Is Google Dying? Or Did the Web Grow Up?
Charlie Warzel for The Atlantic:
Like many, I use Google to answer most of the mundane questions that pop up in my day-to-day life. And yet that first page of search results feels like it’s been surfacing fewer satisfying answers lately. I’m not alone; the frustration has become a persistent meme: that Google Search, what many consider an indispensable tool of modern life, is dead or dying. For the past few years, across various forums and social-media platforms, people have been claiming in viral posts that Google’s flagship product is broken.
I switched to DuckDuckGo a few years ago and only use Google through a Bang command, mostly when looking for hyper-local content. But the few times I have to use Google's search engine, I see the same bad results Warzel describes in his article.
Brereton’s most intriguing argument for the demise of Google Search was that savvy users of the platform no longer type instinctive keywords into the search bar and hit enter. The best Googlers—the ones looking for actionable or niche information, product reviews, and interesting discussions—know a cheat code to bypass the sea of corporate search results clogging the top third of the screen. “Most of the web has become too inauthentic to trust,” Brereton argued, therefore “we resort to using Google, and appending the word ‘reddit’ to the end of our queries.”
This has slowly become my go-to way to look for anything, even on DuckDuckGo. There is a website called Redditle, which uses Google's site-search feature to only look at Reddit. It's one of my most visited websites nowadays.
Unlike Google's results, I know (or at least believe) that most content on Reddit has been written by users looking for genuine answers or recommendations. So far, the bots and search engine experts haven't tapped into Reddit, and I doubt they will have much impact due to how Reddit works. (People upvote the good stuff and downvote the bad stuff. And while a bot army could impact that, mods can take these faked posts down.)
If I were the CEO of Reddit, I'd focus a lot of development effort on making Reddit's native search much better and much more central to a logged out Reddit-experience.