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Is Google Search Worse? Many Seem to Agree

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Is Google Search Worse? Many Seem to Agree

A member of Reddit asked if Google search was becoming worse and thousands of others responded overwhelmingly that Google search was not showing what they were looking for. The SEO community on Twitter picked up the discussion and largely agreed.

Google Search Quality Has Declined, According to Users?

While a few members of Reddit (referred to as Redditors) said that Google search used to be worse and asserted that Google was better now, those that defended Google Search were in the minority.

Seemingly most of the commenters on the Reddit thread claimed that Google search was worse and for a variety of reasons.

Articles With a Poor User Experience

A common theme at Reddit was that Google was surfacing content with a bad user experience.

One Sentence Web Pages

An example of a bad user experience that Google ranks are the listicle pages that force a user to keep clicking to read an article one sentence at a time.

One Redditor commented:

“I’m no SEO optimization expert or anything, but the amount of [redacted] blog posts I get when looking up stuff is ridiculous. I think the absolute worst offender are those sites that do the “TOP 10 OF X THING” that legitimately interests you, but instead of just listing them in order on the page, they use …slides…”

Every Site in SERPs Wants to Sell You Something

Another common complaint was that sites ranking for informational queries had a sales slant. That results in the situation where a search for information leads to sites that are advertising or selling a product.

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One Redditor complained:

“most results are just road maps to point you towards buying something rather than giving you info.

I searched something the other day… something fairly mundane and was hoping to just find intel on it.

All google gave me was a bunch of amazon, ebay, walmart, and other big box retail links. …I just wanted to know about this thing, im not looking to buy… if I wanted that I’d use the shopping tab.”

Another Redditor agreed, writing:

“Agree. What’s the point of having a shopping tab if everything is shopping?”

A subsequent comment from another member observed that searching for information about dental fillings resulted in low quality listicles of best fillings to buy and other content that was focused on selling dental fillings rather than provide information about it.

Pages That Force Scrolling to Find the Content

Another form of bad user experience that was complained about were sites featuring an informational query that forced a user to scroll past paragraphs of content in order to reach the answer they were looking for.

One Redditor explained:

“The worst is when I’m looking for a release date, for example, and it’s a 5 paragraph article.

“You want to know the date? We’ll tell you the release date.

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Just keep scrolling past these ads to find out the release date.”

…irrelevant backstory

“The release date is coming soon. Everyone is excited for the release date”

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“Now a lot of people wonder what the release date is. Currently we do not have a release date.”

Google Offers a Response

A Google spokesperson contacted Search Engine Journal and offered this response:

“We’re constantly making improvements to our systems – 5,000 in 2021, based on more than 800,000 quality tests – to make sure we’re delivering helpful and relevant information.

Over the last seven years, we decreased irrelevant results by over 50%, and our AI identified nearly six times more spam sites than last year, keeping more than 99% of Search spam-free.

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We value user input, and anyone can report any issue they may find via the feedback function on Search.

  • We’ve made major investments in language understanding and AI to evolve Search along with the internet and the world around us, which is constantly changing.
  • Search has automated processes designed to identify and prevent spam or machine-created content from influencing results.
  • We always value feedback on areas where we may not get it right, and use this input to help inform product improvements alongside quantitative feedback from live experiments and qualitative feedback from our human reviewers.”

Search Community Opinion on Google Search

On the SEO community side there were many who agreed that Google Search is worse.

A representative tweet:

Another person offered the opinion that AI content creation was ranking heavily in Google.

He tweeted:

Big Brands and Clickbait Dominate Google?

Others offered their opinions that big brands and clickbait were dominating Google search results.

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They tweeted:

Why Is Google Search Worse?

Both the Reddit and Twitter communities were divided as to why Google search was so bad.

Some blamed the publishers for gaming Google in order to rank content that doesn’t answer informational queries or that offer a poor user experience.

Others blamed Google’s search algorithms since that’s what decides to rank the poor quality content.

A good example of the content and ranking problem can be seen in recipe search queries.

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The recipe blogging community believed that Google only ranked long form content. In response, the recipe bloggers published recipes containing long and sometimes irrelevant personal anecdotes that forced site visitors to scroll past paragraphs of irrelevant content to the bottom of the page to find the recipe they were looking for.

The discussions seemed to ultimately lead to this one question:

Are Google search results worse or is the content being published nowadays overwhelmingly poor?

Citations

Read the Original Reddit Discussion

Does anyone else think Google search quality has gone downhill fast?

Read the Search Community on Twitter Discuss if Google is Worse

Do you think Google search is getting better or worse?

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Fact Checking: Get Your Facts Right

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Fact Checking: Get Your Facts Right

In the last decade or so, the concept of “fake news” has become a major thorn in the side of consumers and content writers alike.

Digital marketing experts who write SEO content at the enterprise level might not consider themselves journalists or news reporters – but there’s a greater overlap between the roles than many people realize.

Like journos, enterprise SEO content writers need to earn the trust of their audience by demonstrating authority, relevance, and experience.

And while you might think that, as a content marketing specialist, the only person you’re serving is your client or employer, the truth is that good SEO content provides just as much service to consumers.

You’re not just advertising to people; you’re helping them find answers, information, and solutions to their problems.

That’s why, for SEO content writers, getting the facts right is crucial.

“Fake news” has eroded a lot of people’s trust in media. Online content, in particular, is always fighting an uphill battle due to the oversaturation of the digital space – and the sheer amount of misinformation that finds its way into blogs and social media sites with little quality control.

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Today, fact-checking is arguably more important than ever before.

One little mistake is all it takes to lose a consumer’s trust forever.

But what does it mean to get your facts right? Is it just ensuring every name is spelled correctly, and every claim has an attributed source?

Both of these things are an important part of SEO fact-checking, but they’re only a small piece of a large puzzle.

Enterprise SEO Fact Checking Best Practices

Fun fact: Even when consumers don’t know you’re lying, Google does.

Web pages with deceptive, inaccurate, or poorly vetted content are penalized and less likely to appear in search results.

Want to avoid the wrath of the almighty algorithm? Here’s what you need to do:

Get The Basics Right

A few paragraphs back, I mentioned that fact-checking isn’t limited to correctly writing people’s names, ages, positions, and pronouns.

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Nevertheless, getting the basics right is still important. If you can’t do at least that much, then you won’t be prepared to do more in-depth fact-checking.

It’s especially important to get this information right when you’re quoting multiple people.

Not only do you need to attribute quotes and ideas to the proper sources, but you also have to make sure the information they shared with you is accurately reproduced.

Double Check Everything

If you get a quote from someone that says the sky is blue, go outside and look up, just to be sure.

Okay, that might be an exaggerated example – but you get the point.

Double and triple-check everything.

If you find a useful quote or statistic online, track down the original source. See if you can find other reliable web pages with the same information.

Don’t be afraid to do a little research yourself. Crunch the numbers and try to find corroborating evidence.

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Never take anything at face value.

Go To The Source

Speaking of tracking down the sources of stats and quotes: That’s a cornerstone of fact-checking so important, it merits expanding on now.

Have you ever had a teacher or professor tell you, in no uncertain terms, never to use Wikipedia as a source?

Well, that’s just as true when writing enterprise-level SEO content. Wikipedia might be useful in pointing you toward helpful sources, but it shouldn’t be your primary text.

Nor should any second-hand source. If another web page states something as a fact, confirm where it got that fact.

If it’s a disreputable source and you parrot it, then you become a disreputable source, too.

Understand The Information

Content writing – especially at the enterprise level and especially in an agency (rather than in-house PR team) context – often requires authors to cover many different areas of expertise in many different industries.

It can be tempting to regurgitate and plagiarize information that already exists, but if you do that, you won’t be able to offer any meaningful insights.

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You have to understand the information you’re relaying.

That will help you spot contradictions and factual errors and demonstrate genuine authority.

Is AI Automation The Future Of Fact Checking?

Enterprise-level content fact-checking requires a lot of time and effort, but cutting corners is a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, just as it has with many other aspects of SEO, AI automation may soon be able to simplify the process.

U.K.-based independent fact-checking organization, Full Fact, has been leading the charge in recent years to develop scalable, automated fact-checking tools.

Full Fact’s efforts have already garnered the attention of the biggest names in search engine technology.

In 2019, the non-profit organization was one of the winners of the 2019 Google AI Impact Challenge, which provides funding for potentially revolutionary automation research projects.

Full Fact’s stated goal is to develop AI software capable of breaking down long content pieces into individual sentences, then identifying the types of claims those sentences represent, before finally cross-referencing those claims in real-time with the most up-to-date factual news data.

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Though Full Fact is still years away from achieving its goal, the benefits of such a breakthrough for SEO content writing are self-evident.

That said, you don’t have to wait for the future to use AI automation and other software tools to help you fact-check.

For example, the Grammarly Plagiarism Checker not only identifies duplicate content taken from another source but also highlights portions of text requiring attribution.

Commonly used enterprise SEO tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz, meanwhile, can be used to investigate a domain’s authority, helping you decide which sources are considered reputable.

Fact-checking in today’s oversaturated news and information marketplace can be intimidating at first glance. But the number of resources available to content writers is growing by leaps and bounds every day.

Making full use of these resources better enables you to win consumer trust in an age when that kind of trust is a very delicate, precious, and valuable commodity.

More resources:


Featured Image: redgreystock/Shutterstock

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