It feels like the philosophy has become "return lots of results at any cost".
For instance I just now searched for a specific e-mail address that ends with "@hotmail.co.jp" -- since it didn't find any hits with the full address, it decided to strike out the username part and return thousands of results for just "hotmail.co.jp". This is literally useless and they should know better.
It just gets worse and worse for technical searches too, I find. Searching for stuff like datasheets for chips and vintage obscure computer programs and peripherals rarely returns anything useful without "wrapping" "everything" "in" "quotes".
Yeah, I used to have verbatim mode as a separate and default search provider in Firefox, but I had to stop using it as my default -- I find sometimes it's just too verbatim and it's like using Altavista in 1996 all over again.
I feel like Google a few years ago had struck a decent balance between trying to be smart (sometimes automatically including synonyms to your search terms, etc.) while still respecting your actual search terms. Now it's way too far gone in the "assume user is a total idiot and doesn't know what he wants" direction.
Yes Good Point - I've noticed many more missing terms in the past few weeks. Extremely irritating - Problem is Verbatim mode is buried and cannot be defaulted and does not work with Time Filter, Time Filter is often essential for useful searches.
More control for advanced users is settings is required, Mobile first layout still annoys me on Safari iPad, so much so that, I have to iCab Browser - lets you change the user agent and lots of useful options such as Text Sizes
Google stupidly eliminated the + operator, which used to require the presence of words marked with it. Their excuse was that it somehow "interfered" with Google Plus. Now that Google Plus is defunct, do you think they'll restore it? HA HA no.
So now we're stuck with prefixing searches with "allintext:" and then quoting everything.
What really, really bugs me is what they did with the image search at some point.
I always used image search to try and find the original source of an Image. It's super useful to determine the authenticity of a news article, identify the author of a photo for licensing and a million other uses.
Then at some point, search by image started to simply return results based on the image classification tag on the image: so instead of similar images, or other instances of a photo, I get results like "beach" or "bicycle" or "city". This is so frustrating and completely useless. I'm sure anyone is capable of typing "mountain" in the search field to find generic photos os mountains.
So that got me back to tineye.com - I just with they had a larger coverage of the web =[
I see that particular un-feature as a consequence of undue focus on ML that automatically generates image tags. While it's impressive for a system to be able to auto-tag billions of images at high accuracy, these generic tags are almost always useless as search terms.
I've also noticed this and this is a big loss of utility.
There aren't many tools that find exact/slightly transformed matches of an image. That was very valuable, especially with the power of Google's webcrawling. Imaged get shared, stretched, watermarked, and artifacts build up. This was the single best way to find a source image.
Now the image is converted back into text and it searches for images using the text. We could search for images using text before. This is not new. The unique thing about reverse image search was killed and turned into just a fancy input for the same old image search.
It's frustrating in its simplicity. I don't need 5 more versions of the same track. They're showing far fewer of the same genre and era but a lot more conspiracy theory garbage that I will never, ever intentionally click, yet their algo has never noticed the total lack of clicks on those "Proof of alien life", "brexit is great" or "lizards are running the show really" videos.
"recommended for you", yeah right. How do they arrive here from say 1 from CGP Grey, 2 from ACDC and 1 from Iron Maiden?
Last.fm used to have my music taste well nailed and followed up with a lot of unknown stuff that I ended up loving and buying. YT had more data for longer yet has no clue at all. Now I just search and play direct from DDG.
YT never worked that well for me, but now it's rarely worth even checking the other videos column.
Youtube search quality is horribly bad in recent weeks. I'm being suggested videos that are minimum 2 years older continously in the home page. There are more recent videos from the same channels, but all I see is 2-3 year old video suggestions as if my phone/computer clock is reset to a date few years back. I'm not even sure if they are running some kind of experiment or is it a bug.
I’ve noticed that as well. Also noticed that sometimes I’ll watch a video and if I watch it again the timestamp it resumes at is somewhere near the beginning liked I’d only watched a few seconds. Perhaps a problem with the system that keeps track of how much you’ve watched or not is breaking other things.
Searching for stuff you've already seen is reasonable. But reccomendation really needs to have a simple partition into two categories: watched and not watched. Both are valid but they are very different use cases.
Also they need to stop reccomending flat earth, anti-vax and other toxic nonsense without prompting.
It seems dramatically better. I think the reality is that this is only relative to Google today, not Google long ago. Lots of us have been like the mythical frog in the slowly-heated pot, failing to notice that Google is getting worse. For business reasons, or because executives have an agenda, Google now refuses to prioritize what users want.
As pointed out by the other commenters you need a slightly different approach to search terms since they don't build a profile of what is and isn't relevant to you.
That said, it's definitely a lot better than a few years ago. I'm the same in having tried it back then and I couldn't get many useful results. I've been using it for half a year again now and only occasionally do I use the "!g"-bang to revert to a Google search.
It's OK. It works well for me for common things that are easy to find. Restaurants, wiki entries, etc. But for example a new paper published today in Nature? Even searching for the whole title in quotes with DDG will not return it. Gotta go to Google for that.
It requires a bit time to get used to it but not more than couple of days I think. The interface is quite similar to what google provides and I quite liked seeing the answer I am looking for as a part of the search.
I had a similar experience with youtube lately:
I was looking for a song that I knew the tune and a related artist and for the love of god could not find it with the current youtube recommendations. Most of the videos I'd get recommended when searching related songs, were not even music-related.
So I went to archive.org and within a couple of results found what I was looking for.
Youtube's recommendation has really changed for the worse.
its even worse with youtube - if I leave the TV, it will continue playing videos youtube considers somehow related to original one. But it often forgets what it already played in a row, so sometimes plays the same video multiple times. Like 1 2 3 4 2 5 1 6 5 3 etc.
A few months ago I found that if I played music on YouTube and let it go on autoplay, it would eventually play a specific song. It’ll play something else next as per usual, but the Up Next for this video would almost always be that same specific song. I can’t fathom how this worked so well for years and is now totally broken. Or how the algorithm chokes as soon as it reaches that one specific video.
The "must include" functionality makes zero sense to me and I'm dumbfounded as to why it was ever added. If I didn't want my results to include a particular word, I wouldn't have included it in the search. Boggles my mind how Google could mess up something so simple.
I'm dumbfounded as to how you don't see the usefulness of this feature. Sometimes there exists more than one word for a situation, and you might miss a forum thread, for example, that is relevant to you, but you're saying to Google "only use these exact words" and not accounting for differences in dialect etc
It's totally correct that often we want search results that don't include the exact word which was specified in the search request. We often want close synonyms, stems, elimination of redundant words etc. and flexibility on this helps to retrieve much better search results.
On the other hand, Google has a particularly frustrating habit of dropping words which are absolutely key to a particular search. You know, those cases where you are searching for details about a very specific set of explicit keywords, and 90% of the results exclude one of them, making them totally useless.
It's like an "uncanny valley" in some ways. When it says "You probably don't need the word 'and' in your search, and also 'video games' is the same as 'computer games' so I'll just include both" then the process makes sense, feels helpful, and indeed you probably don't notice. When you search for two explicit technologies and one of them is ignored, it feels like you're fighting a system that's trying to second-guess what you mean.
Ultimately the search engine is tuned for common queries, and the majority of users aren't likely to have the required technical skill to express exactly what they want to find without some help. This results in mismatch between the expectations of different users.
Verbatim search helps with this, in that it allows advanced users to better control their results. I'd be super happy if I could just toggle this "on" all the time.
I search for "suicide" (for my work) very often. It _fucking sucks_ that Google seems to think "death", "died", "murdered" etc are all valid synonyms. It means that for every single search I do I need to do extra work.
Actually I think it's useful to google whole questions - for forum thread titles. The problem of course is that Google does not search for the whole thing and wrapping it in quotes makes it useless as well.
Asterisks within quotes still seem to work. I use those when I have a good idea of what string I’m looking for but I’m not sure about some words or want to find posts where someone (for whatever weird reason) apparently typed in or pasted an error in chunks.
Search engines - Google amongst them - are moving from using the search term as (possibly stemmed) literal words to search for to attempting to interpret the 'meaning' of the term. This interpretation can be somewhat... lacking, with the observed result of nonsensical answers.
They have definitely messed up in many ways, but having a must-include operator was not one of the ways.
It allows (allowed?) you to tell the search that the other words can be used for ranking and are nice-to-have words, while the must-include words are treated differently and must be present and match exactly.
If all search terms were automatically must-include with no override, search results would be garbage because as a user you aren’t going to predict the perfect inflected forms of words used in documents every time.
Being dumbfounded should not lead you to think other people are wrong. It should lead you to wonder what you are missing.
The final straw for me is that it now "helpfully" drops
search terms on my behalf. I was already using DDG for a third
of my searches. I'm going all-in now. For people who don't spend
much time online, maybe what Google is doing works for them.
It seems only a matter of time until Google is just an interactive yellow pages. Why would you spend millions trying to index peoples personal blogs etc. when companies will pay thousands for the spot in the results and give you the link to put up? All they need to do is maintain their position as the default internet portal.
I think Google is focusing on the friendlier natural “human” queries. I noticed this some time ago when I’d ask it in a “lazy” way because I’m tired or distracted. E.g. “What day is Mother’s Day?”, or “What time is it in London?” I’ve noticed it seems to be more and more optimized for this sort of query as time goes on, to the point that I use the quote modifiers in many (most?) of my searches and the other modifiers more frequently than I used to.
I suspect that the people who’ve noticed this and feel frustrated have, like me, been searching on Google since back when it was on its way to unseating Altavista/Yahoo/etc (or maybe somewhere between). But I don’t hold it against Google because they’re optimizing for the widest possible audience and if it makes it easier for most people I’m ok with being a little inconvenienced. As long as adding quotes or other modifiers kicks in the old/advanced search I’m ok with that price for something I not only don’t pay for, but don’t click on the ads for either.
It feels like maybe Google had a changing of the guard and a new batch of engineers are making decisions and missed out on a transfer of knowledge from the previous engineers with both search and SEO.
I'm seeing my search results show less and less of what I'm looking for, it's like google search is forgetting how it used to work.
The same with SEO, I'm seeing sites ranking again on the first page that have useless content using all the tricks/ghosts of SEO past. It seems all the legacy SEO hacks/tricks filters that had been in place at Google have been removed recently.
I was a huge fan of Google, but I'm definitely seeing a decline in quality of the SERP.
Don’t forget that the web is changing. There is more junk produced every day and Google needs to combat search engine spam and blackhat practices. This means changes and not seeing search results you are used to.
Double True, but I'm expecting to start seeing thousands of keywords in the footer of sites white text on a white background. It's like SEO is coming full circle. Just surprised Google is allowing ancient SEO tricks to work again.
A good solution to all this $search_engine misery is to use something like Searx  as an in-between. This gets rid of most of the profiling - especially when using a shared instance run by someone you trust (to avoid being profiled by the Searx instance, self-host and have family members and friends use it) - and gives results from a whole host of search engines. Configure all your devices to use that instance and you no longer have to cope with any single $search_engine's 'new and improved' algorithms, instead being treated to a search salad with ingredients of your own choosing.
I have the same feeling, I have to click "must include keyword..." to get better results. I thought it was because I use google.co.jp since I moved to Japan a few weeks ago, so I was guessing Google tried too hard to correlate the results with my new geographical area. It seems I'm not the only one.
Actually not 'worse' as such, but search results are more centered around earnings, rather than around providing information.
You can't blame them for that, but by shifting focus they can expect a shift in public too.
I agree. Google has consistently gotten worse imo - I believe the general move towards third-party 'trust' verifiers, and Google's obsession with 'relevance' (as in, relevance to me) has destroyed the entire point of a search engine. I rarely use Google these days except to quickly re-find something I discovered somewhere else. I never really use it for finding information these days - just getting a link to something I already know exists. If I had a better way to search my bookmarks, I'd probably use that instead.
Similar. I can't quantify, but I seem to be getting less useful results, certainly on the first page, and often beyond. I'm not sure it's not just perception though because I've not kept any log and it's also possible there are genuinely no matches to the searches I've been doing.
This question has been on my mind too and I'm glad someone thought of asking on HN.
Google has been returning really obvious results that one expects to get based on search history, other internet usage, etc (much like Netflix's matching). So much so that in order to find really unexpected gems of info I need to really spend a great amount of time searching a lot of different websites (hacker news, reddit, linkedin, corporate affairs data, marketplaces, truecaller, etc etc).
I feel like we need a new search engine now that there are so many different types of search results (blogs / media, aggregators / marketplaces, directories, social profiles, company websites, etc). One that lets us take more control over the type of results one can expect and more importantly one that doesn't show you what you expect to see (after being heavily influenced by your previous activities).
Also, Google may have millions of results for every keyword, but the quality of those links deteriorates quite fast, post 3rd page results are just crap.
I genuinely believe that Google worked and innovated when other search cos were wasting users' time by not rendering results quickly, but today we need something that better suits the complexity of the web and doesn't heavily rely on usage histories, etc.
Just search using "". For me it didn't change, as the way I search by using "", + etc since I started googling didn't change and it is even obvious in some ways that maybe I could just ddg all the way.
I have had the same feeling for months and not limited to Google, sadly DDG suffers from the same. Search result quality has been getting worse and my search queries contain more and more quotes just to get back to a previous level. What I miss is a tick box for "power users" to disable spelling suggestions, search terms omission and similar "features".
It's just worse in different ways (and better in different ways as well). As Google's index grows it shards across more machines. The odds that latency will affect the result of a particular query increase simply because more machines and network connections are involved. So there's caching.
Because no one wants to wait forever (delay is indistinguishable from failure), Google returns the best results it can obtain within some time threshold. Unfortunately, the utility of a search term is often its rarity relative to other search terms and the rarity of a search term makes it less likely to be cached nearby. If "nobody ever searches by that term" it is more likely not to be indexed or on a far away partition. Think of adding a Korean character to a string of English search terms : In Korea : In the US.
Google left for another dimension and they needed all their computing power for that, so they resorted to this trick. The results we see are from a NN previously trained on the real google, which is now hosted by a computer in the janitor office.
It definitely did. As a complete outsider (albeit one who has done a bit of contract work at Google a few years ago), it seems that they are going all in on ML-driven personalisation, rather than an "objective best match" approach.
I had an issue this morning where I wanted to download some youtube videos for offline viewing and they were already deleted. I used google to try to find other copies and it found nothing. I used bing and was able to find all copies.
Google search has gotten worse and DuckDuckGo has simultaneously gotten better! I have (again) been using DDG for the past few weeks and I type "!g" once a day at most. Very exciting if this seeming trend holds.
Does anyone have suggestions how to find good tutorials/blogposts? I am interested in startup world, but when I search for things like "how to find startups ideas" I am tackled with lots and lots of content marketing, or poor medium posts.
(I know of firstround search and I think this is the best you can get. I was thinking there should be a website that aggregates articles linked on twitter by people from VC/founders world, but I don't think there is one sadly)
Interestingly enough, I was JUST today thinking to myself, has google auto-suggest been consistently degrading or is it just me?! Now my thinking is there is some over-engineering going on (for lack of better articulation) as type auto-suggest as well as speech-to-text are just plain "off base" + your observation of search results, I'm sure they're all on a common, core "function" ; )
I have encountered this with YouTube which prefers to offer me garbage results back rather than searching all my keywords. E.g I was searching on a react topic and all I got back was 'x reacts to this'. It looks like it weighed the word 'react' much heavier than the others even though the other words were essential to getting a useful result..
pretty much garbage at this point, I honestly don't know what to do anymore. I tried Duck Duck Go and Start Pages but they are not as good. I am testing Yandex, so far it's really good and performs like old Google but I don't know what are the implications of me using Russian search engine :/
No, good as always :) But seriously, yesterday I wanted to deploy my beta to a fresh server install and I did like 10 google searches of various server and tool issues. I got it all resolved and the beta is running but I didn't stop at how bad these results are.
What are you searching for when you see a decrease in quality?
I'm all for global inclusion and community. Except for when learning new, difficult concepts or subjects.
Searching YouTube (via Google) for anything to do with programming, coding, etc. returns videos with only Indian presenters. Being a native English speaker, it would be nice to learn without having to parse through thick accents speaking in British English.
Sorry, but I had to suffer through this in college because universities want discount professors to fit their "multicultural" check box.
Considering who Google's CEO is, this is concerning on a Big Brother level.
Google search superiority is a myth IMHO. If you're a SW engineer, you're better of searching StackOverflow and using an old-school curated list of links for on-topic sites. Basic thinking tells you that Google Search are incentivized to show you pages with the most ads, rather than relevancy. There aren't that many good resources for any given topic anyway; creating a simple search index over those isn't rocket science. Certainly, "searched 130.000.000 sites in 0.13 ms" style info isn't helpful, unless you find Google giving you random crap sites entertaining.
that wasn't even the point of my comment, you're insisting on derailing my argument and reducing it to something I cannot verify, and seriosuly, wtf do you think HN users are? housewives or wall street bankers? HN is an online community for tech workers especially software engineers, insisting on giving the evidence that 99% exactly of the users are software engineers is childish to say the least