What happened to Google search?
#happened #Google #search Welcome to Alaska Green Light Blog, here is the new story we have for you today:
Google search was once one of the wonders of the online world. Its clean, organized results pages filtered through the otherwise unmanageable flood of information on the Internet. Until it was stuffed with ads. Now the world’s largest search engine is less an encyclopedia and more a yellow pages.
Search for a keyword that can also be a product — asthma inhalers, for example — and you’ll have to scroll past up to four large ads before you get to non-sponsored results. Search for clothing and the entire front page features businesses hoping to make a sale. Even non-promotional results can look like wrong answers, with links loaded with buzzwords for Google to rank them higher.
Google and its parent company Alphabet are caught in the conundrum faced by all businesses that rely on digital advertising. Place ads high up and watch revenue soar while user experience falls. In recent quarterly results, Google paid search revenue was 2 percent better than expected. But there is a noticeable increase in complaints. In November, the podcast Freakonomics called the search engine a bunch of cheap tricks. A few months earlier, The Atlantic magazine asked if it was dying.
Whining about a free service may seem fruitless. Google search is part of a trillion-dollar digital advertising-powered enterprise. Not to mention the Moonshot business ideas like storing electricity in salt, Google advertising accounted for nearly four-fifths of Alphabet’s revenue last quarter.
The company says its goal is always to provide “useful advertising.” It points out that not every search result contains ads either. But advertising crowding would be tastier if basic services improved noticeably at the same pace. Google’s example of improvement is the fact that search results now include more images. Of course, this also benefits advertisers. Other improvements were appearing more slowly. For example, content behind paywalls is not yet marked as such. It’s also not possible to search for spoken words in a video without a transcript – although a court hearing is underway in India.
When it came out in the late 90’s, Google search was one of many search engines. But Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s PageRank algorithm, which ranked websites based on how often they linked to other sites, meant their search engine was best placed to return relevant results. It quickly became the most popular.
In theory, if service were to decline, users would be pulling up sticks and going elsewhere. But Google search has no real competitors. When was the last time you used the Microsoft search engine Bing or DuckDuckGo? The proliferation of Google’s Chrome browser and the fact that Apple gets paid to be the default search engine gives it a huge advantage. DuckDuckGo also claims that Google’s competitors are struggling because they can’t crawlor visit the same number of websites looking for links.
Will anything change? There is a serious, if slow, challenge from antitrust officials targeting Google’s promotion of its own services. A more immediate threat could come from OpenAI’s Chatbot ChatGPT. There are reports that Microsoft, which is investing in OpenAI, will use it to allow Bing to respond to requests with answers instead of links to websites. But Google’s own AI investment could neutralize this threat.
In the meantime, we have to adapt to the proliferation of ads. Just as we trained ourselves to use keywords when searching online, we may be using Google search for purchases rather than factual searches. The change could be positive. Outsourcing our collective knowledge to a single tech company never made much sense initially.