SERPs : What is wrong with Google serps results?

by humagaia

Google SERPs are archaic. Google knows there is a problem with their SERPs. Integrating Google+ etc. to address the issue is a start. But how can they change results to suit us?

Google is a monolith.

In it's quest for ever increasing profits it has expanded into a myriad of related and relevant business functions.

But what was Google to begin with?

What is Google to the majority of seasoned (around the Internet for more than a few years) searchers?

Google is a search engine to us.

But times change.

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What is the relevance of Google to search?

Times have changed for search engines, from static to dynamic. Social networking, blogging, micro-blogging, mobile-connected, iPad- or iPod-ready internet-savvy web audiences now need instant news and information to feed their habit. And they can get it. Elsewhere.

I have no gripe with the Google homepage (for whatever country or language) being minimalistic. I have no issue with it changing, seemingly on an ever increasing basis, as Google tries to stem the haemorrhaging of it's user-base. But why make cosmetic changes to something that is not broken? 

It is not how you present yourself on your homepage, Google, that is the problem. The problem is that you are not linking me to the sources of information that I need. Think! What is fundamental to all that you offer your loyal subjects? Access to information. For what? Research. And what does research need? Relevant, current information.

And what do you give me, most of the time? What you consider to be relevant information, that is oft times out-of-date. It's just not good enough! You are becoming irrelevant to my (our) search needs!

Google serps
Google serps

The mutterings of discontent.

I am sure most of us have read (and that Google is aware of) increasing chitter-chat about discontent with the search engine results Google presents as the most relevant for any entered search parameters. And it is well-founded.

You can see the type of discontent at blogs like that at ukserps. From there you can see that Google staff listen, and adjust them, when irrelevant results are found. But the malcontent's are beginning to outnumber those that are happy with the service they receive from Google. It is time to assuage their grievances.

A few examples of the type of irrelevance we find on the first page of serps, may be apposite here:

  • Links to information that is obviously out of date and of no significance any more (and Google even shows the date) - why would I be interested in a news item from 2003, for instance?
  • News, Videos, Pictures integrated into the search results (when there are a number of links to the specialised search entry pages for said). If I wanted these I would have gone to the specific search sections.
  • Site-links that take up all of the space above the fold in the serps, and have no relevance to my query.
  • Arrows pointing to the white-space at the right of the serps, where a picture of the webpage appears when I mouse over. I can think of much better uses for the technology and the space (see chapter below).
  • Relevance according to the spurious notion that links from other websites is a measure of that relevance. All this means is that the oldest, most capable (with the most money and personnel) web resources, and those that can ch/beat the algorithm, are shown highest in the results. Not those that are actually most relevant.

We are (or I think we are) all aware how difficult it is to create a semantic search but that is the nub of the matter. Only the person entering the search knows exactly what they are looking for. Why not give as much chance to the searcher to determine what is relevant to their search requirement.

Out of date results

out of date results
out of date results

News in SERPs

News in Serps
News in Serps

Site-links in SERPs

site-links in serps
site-links in serps

Mouse-over info pages

mouse-over info
mouse-over info

Relevance of Google SERPS

relevance of serps results
relevance of serps results

In my case I want recent information, not what has been around for years. I want information with some body, fleshed out, not link lists that add nothing to my quest for information. I want relevance but do not adhere to your (Googles) idea of relevance.

Basically clear out the old - bring in the new.

What should Google do to their SERPs to make them more relevant?

What should Google do to their SERPs to make them more relevant?

My view is that Google should:


Wordle: Google SERPS - making them relevant to us

  • keep the layout format as is
  • remove site-links
  • remove news, videos and pictures
  • do not integrate Google+ into the main results
  • add a parameter into the relevance algorithm to expedite those results that are out-of-date
  • only show those results that are ACTUALLY relevant not relevant by proxy
  • use the mouse-over buttons to show further relevant items, associated with that particular site (as in 'more from sites like this'), in the right-hand white-space such as:
  1. related Wikipedia articles
  2. videos and/or pictures
  3. news items on the subject (up to date please)
  4. latest Twitter, Google+ (or relevant microblog for other countries) entries
  5. latest RSS items for the search criteria (category)
  6. latest information, related to newness (rather than the current relevance, calculated by age and link density)
  7. show items relevant to the query in other languages
There is enough room on the button for it to be divided into 5 or more separate buttons for each of the 10 entries in the serps. The white-space could be utilised in it's entirety for the related entries (top or latest 10 would suffice, as we normally only ever follow the links on the first page of results).


How would this help us - Google's audience?

I don't know about you (let me know below, in the comments) but it would help me in the following ways:

Wordle: Googles audience

  1. More relevant results on the first page
  2. Access to the latest news items (should I want them) without cluttering up the other results
  3. Same for videos/pictures
  4. We all know Wikipedia will show in the top results so why not give them a separate button so we can check all relevant results from there in one go
  5. If I want the buzz about something then giving access to the latest twitterings or +es would aid greatly in my quest for that buzz.
  6. A latest RSS would also feed my habit. Surely it cannot be beyond the boffins at Google to come up with an OPML feed, made up from the major RSS feed aggregators.
  7. Relevance according to recency, rather than age and link quantity, would also be of assistance in keeping up-to-date.
  8. Removal of the site-links will give better relevance (the chances are I do not want any of the sections that have been extracted to be included in the site-links).
  9. Access to a list of relevant sites written in an alternative language (translated to my language) would be better placed here than having to do a specialised search for them.
  10. I get to choose what is relevant to me for my search. I am the best semantic relevance determinator (if that is a word), I am human (or so I am led to believe).

In my view Google serps would be much better if these types of changes were implemented.

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Updated: 02/05/2021, humagaia
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Seelyon on 06/21/2015

Great summary of SERPs, it's been interesting seeing the introduction of more personalisation over the years

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