I’ve noticed that, at least for me, Google has less and less value with each passing day. There was a time when I was virtually guaranteed to find what I was looking for by searching for it using Google. Those days are gone. Now, most of my searches are either in the top three responses or buried seven pages deep. To me, that shows a flaw in the algorithm. My reasoning is that if Google can get something useful in the top three and then show 97 useless sites and then show another useful 3, that they are no long ranking sites by utility. If they were, it would be a steady drop off, not a cliff where you immediately plummet into the obscure. I can honestly say that Google has lost its charm for me. It doesn’t cut it anymore. For all of their talk about constantly tweaking algorithms they’ve become irrelevant quite quickly.
I believe that the whole business of search engine optimization (SEO) has sort of turned to the dark side. Sure, there are SEO consultants who are still doing everything above board. I have no doubt that there are probably thousands of SEO consultants who follow all the rules. But there are also thousands who pump up keywords, doctor meta tags, create false linking relationships – in short, do everything they can to trick Google into thinking that the sites they work for have the information you need. I personally don’t blame them. Every industry has its quasi-legal ancillary industries. Who actually believes that it is wrong to place a bet with a bookie but right to place a bet at a sports book in Vegas? So is it wrong to hire an SEO consultant who will get you the results you want regardless of methodology?
I’m not trying to start anything with the SEO community. In fact, I think everyone, even the black hats, are doing a great job. They’ve changed the web as we know it. I can’t blame them for Google and other search engines not being able to keep up with their methods. Google is out of date. It is yesterday’s news. The sad thing is that so many people think Google is fantastic and that “Google is the web”. I think it is getting worse and worse, certainly when I’m trying to do research. Yeah, sure, if I want to buy a hard drive Google helps me find stores really well. But if I want to find out about vulnerabilities to desktop operating systems then that’s a different story.
In PCMag.com’s @work blog , Oliver Rist wrote an interesting post on Tuesday about a study conducted by AIIM that found that 82 percent of people report finding information online is easier than finding information within and organization. The post, http://blogs.pcmag.com/atwork/2008/06/aiim_study_finding_info_on_the.php, has a deeper meaning than is immediately apparent. If you take what I’ve stated above and combine it with this post, then it looks like it is pretty damn impossible to find anything within a company. So if no one can find anything to begin with, then is Google really useless? Probably not. But 20 years after inception it is still just a good start.