or worse with age? Until I see some hard data that shows true degradation of results traversing the countless keywords/phrases across countless industries/markets/niches, I'll be happy to read personal experiences and reflect upon them, but they won't sway me unless they become innumerable. In the mean time, why not add the official Google Blog to your bookmarks/rss feed? One subject wholly pertaining to this very topic that you may be interested in delving further into can be found there: Search Quality.
Regardless of how you feel about Google writing about Google, the insight you stand to gain from such posts of theirs is undeniable. Now, I'm not writing this post to proclaim my undying love for an infallible Google. Nor am I saying that the individuals complaining have no merit to their personal observations/experiences. I just think it's a bit dramatic to leap straight into the deep end that is the theory of Google's results having taken the very same leap -- into the deep end. And although I utilize Google in a much more advanced way than I dare say most do, I still have my days where I search for "Audrina Patridge photos" "Albert Einstein's biography" or "how to cook wild rice" and the results are always right on-point for me.
Perhaps I'm a rare case where Google's results are concerned, but I don't honestly believe that. Not at this juncture, at least. To close, I'd like to point out just how easy it has become to look at Google as a verb and as a site we take for granted to look up everything from the quickest way to fold a shirt to seeking answers to the questions that plague us all as humans. But don't let that simple, facile perception of Google lead you astray from the true marvel that Google is.
While Google is in the business of making money, they are also in the business of garnering and maintaining the best results they can. If the quality of their search engine results is sinking, you can just about bet the farm they're doing everything they can to alleviate it. Why? Because they stand to lose A LOT OF MONEY if they don't! No, they don't always succeed in returning the best results for any particular query, but they are fighting a war against my spammy counterparts and that's where I believe the real problem mostly lies; not in their algorithms, but in those seeking to exploit them.
As for where I stand as a Google user, I think they're only getting better with age... but that's just me. :) What do you think? Have you personally seen a noticeable decline in the quality of results for your searches or have your search results been status quo ante? Let me know via the comments section below!