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Google critics say ads, spam sites are killing search


Is Google search getting worse? From viral TikTok videos to posts on techie forums, frustrated users appear to think so. 

They are saying that Google’s search results are increasingly filled with paid ads — and argue that spam sites are recovering at pushing themselves up in search results by gaming the corporate’s algorithms.

The final result is that Google’s search is step by step deteriorating, critics say, becoming less helpful and more annoying whilst it stays the first tool greater than 4 billion people use to look the web.

“In case you’ve tried to look for a recipe or product review recently, I don’t have to let you know that Google search results have gone to s—t,” Dmitri Kyle Brereton, a software engineer and author, wrote in a blog post that rocketed to the highest of influential Silicon Valley forum Hacker News in February. “Google is dead.” 

Ads and spam

For instance, imagine someone who works from house is searching for a latest laptop. 

In the event that they go to Google and search “best laptop for working from home,” ads for Microsoft, LG and Capital One take up all the screen. Scroll down past yet one more ad for Dell, and so they’ll reach the primary non-sponsored link to a bizarre website called corporateshields.com. 

Google search results for some queries are overrun with ads.

The article, which is written by a faceless creator named Patricia and is itself overrun with advertisements, appears to have gamed Google’s algorithm by repeating keywords over and once more, including the phrase “laptop” 155 times, “distant work” 14 times and “working from home” 10 times. 

This process — called search engine marketing, or search engine optimisation — can lead to awkward, robotic sentences that repeat key phrases. 

“Working remotely from house is more common than ever before, requiring a high-quality laptop pc,” the article reads. “Their prices range from a whole lot to hundreds. So, how do you discover the very best laptops for distant work?” 

The second, third and fourth Google search results are also no-name sites that use keywords over and once more. While the products on the sites are real, there’s little evidence that the articles are being created by real writers with another goal than to hoard traffic by gaming Google’s system. 

“The primary few non-ad results are search engine optimisation optimized sites crammed with affiliate links and ads,” Brereton, the Google critic, wrote. “To be fair, this may probably be a problem with any search engine, but you’d expect Google to have the option to give you a less gameable algorithm.”

As well as, critics argued that Google is upping the quantity of ads that appear in search results. 

“They’ve dialed [ads] as much as the max recently to squeeze out every last cent before their inevitable collapse,” he said. 

In an announcement to The Post, a Google spokesperson argued that “the standard of Google Search has drastically improved over time.”

“Every 12 months, we make hundreds of improvements to Google, and our testing gives us clear evidence that these changes truly make Search higher for people,” the spokesperson added. “Over the past seven years, we decreased irrelevant results by over 50%.”

Google also said that it’s made improvements to the way it ranks search results, including product reviews, and said that ads haven’t appeared on 80% of search result pages on average over the past 4 years.

Even Brereton admits that Google searches for factual questions — like, for instance, “what was the population of London in 1700” — are “absolutely amazing.”

“They’ve built the very best question-answer system ever,” Brereton told The Post. “But for every part else, like regular web results, that’s where the problem is.”

Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, foresaw problems with promoting once they first created the search engine in 1998 .

“We expect that promoting funded engines like google can be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers,” Page and Brin wrote in a 1998 paper while PhD students at Stanford University, warning of the model’s “mixed incentives.” 

Yet Page and Brin nonetheless began selling ads alongside their search ends in the 12 months 2000 and Google’s ad business has ballooned ever since. Ads across Google’s network — which incorporates YouTube and ad placements on third-party sites — brought in a whopping $54 billion in revenue throughout the first quarter of 2022 alone.

Google Critics say that search engine marketing techniques and ads have made Google search worse. NurPhoto via Getty Images


Some frustrated Google users have found a way around spotty results: adding “Reddit” to the tip of their searches. 

The favored forum’s name often crops up within the Google search suggestion box — and a TikTok video concerning the trend racked up greater than 100,000 likes in April. 

“That’s the one strategy to avoid trying to seek out the reply in a blog post stuffed with ads,” the highest comment on the video reads. 

“I assumed I used to be weird for doing this,” one other top commenter said. “I didn’t know so many others did it.” 

RedditSome users say adding “Reddit” to the tip of their Google searches helps them recover results. SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

“It literally gives higher answers than google,” a 3rd said. 

Brereton argues that adding “Reddit” to searches helps filter out “fake” parts of the web, akin to spam sites. Google searches that include the word also often have fewer ads.

“The search engine optimisation marketers gaming their strategy to the highest of each Google search result might as well be robots,” he wrote. “All the pieces is commercialized. Someone’s all the time attempting to sell you something. Whether or not they’re a bot or human, they’re decidedly fake.” 

And while Reddit posts might lie, people can a minimum of reasonably assume they arrive from real people. 

“How can we regain authenticity?” Brereton wrote. “You append ‘reddit’ to your query.” 

Reached for comment, Reddit spokesperson Courtney Geesey-Dorr declined to comment on Google but said that Reddit has upgraded search options by itself site. 

Asked about potential Google alternatives, Brereton told The Post that Bing and DuckDuckGo suffer from most of the same problems as Google, akin to algorithm-gaming spam and ads. He said probably the most exciting latest alternatives are sites called Neeva, Brave and You.com.

But Google’s vice-like grip on the search market makes it difficult for a competitor to emerge, he added.

“The choice can’t just be two times higher, it must be so significantly better that it’s well worth the inconvenience of switching,” Brereton told The Post.

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