Tag: search (page 1 of 2)

Perhaps switch to another search engine?

I use a lot of Google products. I’m typing this on a laptop on which I’ve installed ChromeOS Flex, I use Google Workspace at work, I’ve got a Google Assistant device in every room of our house, and now even my car has an infotainment system with it built in.

But I do take some precautions. I don’t use Google Search. I turn off my web history, watching history on YouTube, opt out of personalisation, and encrypt my Chrome browser sync with a password.

This article doesn’t surprise me, because Google’s core business is advertising. It’s still creepy though.

There have long been suspicions that the search giant manipulates ad prices, and now it’s clear that Google treats consumers with the same disdain. The “10 blue links,” or organic results, which Google has always claimed to be sacrosanct, are just another vector for Google greediness, camouflaged in the company’s kindergarten colors.

Google likely alters queries billions of times a day in trillions of different variations. Here’s how it works. Say you search for “children’s clothing.” Google converts it, without your knowledge, to a search for “NIKOLAI-brand kidswear,” making a behind-the-scenes substitution of your actual query with a different query that just happens to generate more money for the company, and will generate results you weren’t searching for at all. It’s not possible for you to opt out of the substitution. If you don’t get the results you want, and you try to refine your query, you are wasting your time. This is a twisted shopping mall you can’t escape.

Why would Google want to do this? First, the generated results to the latter query are more likely to be shopping-oriented, triggering your subsequent behavior much like the candy display at a grocery store’s checkout. Second, that latter query will automatically generate the keyword ads placed on the search engine results page by stores like TJ Maxx, which pay Google every time you click on them. In short, it’s a guaranteed way to line Google’s pockets.

Source: How Google Alters Search Queries to Get at Your Wallet | WIRED

The declining relevance of Google search

I can’t remember the last time I searched Google. It’s been around six years since I used DuckDuckGo as my main search engine. Which is weird, because people use ‘google’ for searching the web as they do ‘hoover’ for vacuuming cleaning.

This article explores Google’s history and its impact on SEO, content creation. it’s written by Ryan Broderick, author of Garbage Day, a newsletter to which I subscribe. He charts the rise of alternative platforms like Meta’s Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, and suggests that Google’s era of influence may be waning.

There is a growing chorus of complaints that Google is not as accurate, as competent, as dedicated to search as it once was. The rise of massive closed algorithmic social networks like Meta’s Facebook and Instagram began eating the web in the 2010s. More recently, there’s been a shift to entertainment-based video feeds like TikTok — which is now being used as a primary search engine by a new generation of internet users.

For two decades, Google Search was the largely invisible force that determined the ebb and flow of online content. Now, for the first time since Google’s launch, a world without it at the center actually seems possible. We’re clearly at the end of one era and at the threshold of another. But to understand where we’re headed, we have to look back at how it all started.


Twenty-five years ago, at the dawn of a different internet age, another search engine began to struggle with similar issues. It was considered the top of the heap, praised for its sophisticated technology, and then suddenly faced an existential threat. A young company created a new way of finding content.

Instead of trying to make its core product better, fixing the issues its users had, the company, instead, became more of a portal, weighted down by bloated services that worked less and less well. The company’s CEO admitted in 2002 that it “tried to become a portal too late in the game, and lost focus” and told Wired at the time that it was going to try and double back and focus on search again. But it never regained the lead.

That company was AltaVista.

Source: How Google made the world go viral | The Verge

Social-first searching

I don’t see this as such a weird thing, especially when it comes to food. For example, my wife follows lots of local places on Instagram and will research new places using that app when we travel. I tend to use Google Maps for that kind of thing. Neither of us would start with a regular web search, because context is important.

Even back prior to 2010, I can remember Drew Buddie doing a TeachMeet presentation on ‘Twitter is my Google’. The point is that humans are social creatures. We want recommendations and to see what we could be potentially missing out on…

Nearly 40% of Gen Z prefers searching on TikTok and Instagram over Google Search and Maps, according to Google’s internal data first reported by TechCrunch.

Google confirmed this statistic to Insider, saying, “we face robust competition from an array of sources, including general and specialized search engines, as well as dedicated apps.”

Source: Nearly Half of Gen Z Prefers TikTok and Instagram Over Google Search | Business Insider