Is Google Search Really Dying?
Google Search is really dying in 2022, here's why:
This is going to be a different kind of an article.
I think a lot about SEO and how algorithms warp our access to information with user-interface bias. I’m pretty sure Search in 2022, is in a very broken state.
You.com is my favorite search engine, and I think Salesforce will eventually acquire it and take on Bing and Google with it. You.com yesterday on March 15th, 2022 said it was launching a search app built in collaboration with OpenAI that generates snippets — or even documents — of text when given a prompt. Socher calls it a “personal AI writer.”
You.com’s new tool is powered by the same technology behind OpenAI’s GPT-3, an AI language system that can generate human-like poetry, emails, recipes, short stories, movie scripts, and more.
Why You.com and Reddit will Kill Google Search
Every few years there is one of these “Google is Dying” articles that really makes you think. This year in 2022 we had another too that was published on February 18th, 2022.
The way we can tell that Google is dying is actually more about how people are actually using Google, for example searching with a “+ Reddit” at the end to get actual human inputs and not just Google snippet answers that are optimized for mobile convenience.
Google Search is Really Dying a Slow Death
So how we search is changing since we don’t actually trust Google, and it’s bevy of Ads at the top of our search pages and rankings biased to itself and stories like these.
The core argument is that many people have become so disappointed in—or distrustful of—good old Google search results that they now append the term “reddit” to the end of their queries.
How young people are searching namely in a different way:
On mobile on TikTok
With Voice Search
Reddit or (Google+Reddit)
(New) privacy focused search engines
All of these in part, points to a future where Google Search is becoming less relevant. Many people start their internet experience on Amazon or TikTok now, not Google. YouTube is still an incredible search engine and Google still for the most part optimizes its search in an acceptable manner, if you aren’t a stickler for bias or superficial data.
On Reddit you can get a feed with upvoting, real human discussion and links - in a way that Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram completely miss. It’s a more informationally rich snippet of the internet and the information online today.
The Internet Needs a Search Upgrade
That we don’t trust Google is also clear for the Reddit and HAcker News Crowd, the tech savvy crowd.
The “Google Search is Dying” by the blogger DKB was different from most wakeup calls that go viral. The blog shot up to the top of Hacker News quickly, and is already the 11th most upvoted post on Hacker News of all time, with more than 1,560 comments.
ByteDance, the company that made TikTok is really the most likely to disrupt Google’s search engine. TikTok is already a super-app that we’ve rarely seen of the kind of scale that it is dwarfing Instagram and Facebook combined.
While I think ByteDance and Reddit will further optimize how they do search to make the internet better, more distributed and more decentralized (Google has had a monopoly for too long), there’s another small startup that I’m tracking on this.
Richard Socher, former chief scientist at Salesforce, and his co-founders at You.com have been on a mission over the last year to build a different type of search engine. This is the product that I think has the best chance of displacing Google, duckduckgo and Bing eventually.
You.com is a search engine that puts its users first. Using a combination of search results, apps, and shortcuts, it presents information in rows that "form an interface of your digital life".
You.com also claims to be carbon neutral, if you need an ESG incentive.
Reddit is certainly building momentum as it readies to go public. It hasn’t peaked in user growth. It’s also improving as a search engine and as the best social platform for real information. Reddit is currently the most popular search engine that’s not just spammy clickbait (thanks Google!).
The following apps all turned their feeds into impression addiction and vanity sentiment loops:
But we actually want good information (Reddit)!!
The dopamine-loop addiction candy of these apps ruined them for us as they become more about Ad-revenue than the user-experience.
Let’s just admit it, you already know subconsciously that Google isn’t going to return a good result. The fact that it’s been accused of favoring its own products on its Search is a big red flag.
When google decided to derive its revenue from Ads circa 1998 it became impossible that Google would really be an objective search engine that we could trust.
“Currently, the predominant business model for commercial search engines is advertising. The goals of the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users…we expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers…Furthermore, advertising income often provides an incentive to provide poor quality search results.”
This was a major red flag nearly 25 years ago! This also means people are looking for alternative way to crawl the internet that’s not biased by the pollution and corruption of digital advertising.
Legacy Web 2.0 internet platforms are losing popularity as users shift to Web 3.0 platforms.
To cross reference a search on Reddit, is to get a real answer. This “+ Reddit” habit of searching on the web leads to more genuine places on the internet. People actually do crave the truth.
So instead of searching the world of information that Google and its web-crawler bots see, you get information and links from the world of things that have been discussed in Reddit land, which are a lot. “Why are people searching Reddit specifically?” the blog post reads.
Consumers crave better objectivity, privacy and user-design in a Search product. While Reddit may be the front page of the internet for many of us, clearly there’s something special about user-created directories of information like subreddits each with their own policies, vibe and quality and type of information, discussion or links.
Salesforce will one day acquire You.Com I predict and elevate the product with better AI. Salesforce is beefing up its A.I. researchers and will continue to do so in the 2020s. Bing has certainly gotten better in the last few years, but who actually wants to use a Microsoft product if they don’t have to?
For now some of us use duckduckgo or other search engines. You.com may plan to make some money through affiliate links but it’s monetization will suffer if it’s not acquired. You.com had a $20 million funding round last year.
Young People Hate the Advertising Based Internet
So where does that leave us?
The world is rebelling against digital advertising. Meta’s stock price plummeted more in the last few months than ever before in recent memory. Year to date, Meta’s stock is down over 43% inspite still posting $Billions in profits.
Google is a more sticky product, namely because searching on Google and watching YouTube is such a habit and its algorithm especially on YouTube is so big. These are huge monopolies without good alternatives.
While Reddit can be an interesting “starting page”, Google is still most often the conduit to other websites, even today years later in 2022.
As Amazon and ByteDance (the maker of TikTok) slowly take advertising revenue from the likes of Google and Facebook, the Ad-based duopoly becomes more competitive as we are now seeing in the Cloud with Amazon and Microsoft now competing with Google and Alibaba as well.
Do you Google + Reddit?
An Internet With No Choice is Not a Good Internet
Google has orchestrated a monopoly over search engine distribution that allows them to get away with search results that are dominated by ads and spam, without losing most consumers.
Google was never a choice for consumers, it was the only guy in town. Let’s get that straight. Silicon Valley force fed us an internet that wasn’t just deceptive, clickbait and manipulative, it was fundamentally wrong and bad for our mental health (as Facebook products have shown).
Let's be blunt here - almost no consumer consciously chooses to use Google search anymore. Google has a distribution monopoly through Android, its deal with Apple on iOS and MacOS, and on desktop through Chrome.
Still even as TikTok and Reddit become more popular, they are ramping up their advertising to boost revenue. Facebook and Google taught us that Ads are a cash cow and everyone from Amazon to China wants a piece of it.
How to Solve the Convenience Addiction Problem of Search?
“The short answer is that Google search results are clearly dying. The long answer is that most of the web has become too inauthentic to trust.”
Web. 3.0 really is about trust, but it’s hard to know what part of it today is even remotely trustworthy. So we still stick with the one we don’t trust until there’s an obvious better solution. That’s the problem with convenience.
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Regarding the viral author on Hacker News, his real name is Dmitri Kyle Brereton, and he’s a 26-year-old software engineer who works at the recruiting platform Gem. “I think what made this post different, and the reason I wrote it, is that everyone was talking about the search results being bad, but no one was adequately explaining why it happened.”
Sadly Google does foster a “how to hack the web with inauthentic content” type scenario, where the “Google is Dying” meme has often done well on sites like Hacker News. How can we create an internet based on truth in such an algorithmic loop reality? It’s easy to question the motives of D.K. of telling us what we subconsciously already knew about Google Search.
Young people these days and often on Reddit, think they are changing the world by commenting on it, and that to me is part of the problem. We’ve created an internet based on false engagement signals that has nothing to do with the real world. The user is just trapped in a dopamine-inducing behavioral loop but the truth in the “real world” is beyond their reach.
Thanks for reading!