ZYRA //// Search Engines //// Zyra's Site Index

Problems with Search Engines

There is a fundamental problem with search engines, not just a Google problem or a problem with Google, but a problem with all search engines. The trouble (which is explained here) may eventually lead to The End for search engines. Then what would we do? (This is also explained here). Also see list of search engines.

Here's the problem of search engines explained:

If you were a search engine, you'd probably think of some kind of system for listing relevant results. This, "the algorithm" is some form of rationale for the way you list your search results. The aim is surely to list mainly interesting websites full of useful content and worthwhile information, and to try to avoid listing sites which are just unscrupulous attempts to sell on the "spam based" model. The problem is that sooner or later, the people running spam-based websites will suss out your algorithm and will figure out a way to get their sites listed at the top by cheating.

The problem can be illustrated by this strange parallel:

Suppose you were a psychic who could predict the future perfectly, there would be some things you could not predict. Suppose a sceptic challenged you to predict whether the electric light would be on or off in ten seconds' time, it would not matter whether you said "on" or "off" as the sceptic would simply switch the lamp off/on to make your prediction wrong.

In the same way, whatever clever algorithm is devised by the people running the search engines, the spam promoters will work out what the method is, and will end up getting their sites at the top of the list regardless of what the customers are searching for.

What's happened about this?

Well for a start, Google have reshuffled their algorithm and kept it partly secret how it's done. This means that it's not quite so easy for "search engine optimisation" and that kind of nonsense to always win. However, in the adjustment of search engine algorithms, various naff decisions have been made, the nature of which we are unaware, and so even though this website has thousands of pages of interesting content it is looking like it's all to no avail as it's being prejudiced against for some arbitrary reason(s). There's a war going on and we have been caught in the crossfire. They've used dynamite on the fish and ended up damaging the dolphins.

Also see the nonsense of Google Updates

What can we do about it?

One idea is to just give up. The bad guys always win. Just leave the Internet to the sharks. However, my instinct is to eat the sharks instead. Even if search engines become extinct because of becoming unusable, or if search engines become puppets under the thumb of evil governments, there may still be a solution.

The Solution:

Whilst I'm not calling for a boycott of search engines, I think we should not be dependent on them. So, before the bizarre unfathomable prejudice of search engines puts us out of business, bookmark this site and tell your friends! Make sure that even if search engines ban this website, you can still find it! (In Mozilla Firefox, you can do this by pressing ctrl-D).

Also, if you've got a website, then put a link in to this website (see how to do this), AND, put deep links in to various pages within this site. If enough people do this it will become increasingly difficult for us to be destroyed by search engine misfortune. Also if all those of us who have been alienated by search engine prejudice link to each-other, we will still be around and still have visitors even if search engines go out of business.

Here's what I used to say in 2004: "To the credit of Google, they have not fallen for the overcommercialisation which some companies have. However, there are "market forces" which we must be careful to avoid. Look what a disaster e-mail became: SPAM".

Update: Now in 2012, Google has fallen from grace and become a big problem. It's the Google problem and has the nonsense of Google Updates. A shame it's gone that way.

News 2004/01: There was an interim solution advocated by Google, namely to report cheating and malpractice. See How to Report Search Engine Cheating. Note 2012: This is historical. You can't report cheating anymore. It's become a system of "justice" like the Spanish Inquisition.

Update: Now in 2012, I say Stuff Google! After the fiasco of Google Updates, Google has alienated people. A shame. They've alienated webmasters, and displeased folks who do searches because now the search results which used to be good, are rubbish.

Some people are saying "Google has become rubbish because they are only interested in the money now". Well, no. If they were interested in the money they'd offer a good service. But they don't anymore; it's all short-termist stuff. I think it's very sad.