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|Why internet search does not work anymore||| Print ||
|Written by Wanda NL|
We spend more time surfing the internet than we do on watching television.
So companies are going to spend their marketing budget accordingly.
Euros spend on internet advertisement will soon surpass those spend on
the good old television commercials. This shift transforms the internet search companies into the new Rupert Murdochs. The plain search
result is no longer the primary target.
The big players will try to keep consumers satisfied, but the intention to deliver the best answer to your question is definitely lost. Maybe Google, Live, Yahoo and the others still believe they can give you the best result. But everyone who is understanding the impact of these big new-media players, will try to modify their search results. And that includes you, the user!
Multiplication instead of creationWhen the internet started, most content was unique. Without server side scripting it was hard to process data on the net and present it in a different way. While doing web 2.0, we are digging up a big pile of e-dirt and bury the less and less available original content with it. Dirt automatically generated and dirt driven by the end user.
Product searchThe worst results you can get are presented when you start searching for products. Take the example that you search for a type-number of a DVD-player. What is it that you want to find? I would say tech specs, a good review and the best price to get it. Do you want it second hand? Maybe, but if you do, you probably go to your local second hand website, or try eBay directly. But search engines give you the idea that you want second hand in the first place! Although we love recycling, we are discussing internet search results here.
eBay and the like, generate clever html pages for all products their users sell. Search robots index these pages and keep them (longer than needed) in their archives. Clicking on a second hand link most certainly brings you to an outdated offer. eBay is not interested in providing search engines with useful information for its customers. It is interested in luring you into their shop and spend money. The more pages they can have indexed, the more visits they get.
Price comparing websites are even worse than auction sites and online marketplaces. In many cases they occupy 5 or more results on the first page. If they would lead you to a good price for the product, the result might be relevant. But the same problem arises. Their automatically generated pile of documents contains outdated offers, gives wrong numbers on availability, and especially in Europe, never gives a correct price including shipment to your place. And if a customer needs the best price, I hope he knows the best website for comparing prices already. If not, he would search for "compare prices". He would never search for the product name and number itself!
SEO (Search engine optimising)No matter how smart the engineers at Google and the like are, they are always outsmarted by the collective. If they decide to put less value on page rank and more on page trust, SEO companies will adapt to these modifications of search algorithms. And if you have money to spend, you can always buy users to promote your website with real clicks. Even the content of respected sources like Wikipedia can be altered to serve your marketing strategy. The buck will always win.
Put the keyword "SEO" in Google, Yahoo or Live. >100.000.000 results! Did you have any idea how big this is nowadays? The stupid thing is that with the perfect search engine, SEO would be non existent. Being human, you can see if a search result is crap within a second. Yet crawling robots for Yahoo, Google and Live are fooled every second! But they let it happen. Why? It is big business.
With a TiVo you can watch television without seeing commercials. Even a regular TV can easily be zapped to another channel if the commercial message annoys you. But on the net, advertising is more persistent interwoven with the content. With DRM like techniques getting incorporated into Flash and movie players, ignoring adds becomes harder for the user. Which bring us to the main reason for moving advertising money from the TV to your desktop.
You, the web 2.0 userDo you feel search results become less relevant? You, the Web 2.0 user, are also responsible for it. The hardest thing to do on the internet is to generate decent content. It is easier to write a review about the content made by someone else. But the easiest is to click on a button to state you like what someone else wrote. And the lousiest is to only vote for a comment on the original content. And with your commenting and voting, you try to become the most popular news junkie in your voting community. Your profile gets a higher score than the content you vote on.
Did you ever check an article on a website like Digg? Did you get to the original content immediately? Or did it link to a blog referring to the original article? Or to a blog linking to aother blog linking to the original research?
With databases and server side scripting, it is very easy to blur the original content with a thick layer of automatically generated pages with reviews, comments and votes. They all get indexed, and fill up search engines with less relevant data. Which leads to less relevant search results. And since a digger or a del.icio.user is not like the dust catching librarian who made university libraries searchable in the past centuries, we have lost some objectiveness in indexing our information.
User driven journalism is one of the nicest examples of what currently happens in Web 2.0. Respected institutes like the New York Times and the BBC are puzzling how this is going to affect their business. About what popular vote does with trusted sources. User based journalism deserves its place and is here to stay. But we have to admit that it is blurring our searches.
What is next?Google is focussing more on extending its product range, than it is on making their core product better. Most other search companies behave similar. But if they all fail to improve the quality of their core business, some one else will stand up and fill the gap they leave untouched. If Microsoft and Yahoo want to battle Google, they should make a search engine that renders Google obsolete! Microsoft even has the option to remove dependance on advertisement from Live search completely. Internet search is no core business for Microsoft.
But maybe the solution comes from a new player, or from a total different approach. Give CustomizeGoogle a try and you might get an idea of the next step in searching. It hides ads, uses a personal blacklist to remove the most annoying search results and takes care of your privacy.
In the end you are the only one who knows what you like to find.
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