Monday, 2 June 2008

Google - please search for what I ask for

I do a fair few Google searches over the course of my day, and I've begun to notice a worrying trend. Google is beginning to give me less control over what I search for. Instead of returning pages that contain all of the items in my search query, it will return pages that contain some of the items, and that are linked to with text that contains the rest. This is annoying.
An example is this search:
ie 8 "beta 2"
Currently, the top result for this page is a link to the Internet Explorer page for Beta 1 ... but that's not what I want! If I go through to Google's cache of the page, I see this. Note the text in the Google frame that says "These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: beta 2".

OK ... so I can understand that for many users, this feature could be useful and could give more meaningful results on some queries - but as a sophisticated user, I would expect that I could turn it off and search purely for pages that contain my terms! Google's advanced pages do not (currently) have this option (which would be something like inpage: and allinpage:).
There is however, a semi-hidden "allinanchor:" directive!

That was the second query I had trouble with today (the first was this one). Yahoo was giving me better results earlier, but seems to be following Google's behaviour now.

I don't know whether this has changed recently. I have noticed searches coming up with similar issues in the past, but not for a while. It could be that Google are tweaking the weighting of keywords-in-page to keywords-in-inbound-links, and this is an unfortunate side-effect.
It may also cause (or be the result of?) link-spammers - I think I've seen cases where link-spammers have taken advantage or weighting based upon keywords-in-inbound-links already...

The phenomenon appears to have been noted on other pages like this one, this one... I also read earlier someone suggesting surrounding each term with quotes, but that clearly doesn't work in some cases ("beta 2" above is already in quotes), and is a pain-in-the-behind to have to do for every search!

Please Google, smarten up and realise that some of your users are smarter than you think :o)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't anthropomorphize Google Search Algorithms, they hate that.