Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
Have you noticed the change? It’s happened on Google, Ebay, Amazon and basically everywhere you turn on the internet. When you type things in- you no longer get the results you were searching for.
It used to be that if you typed the word tajine into the ebay search box, the results you got actually contained the word TAJINE. If you go to (French) Ebay today and try that, here are the search results you get:
Boots, toy cars, scarves, a bag- no tajine. Google does the same thing- and shamelessly. The next time you search have a look at the bottom section of each result (which I highlighted in red)
Instead of searching for what you want, they decide what you’re actually searching for. The searcher evidently doesn’t have a clue as to what he’s looking for. When someone complained in the google forums, they got this answer (the highlighting and underlining are mine):
“Phrase search (using double quotes, “…” )
By putting double quotes around a set of words, you are telling Google to consider the exact words in that exact order without any change. Google already uses the order and the fact that the words are together as a very strong signal and will stray from it only for a good reason, so quotes are usually unnecessary. By insisting on phrase search you might be missing good results accidentally. For example, a search for [ “Alexander Bell” ] (with quotes) will miss any pages that refer to Alexander G. Bell.
That’s just fabulous, Shannon. In essence it means we’re no longer allowed to search for what we want. I get the omitted word thing on a regular basis while searching for local businesses. Google will cross out the name of our town- and/or the first page of results is riddled with comparison shopping websites. If you’re looking for a plasterer in Mazamet, you get this:
On the entire first page which includes 10 results, only 1 is an actual place here in town where an actual plasterer works. On the second search page it’s the same thing, only 1 out of the 10 results is a local business. 2 out of 20 is not a great average. If you’re looking for a plaster restorer in town it gets even worse. They cross out words you’re looking for in the first two results (and notice the second result is a restaurant):
It’s just obscene. A while back the internet was fantastic for small businesses everywhere. For people who offered very specific services. But like most other things in the world it’s been perverted by people out to make a profit. The phrase that Google employee used is just ridiculous: By insisting on phrase search you might be missing good results accidentally. She doesn’t mean good results, of course. She means results based on optimizing their advertising revenue. C’mon, seriously- if only 2 out of 20 results are what I’m looking for- the other 18 are either people manipulating Google or Google manipulating users. Or a bit of each.