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From Impeccable To Terrible? Google Search Gets Slammed

As of December 2021, there are at least 50 search engines, with Google Search reigning supreme.

It became so popular that 15 years ago, its trademark name got designated as part of speech, just like what happened to Band Aid and Xerox.

When the Oxford English Dictionary presented online its selection of new words for June 2006, “Google,” as a verb, made it on the list. It appears between the noun “Gibbs” and the adjective “go-to.”

Google earned such distinction for being a go-to search engine, and it’s been doing what it’s doing today since 1998.

Merriam-Webster followed suit and announced in July 2006 that “Google” would be included on its next hardbound edition, reported The Mercury News.

As a transitive verb, per Merriam-Webster, “Google” can be written either in uppercase or lowercase form. It means “to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (someone or something) on the World Wide Web.”

With Google Search consistently being the top choice for search engine, does it follow that it also performs consistently well?

Google Search homepage on a Black Samsung tablet
Google Search homepage on a Black Samsung tablet

Sometime in 1998, computer scientist John Hennessy typed “Gerhard Casper” on the keyboard and waited for AltaVista to provide the result.

AltaVista, a search engine launched in December 1995, showed information about Casper the Friendly Ghost, a cartoon character that debuted in 1945.

Then Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page showed Hennessy what they got and watched him use Google to look again for “Gerhard Casper” on the web.

Google didn’t disappoint the man.

Hennessy saw results pertaining to Stanford University President (at that time) Gerhard Casper (Hennessy replaced him in September 2000).

More or less, that was how the first ever recorded Google search took place, according to Metro.co.uk.

Google turned 20 in 2018 and as of this writing, per Internet Live Stats, 98,200 Google searches are made in one second.

Per day, Google Search caters to more than 3.5 billion queries across the world.

Google Search doesn’t “lead” the search engine market because the more appropriate term to use, according to digital marketing agency WebFX, is “dominate.”

As of November 2021, based on data obtained by dropshipping company Oberlo from web analytics tool StatCounter, Google handled 91.4 percent of the world’s online queries.

As for other popular search engines – Baidu, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, Yandex – their combined market share was 8.01 percent (compare that to Google’s 91.4 percent share).

Here’s the breakdown of the market shares of the above-mentioned search engines:

(a) Bing (Microsoft) – 3.14 percent

(b) Baidu (China) – 1.76 percent

(c) Yahoo (U.S.) – 1.53 percent

(d) Yandex (Russia) – 0.92 percent

(e) DuckDuckGo (U.S.) – 0.66 percent

From January 2010 to September 2021, according to German database company Statista, Google’s dominance prevailed, with 86.64 percent market share as of September 2021. As of June 2021, it was 92.47 percent.

In 2020, WebFX said that per data from StatCounter, Google had 91.54% market share.

Smartphone showing a query on the word ‘analytics’
Smartphone showing a query on the word ‘analytics’

This year’s Google Search trends, brought to us by Google, of course, are the following (note: not ranked in any way):

(a) “Squid Game” (for TV show)

(b) “Gen Z fashion” (for Gen Z queries)

(c) “Megan Fox” (for red carpet look)

(d) “Black Widow” (for action films)

(e) “Bernie Sanders mittens” (for memes)

(f) “tiktok pasta” (for recipe)

(g) “Meghan sand Harry interview” (for interview)

Other trending global searches (in alphabetical order):

(a) “affirmations”

(b) “body positivity in 2021”

(c) “how to move with plants”

(d) “impact of climate”

(e) “love you in sign language”

(f) “pride events near me”

(g) “sea shanties”

(h) “soulmate”

Given the ongoing pandemic, the following Google search queries got including in the 2021 trending list:

(a) “covid vaccine”

(b) “covid vaccine near me”

(c) “doomscrolling”

(d) “how to be hopeful”

(e) "how to heal"

(f) “how to maintain mental health”

(g) “how to start a business”

(h) “where can I travel”

Why Does Google Have Terrible Search Results?

Icon of Google app on a smartphone
Icon of Google app on a smartphone

Two articles from reputable websites both claim that Google Search is becoming “worse.”

In addition, a different site enumerated things that appear to be “wrong” with the world’s undisputed number one search engine. Another one listed several reasons why Google Search – pardon for the word – “sucks.”

Dozens of comments at social news websites Hacker News and Reddit likewise expressed displeasure. Some of the frustrated Google users even commented how AltaVista and Ask.com (formerly Ask Jeeves) fared better than Google in giving what users were really searching for.

One Redditor recalled that in the past, after one searched for news topics/stories, Google would provide “a wide range of options” that would include works by “many lesser-known freelance journalists.” Eventually, not anymore, according to the same Reddit user, as giant media networks dominate Google results for news.

Based on articles published by The Washington Post and the business website Fast Company, Google Search “is getting worse” because of its greater emphasis on ads. People need to scroll down farther – to skip the ads – to arrive at organic search results, or results that “are calculated strictly algorithmically, and not affected by advertiser payments,” explains Wikipedia.

The Washington Post article also criticized Google for making itself “the ultimate arbiter of knowledge.” It happened when, at one time, a search result (“question one nevada”) that made it on the top asked users to vote “no” for a certain initiative.

As for the “wrong things” about Google, Search Engine Journal (SEJ) said that one of them is that it doesn’t always give the correct research results and featured snippet answers. The Washington Post article agrees on this, and gave this example about Krispy Kreme.

When searching for “How do I check my Krispy Kreme Gift Card balance,” Google Search will not refer you to Krispy Kreme’s website, which apparently has the complete information. Instead, it will take you to a gift card-selling website that may contain the same information.

SEJ also questions how Google handles privacy matters because it uses data from some of its products such as Google Home “to sell advertising.”

Speaking of privacy, that’s also one of the reasons why web design agency UPQODE said that “Google sucks.”

Proof that Google monitors people’s queries? Whatever they googled before, they will magically “appear as suggestions,” according to UPQODE, the next time they use Google Search.

In addition, it said that original content creators lose against spammers as Google makes the latter receive a higher ranking than the former.

Moreover, UPQODE finds it “misleading” for Google to make search engine optimization (SEO) as the main key behind the success of a website/blog.

Finally, UPQODE wants Google to make organic searches be “found at the top of the page.”

Conclusion

When using Google Search to look for “jeans,” for example, it doesn’t automatically mean the searcher wants to buy a pair. Perhaps the searcher simply wants to know about jeans currently in style – or other reasons not related to making a purchase.

Statista said that in 2020, from the estimated $181.69 billion revenue Google raked in, approximately $146.9 billion came from ads.

People want improvements in Google Search, but The Washington Post article accuses Google for “making sure the simplest and easiest-to-access results are either paid ads or information that keeps you on Google.”

That’s not only terrible. It’s scary, too.

About The Authors

Mariella Blankenship

Mariella Blankenship - Mariella is an SEO writer who helps companies improve their Google search rankings. Her work has appeared in a variety of e-zine publications. She writes articles for site-reference newletter.com on a daily basis about SEO techniques. Her articles strive to strike a balance between being insightful and meeting SEO requirements–but never at the cost of being enjoyable to read.

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