back to article Google promises to adjust search algorithm to favor 'people-first content'

In what may be a major shift, Google plans to revise its search algorithm to rank content crafted primarily for people rather than content designed to impress web crawlers and indexing bots. "Next week, we'll launch the 'helpful content update' to tackle content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in …

  1. Rich 2 Silver badge

    A good start….

    …would be to return results for whatever was asked for rather than completely unrelated stuff.

    So when I type in “bananas” I don’t get results for “oranges” or “buy a bicycle on ebay”.

    And if they could make the search actually take notice of “-oranges” (ie - I’m not interested in oranges) then that would be great.

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: A good start….

      Hey, that's AI in action. You've searched for a fruit and, according to your browsing, medical and buying history you were really looking for oranges.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: A good start….

        That search was a lemon

        1. a pressbutton

          Re: A good start….

          But then you might not see a link to one of the best games ever invented and played on Radio 4.

          The answer is in plain sight...

    2. hoola Silver badge

      Re: A good start….

      And how about removing all the Amazon results that are returned in to top of the list for items that don't even exist.

      Or if I search for something in the UK, don't return shite from all over the world that is irrelevant, particularly when I have specified it in the search term.

      And stop the bloody auto-complete that turns what you are searching for into what they want you to search for or what all the other people have searched for.

      The word suggests are just stupid.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: A good start….

        And on the subject of Amazon, if I search for ‘Hynix <Part number>, I’m looking for that specific part number, not a bunch of other random “memory” products from manufacturers I’ve never heard of at too good to be true prices.

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: A good start….

          It used to be that putting a search term in quotes meant "i really, really need this to be part of the result". No longer the case it seems, as often that word can't be found on the loaded page.

          My suspicion is that it's not economical for google to return no results, so if that's the case they show you anything - a click through to a site showing their ads is better than no click at all.

          1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: My suspicion is that it's not economical for google to return no results


            didn't return any results, but I dare say it will once LeReg is next indexed. Along with a list of replacement keyboards courtesy of Amazon... Or maybe helpful articles on training your cat not to sit on your desk.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: My suspicion is that it's not economical for google to return no results

              Or immediately send you to Apple's butterfly keyboard support page, if you're using Safari.

    3. Sudosu Bronze badge

      Re: A good start….

      After a full contextual review of your search for bananas and a deep scouring of the entire internet we have found the results most relevant to your request.

      It has been determined that what you really want is some toast.

      -Talkie Toaster

      1. Paul Herber Silver badge

        Re: A good start….

        How many here will admit to having looked for crumpet? Hot, buttered crumpet.

        1. Cheshire Cat

          Re: A good start….

          Miss Piggy knows what you're searching for

    4. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      Re: A good start….

      When you type in 'bananas', you'll get the results that maximises our profits, and if that means other fruit, Teslas or information from a particular insurance company, then that's what you'll get.

      You must not forget that search is not a service for you, it's simply a service we know that you will use.

  2. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Google Lost Me...

    ...eighteen months ago when their search results turned to dog poo.

    Google as a search engine used to be relevant; now they are an ad company that offers random links to vaguely relevant sites.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Er, whatever happened to that "AI" pixie dust

    that google is supposed to sprinkle over it's search results ?

  4. Omnipresent Bronze badge

    The Enter-webs is Useless.

    What they are telling you is they have transitioned to a "content based" web search. You know... influencers. You already couldn't find anything useful anymore with google.

    Do All Evil.

  5. myhandler

    I used to have a plug in for Firefox that forced "verbatim" on every bloody search.

    But who knows why it got deactivated and no longer works.

    So I have to carefully decide what phrases to put in quotes, or click Tools > All Results > Verbatim - drives me mad, what a lunatic waste of time.

    The bastards don't give a flying fart for their users.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Their users are the people buying the adverts - not the people searching (who as we all know are the product)

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Exactly - Google see the search results as generating them money by pushing adverts, not answering the search. Search these days is just a Fairly Accessible Random Text.

  6. Filippo Silver badge

    Oh, so they've finally noticed that their search results are starting to be quite crap, and that a big part of their business is really dependant on people using search, and have managed to connect these two notions together and see where they eventually lead?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Don't get too optimistic.

      It's Google - they're only trying to find a better way to fling ads at you.

      1. veti Silver badge

        That's fine, if they can get back to the way they did it a couple of years ago. After all, Google wasn't exactly starving then.

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: where they lead

      Clearly Google needs to start some projects that train people to enjoy clicking on the most profitable search results.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Google plans to revise its search algorithm"

    And all SEO salespeople are planning on decrypting that revision and modifying their courses accordingly.

  8. a pressbutton

    I await the singularity

    So the AI engine will be improved iteratively...

    When the search engine just tells me what I want to know without me asking,

    I will welcome the new overlords and buy a plastic cucumber preserver as suggested.

  9. Justin Case

    I thought it was just because I'm getting older...

    It is comforting that Google searches are actually getting worse at finding me the answer to my many and varied queries about programming / bugs.

    Could this be the beginning of the end, because right at the start of Google's journey what stood them out from their many competitors was the relevance and usefulness of their results.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: I thought it was just because I'm getting older...

      I was never that enamoured with them, I found for me Yahoo was more use and that the new google search engine was not as much use.

      Then Yahoo went rubbish and to be honest most search engines are now pants.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: I thought it was just because I'm getting older...

        Google's mail claim to fame for programmers in the early days was that they bought the Deja News usenet service and it's archive, and indexed the myriad of useful information that it contained.

        Prior to that, I used to use Alta Vista as my search engine, back when DEC were using it to showcase how capable their Alpha servers were at large data sets and searching.

        But that was a long time ago, when the Internet was smaller, and before it's monetization, back when it was still mainly for geeks.

    2. anonanonanonanonanon

      Re: I thought it was just because I'm getting older...

      I remember years ago, searching for very specific things would reveal some very in depth info, some finer points would lead me down email chains of engineers discussing the specific problem. Most of the time now, it leads to Stack Overflow, which to be fair, can still be a good resource.

      But I noticed finding things like the specifications for file formats have become very hard, I keep finding pages and pages o about the file format, but not the actual specification that would give me the information I need.

      I think part of it maybe the specifications are `hidden`, even if open source, or maybe, the sort of sites they are on, don't employ any SEO, or sites that would rather sell you an implementation just have better SEO.

      I noticed this especially when I was in a meeting and a guy looked up the exact specification I had been looking for idly for a few weeks, but couldn't find anything useful.

      The website it turned up on was very old school, but the specification was there and comprehensively described

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about quitting the practice of poisoning search results with ads? Random ads are bad enough but "personalised" ones are even worse. Its now reached the point where I have to skip the first page of results completely to get anything useful.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You can disabled personal ads in your google profile.

      Turn off personalized ads

      Go to your Google Account.

      In the navigation panel, select Data & privacy.

      Scroll to "Things you've done and places you've been."

      Under "Ad settings," select Ad personalization.

      Turn off the switch next to "Ad Personalization is ON."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: Go to your Google Account.

        And right there is my first problem.....

        I just want search results. I don't need an account. I'm fine if they're not tailored for me as long as there's a good selection and they relate to the phrase I searched for.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is this 'Google' you speak of?

    I haven't used Google in many years (because I distrust and despise them); Qwant or, depending on mood, Ecosia or Brave Search work adequately well enough for me…

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: adequately well enough for me

      Maybe some of us need good search results?

    2. Matthew Brasier

      Re: What is this 'Google' you speak of?

      Much as I want Qwant, Brave, Duck-duck-go, etc to be viable alternatives to google, they still mostly don't provide useful results. Or at least it feels like searching on Altavsita used to. I am worried that the reason google (while worse than it used to be) returns more relevant results than its competitors is precisely the kind of user tracking and analysis that make the competing products attractive. (I.e. if I google knows enough about who I am to know if I search for Camel documentation I mean the apache project, not the humped animal - something the above search engines all fail spectacularly at).

      1. Sudosu Bronze badge

        Re: What is this 'Google' you speak of?

        I usually start with Duck-duck-go and if the results are a bit threadbare I add the !G at the end to push it out to Google...though I don't have to do it that often anymore.

        This at least gives a bit of an option to avoid all the adverts.

        There are some other switches too, though I only remember these .

        !yt for YouTube

        !w for Wikipedia

        !M for Google maps

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    content crafted primarily for people

    or BY people? :(

    p.s. much more knowledgeable friend has commented recently that the google search engine has, currently, run out of the road, and he hardly ever gets any meaningful results, no matter what tricks he tries. And it's not even that you just have to punch through 1252536 pages full of paid junk, it's just that those _useful_ pages that, at one point, were forced down google search results by those that pay, they're gone from search results altogether.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: content crafted primarily for people

      You can't have relevant results pollute your ads. Your whole business model is at stake here.

      And there is nothing to worry about, that new generation for whom "search" spells "Google" isn't going anywhere, no matter how inefficient you become.

  13. Sub 20 Pilot

    Crap searches.

    Not used Google as a search engine for a long time. Too many pages or irrelevant crap and too many US based results which seem to be the fucking default for anything in English regardless of your settings / location. search terms etc.

    Results peppered with shite from amazon and ebay etc.

    Whatever you look for there will be a bunch of results suggesting you buy it from one of these fuckers. Search for info on, say, ACL damage and get hundreds of offers to buy your next'ACL damage' from us etc.

    For my work they are totally useless so I don't use search any more. Makes some things more difficult and means having to ask people for details but at least I am not letting these wankers make money and waste my time.

    Hopefully someone will come along and do something that overturns the whole crumbling edifice of shite.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    You want amusement?

    Just type in any medical condition you care to name

    On the first page of results you'll get 2 helpful at most, 5 offering cosmetic surgery, 2 offering 'herbal' remedies of an untested potency (and untested ingredients too)and 3 randoms claiming you have cancer and 3 days to live

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > "Not long after, Rob Beschizza, from, advised searchers to add the word "reddit" to any given search as a way to guard against inauthentic content"

    Even better, put "-inurl:reddit"

    reddit has to be the most badly designed website ever. The "UI" (if it can be called that) is an exercise in everything to avoid.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's also hardly authentic. A handful of people moderate the subs which contain the majority of posts. Essentially any sub with over 1k members should be regarded with caution and anything over 10k probably isn't worth your time. I'd sooner trust 4chan (in the same way I'd sooner leave a baby with a cheetah than a leopard).

  17. Fazal Majid

    An obvious tell

    Is sites with affiliate links. Penalize them and you’ve killed the profit motive behind those “content” farms.

  18. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    True or False? What’s Your Future Choice to Be Virtually Realised for You?

    Google promises to adjust search algorithm to favor 'people-first content'

    The very fact that Google [and therefore any other search engine too] can so adjust the search algorithm to provide a very specific direction of travel and product is easily used/misused/abused as a politically adept brain-washing/perceptions management tool.

    And to not think nor realise that such is exactly how such are being so employed has one being recognised as a useful fool for exploitation and systems experimentation.

    It is how humans are remotely commanded and virtually controlled by both a selfish moneyed elite and an astute almost almighty self chosen few with both of them imagining themselves far beyond and way above any chance or form of practical retribution and punitive accountability.

    What's the betting that fantastic belief is now long gone as an available viable reality to be replaced as a disgraceful and self-destructive delusion of past grand-standing grandeur which arrogant and ignorant media and failed intelligence services have been clearly complicit in and guilty of supporting?

    Or do you prefer to deny that current times and present spaces have so fundamentally changed as to render all recent traditional and conventional status quo methodologies/memes/schemes now subject to extensive comprehensive reappraisal and vital core adjustment.

    If that be the case, what comes next is going to be a real surprise which your sanity might struggle to handle well enough for you to enjoy as you should if only you could believe it to be true rather than keep telling yourself it isn't.

    And the actions/reactions from all presently engaged failed and continually failing New World Order status quo systems administrations to future novel ACTive communications will decide their worthy dismal fate or laud their Astute IntelAIgent Destiny.

    What's it to be for you? ... A glass half full or a glass empty? ..... A brand new exciting future experiment or a deranged and dangerous past based experience?

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: True or False? What’s Your Future Choice to Be Virtually Realised for You?

      And if you think all of that is too fantastically far fetched to be possible, and therefore very likely currently improbable, does the following tale seem most likely ....... UN Recruited Over 100,000 'Digital First Responders' To Push Establishment COVID Narrative .... and give valid enough reason for you to rethink your initial negative opinion and agree with the alterable search engine algorithm remote perceptions management/brain washing enterprise premise?

      Such enterprises/exercises though have an abiding and extremely revealing Achilles Heel against which there is no possible guaranteed nor even vaguely reliable defence against almightily destructive and/or disruptive forces and sources, and that is always the non-appearance of intelligence and information in space and places to which they were sent and which one would have reasonably expected them to freely appear and be commented on/peer reviewed.

      Deeper exploration and experimentation down those dank rank and dark rabbit holes reveal all manner of catastrophic exploits to taste and temper/savour and favour and flavour with due diligent endeavouring engagement aka ....... well, remote alien lead would be a surreal proposal far too stealthy for all but a carefully chosen few to admit indisputable and well worth encouragement and support rather than sustained general universal denial and vainglorious doom-laden opposition.

      1. First Light Silver badge

        Re: True or False? What’s Your Future Choice to Be Virtually Realised for You?

        You've really outdone yourself this time.

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: True or False? What’s Your Future Choice to Be Virtually Realised for You?

          You've really outdone yourself this time. .... First Light

          Thanks, First Light. It is incredibly rewarding to realise one's sterling modified Stirling engined efforts are much appreciated rather than, as can be an oft fate of late in so many new fields of novel vitalising strategic communication, them being comprehensively misunderstood and/or rightly feared to be something else altogether quite different and decidedly designedly unpleasant if unworthy corrupt competition or perverse spirited opposition be either suspected as possible and in the planning or practically encountered in contested leading fields of universal influence/Earthly global command and control of upcoming far distant and remote near future events.

          Such is certainly agreeable encouraging, but have neither fear nor doubt, it is not necessarily vital to ensure continued rapid and rabid progress in environments particularly and peculiarly heavily infected and affected and effected. It is a very much considered to be a very welcome and unexpected bonus with the power to aid progress beyond even the most optimistic of initial expectations.

  19. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Maybe if everyone typed...

    Alta Vista into the Search Box they might get the message.

    Bring back Alta Vista, as it was originally, none of that yahoo nonsense.

  20. Tron Silver badge

    Google is a pale shadow of what it was.

    Google Search has been getting worse for years. Heavily censored, we used to be able to click through all of the results it harvested. Now we are limited to a couple of pages of stuff we didn't actually search for. I search for a lot of stuff that uses archaic spelling, foreign content and academic stuff. Google Search appears to 'correct' my requests to what it thinks I should be looking for and returns a few pages of contemporary pop culture links, mostly for stuff to buy. It's rubbish.

    We need something that works like Google Search did in year 1, preferably a distributed service capable of running persistent searches that are refined by multiple contexts.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Google is a pale shadow of what it was.

      The master plan, even as crazy as it sounds, appears to be ensuring the great unwashed don't learn too much about what concerns them, Tron, lest they discover who is responsible for their conditioning and positioning/state of existence.

      The system can't have smarter folk uncovering the true nature of their virtual reality and the methodologies which command and controllers abuse to guarantee them full arrogant advantage of terrestrial ignorance ..... for there would be all hell to pay and mammoth scores to settle with many quite lucky to not survive long whenever worthy of mob attention/just retribution.

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Google is a pale shadow of what it was.

      Google Search has been getting worse for years. Heavily censored, we used to be able to click through all of the results it harvested.

      Sounds like the censorship is going to get worse..

      Sullivan earlier this year contributed to that effort by pointing out a study that found Google's rival Bing is worse when it comes to misinformation.

      Who, or what is going to decide what 'misinformation' is? Is this where Brian Stelter's heading, to lead google's 'reliable sources' function? A search engine shouldn't be editorialising, especially when many things have become highly politicised and we're living in a cancel culture. Or you're specifically looking for 'misinformation' to try and get a balanced view of a particular controversy.

      Not sure what the solution is, other than more education to spot when imformation is being intentionally manipulated to intentionally misinform you. So Stelter had some.. interesting positions wrt the Biden laptop that showed he, and his sources weren't entirely reliable. Or the whole Covid fiasco, where information was declared misinformation waaay before any actual facts could be established/verified. So effectiveness or otherwise of taking 'horse pills'.

      Perhaps there's a way to display how (or who) has manipulated results, add some kind of impact rating, or just allow users to peform a 'raw' or conspiracy-mode search. But it would be a tad complicated, eg-

      'Is the Earth flat'

      Should produce 'no' results. Then again, a 'reliable' summary link to a controversy page could be entertaining. I've seen a few fun papers and videos that show the lengths flat-earthers go to to convince themselves they're right. Or more seriously, Jane Lubchenco-

      The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has barred a member, Jane Lubchenco, a White House official and former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, from receiving NAS honors and working on publications or programs for the academy or the National Research Council. NAS imposed the sanctions, which will last 5 years and were first reported yesterday by Axios, on 8 August, after the academy concluded Lubchenco violated its code of conduct when she agreed to edit a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on which her brother-in-law, who was also a former Ph.D. student of hers, was an author.

      Especially given controversy around her chosen field-

      “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin [Trenberth] and I will keep them out somehow, even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!” [Phil Jones, July 8, 2004]

      Gatekeeping functions are kinda important in maintaining and protecting certain narratives..

  21. Winkypop Silver badge

    The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be

    Don’t mind the quality,

    Feel the width!

  22. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    "People first content"

    Yeah, that's gonna help. The only thing worse than three pages of mostly irrelevant search results is three pages of search results that all point to droning, amateurish videos on YouTube, and a single link to the obligatory Wikipedia article. Ah, well, time to teach my muscle memory to use Brave search instead of always typing

  23. Jan K.

    Dropped google years ago, nothing but ads...

    Bing? The thing answering what was not asked for? A joke...

    Went to duckduckgo and so far quite good.

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