Charlie Warzel of Galaxy Brain has an Atlantic essay on Google that’s far short of Galaxy Brain. It recapitulates the now famous thread on why searching Reddit is better than searching Google, and offers random speculation on what’s wrong with Google Search and whether it might not be “leaving us behind”.
It’s packed with so many Google apologetics, I certainly hope that Google paid for it, e.g.
Google search might be worse now because, like much of the internet, it has matured and has been ruthlessly commercialized. In an attempt to avoid regulation and be corporate-friendly, parts of it might be less wild. But some of what feels dead or dying about Google might be our own nostalgia for a smaller, less mature internet. Sullivan, the Search liaison, understands this longing for the past, but told me that what feels like a Google change is also the search engine responding to the evolution of the web…
Haynes agrees that ads’ presence on Search is worse than ever and the company’s decision to prioritize its own products and features over organic results is frustrating. But she argues that Google’s flagship product has actually gotten better and much more complex over time. That complexity, she suggests, might be why searching feels different right now.
The problem with Google Search can be easily summarized as a lack of competition. Aside from Bing and satellite search sites like DuckDuckGo that use Bing’s search index, there’s nothing.
Google so thoroughly dominates search that there’s no competition. And so no incentive for it do anything except monetize search up to its eyeballs.
Alphabet doesn’t need good searches. Its searches are so bad because it stopped having any interest in having you find things a while back. What it wants you to do is…
1. Click on its services
2. Click on its ads
3. Search in predictable ways so that it can sell ads
Helping you find things is not on the list because Google does not make money if you spend 2 seconds clicking on the first search result and find what you’re looking for.
Google makes more money when you can’t find things than when you do. It makes more money when it serves you bad results. It makes more money when it ignores what you searched for and instead serves up the results that make it money.
This is the definition of why monopolies are terrible. But Google has a monopoly on internet search for reasons I’ve gone into before. And so internet search is terrible and as Google, like most big companies, gets hungrier, they’re going to get worse.