November 13, 2019

Google Search Is Dead (8 years later)

8 years ago I wrote a blog post on Jirnil, (a little Medium-esque app I’d built while interning for the FCC) titled: Google Search Is Dead”.

RageChill had been getting popular. To track usage and commentary, I’d type in ragechill” into Chrome and hit enter. I got the same 3 articles each time: Mashable, regarding our IE debacle; one YouTube review; and a Reddit thread.

Then I’d go to search.twitter.com. The results were evocative. People tweeting at their friends, commenting on songs they were hearing, complaining about the app breaking. It felt alive, with new mentions and tweets and thoughts every few minutes.

Twitter was at least 100x more valuable than Google in keeping track of what people were saying about RageChill.

I think I was quick to judge Google search as dead, but the trend has continued. In the past week, I’ve seen more vocal complaints about the degraded results people are getting on Google. It’s nearly impossible to find the weird, quirky, interesting, intellectual web of 15 years ago. Google is now the YellowPages.

DHH/Jason complain about Monday.com advertising above their results. It takes multiple pages of scrolling just to get to genuine results. When I was trying to research Hemingway’s travels in 1939, all I could seem to get were Amtrak ads - despite how much I twisted the search keywords. Ben Thompson wrote about this very issue yesterday in the Stratechery.

Google feels very static. Static in a way Google Maps, Twitter, and YouTube don’t feel. And because of that, my searches have slowly drifted elsewhere without any sort of conscious decision on my part.

  • Searching for a product review or recipe? YouTube
  • Searching to buy something? Amazon
  • Searching for a business’ phone number or reviews? Google Maps
  • Searching for transit directions? Google Maps
  • Searching for a hotel? Airbnb / Google Maps
  • Searching for commentary? Twitter

Google the company is just fine. I heavily use YouTube and Google Maps to search and discover. But their core product is as useless as ever.


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