Google is not a search engine

Shelly Palmer:

Google is not optimized to be the best search engine in the world; it is optimized to be the best tool for transforming the currency of intention into shareholder value. This means that its search capabilities only have to be good enough to keep you coming back to Google for search. Considering that Google’s only real competition is Bing, the bar is not very high.

This does leave Google in a unique position. It can subjugate search to advertising efficacy. In other words, Google can optimize for maximum revenue – which is exactly what it does.

Search results on Google are fast, but are they really what you are looking for? If Google revenue was derived directly from search, it would be the best search engine on earth. But Google doesn’t make money from search; it makes money by getting you to click on ads (which you would never need to see if search results gave you exactly what you were searching for). Oh, and if Google were optimized for search (as opposed to advertising revenue), it would go out of business (or have to charge a subscription fee).

Said differently, search is just the best clickbait Google can produce.

Source: Google: I Don’t Think That Word Means What You Think It Means – Shelly Palmer

Author: Matthew Culnane

Sometime social and UX person working in education. Interested in food, books, music, others. Working out how it all works.

3 thoughts on “Google is not a search engine

  1. @coldbrain The underlying article is good. I get the feeling Google has stalled on innovation and search excellence as is intent on getting more page views for revenue.

    The problem with all these articles is I don’t see any suggested solutions.

  2. @bradenslen yeah. I tend to agree. The story isn’t new—a free service raises money through secondary means, then eventually increases the prominence and emphasis of these secondary means compared with the original service. I think a key point in the article is the lack of competition. Bing and DuckDuckGo represent little more than a rounding error in terms of search users. I think that’s why there aren’t many solutions offered.

  3. @coldbrain The public looks for concrete solutions, not just what government should do (break up Google) but what the public as individuals can do. (eg. use DuckDuckGo or Bing instead.) Or do a series of articles on How to Ditch Google. But one must provide alternatives and that does get hard because we have lost so much of the alternative infrastructure for navigating the web.

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