Remember when you could actually FIND stuff on Google?

Anybody else remember when you could actually FIND stuff with search engines?

I mean, you could actually go to Google or AltaVista and query "this exact text, including punctuation" and it would return a list of web pages that included that exact phrase. It was magical. It was why we started calling these things "Search Engines" instead of webpages.

Remember how it was impossible to search for anything about PHP? Every query started returning whatever.php3 as a match. I always found it odd, because "php" is obviously not a word so why match it the same way you might match "this exact text, including punctuation"? But it was ok, because only geeks needed to actually search for PHP information (and geeks knew how to find it anyway). If that was the price to pay for a good search engine, no problem.

And then things changed. Yes, for a while you could put the string into quotes, but that didn't last. Right around the time Google claimed billions of pages indexed, as I recall, we lost a lot of functionality. Go figure. Search for "this exact text, including punctuation" and of course you actually wanted "this exact piece of text we published, including punctuation". Right? Sure I did. Not.

I guess Google went over the Hilltop. Honestly, I don't give a rats arse how many people publish anchor text matching "this exact text, including punctuation", or title their pages with it. I want pages that actually contain it, verbatim, with enough snippet to evaluate the context from the SERP.

Is that so much to ask? Indexing 101. Hey Google, how about a flag for "no hilltop" so when I want to, I can exact match? A real exact match?

Comments

now there's a RELEVANT response

Quote:
Yes, please. That would be interesting to see. I may not be checking back here often so please post it to your blog and link to me at my blog http://www.johnon.com so I'll know you posted and can read it. Thanks.

Lol at JAs fishing expedition...

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It was soon after the "Florida" update that I found I had to change my search behaviour when using G to find specific information

Yep, that's when they started giving prominence to information as opposed to commerical. It's very hard to find good commercial stuff these days in the organic listings. Well you can, it's just buried.

It was soon after the

It was soon after the "Florida" update that I found I had to change my search behaviour when using G to find specific information and it seems to have deteriated a bit since then. I find myself using more and more "plus this" and "minus that" operators to try to nail things down. Wading through dupe content and subdomain spam is sometimes a headache.

And why -- Why? -- is G indexing RSS feeds without marking them as such? It's just a waste of my time.

As always though, none of

As always though, none of the other engines are any better

We have a different situation over here in Russia. Yandex (60-65% marketshare) produces more relevent results - which may explain why Google has made so little impact here to date (17%). They definitely have the focus on results that Google used to back in the day.

/matt baiting ;)

I would love to know how a

I would love to know how a comparison of results with the existing algorithm compare with ones used 2 or 3 years ago across competitive and longtail keywords. Phrase matching has especially suffered. It would be too easy to believe the older algos would provide a generally more relevant set of results in most cases. :)

John, is the highlighting

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John, is the highlighting throwing you off? Because the highlighting doesn't affect the results that are returned, it just tries to highlight helpful parts of the snippet to give you a clue that a result is relevant. If you want to give any examples, I'd be happy to pass them on.

Yes, please. That would be interesting to see. I may not be checking back here often so please post it to your blog and link to me at my blog http://www.johnon.com so I'll know you posted and can read it. Thanks.

The general public dont seem

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The general public dont seem to complain much.

Google still puts up competitive results. They've just lost the superiority they had in the search game. The public just searches the engine that is most convenient or most popular.

Funny though....

The general public dont seem to complain much.
And by the way brown ale should be at #1 on a search for Newcastle not #3

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I searched on Newcastle and the brown ale came up as the #3 site.

Sounds about what I'd want to show up if I were searching for Newcastle! :)

Newcastle

Yup, Google's messed up.

I searched on Newcastle and the brown ale came up as the #3 site.

Totally mucked up.

Nothing better though...

As always though, none of the other engines are any better. So it's still Google's game to lose.

John's Right

The Google SERPs stink these days. Yawn, laugh it off, whatever, but assuming that Google isn't serving up scraper pages on purpose so they can make more money as people click desperately on ads in hopes of finding something relevant, it could end up being a problem for them. Yeah, I know that they own the space and can't possibly lose it, but boy would I love a chance to spend some time with a challenger that cares more about search results than about becoming the new Hollywood. Fortunately for Google, as long the best the market serves up is lame stuff like ChaCha, they will be able to keep serving up off point results for years to come.

LOLz

But yeah.....

Back in my day, searching

"Back in my day, searching the internet had to be done by hand with Archie! We used to email ftp sessions to BITNET, and get the reply back an hour later! And if even one character was wrong, you wouldn't get your ASCII art picture correctly, and you'd have to start all over again. We had to make our punched cards by hand! And if you left a C or an * in column 1, the compiler would assume that was a comment line and ignore it!

Kids these days. Got more memory in their cell phones than we had in our whole Sinclair computers! And we had to build those from kits! You think if kids had to build their own cell phones chip by chip that they'd waste that time a-yakking?

And the bandwidth! My Commodore 64 had a 300 baud modem and I was grateful! Sure, I could type faster than it could transmit, but that's how we learned patience. Back then, every child knew assembly. Sure, it was 6502 assembly, but at least it was machine code! Nowadays, youngsters pop out a web site with some Ruby on Rails and they think they know how to program!?! Let me tell you something, you ain't a real programmer until you've had to eke out extra memory at C000. That's 49152 for you younguns."

John, is the highlighting throwing you off? Because the highlighting doesn't affect the results that are returned, it just tries to highlight helpful parts of the snippet to give you a clue that a result is relevant. If you want to give any examples, I'd be happy to pass them on.

Punctuation

Yep, I agree once you start throwing punctuation in it gets "funny". For example compare

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom,

with

It was the best of times it was the worst of times it was the age of wisdom

and

""it was the best of times it was the worst of times it was the age of wisdom it was the age of foolishness"

Sure the answers are ok but it's interesting how the SERP's are different considering both pages include punctuation.

Awww now, shoemoney Wakey

Awww now, shoemoney

Wakey Wakey

Surely you must be able to spot a link bait opportunity in this subject?
:)

*yawn*

*yawn*

Try a search for Newcastle

Try a search for Newcastle Airport on Google UK then Yahoo UK.

On Yahoo UK the right result is number 1. On Google it's nowhere to be seen!

Ode to search engines i.e., Google

Search engine, search Engine fell on your head.
Search engine, search Engine soon you’ll be dead.
All of those bad serps from spammin’ and stuff
Search engine, search Engine when is enough?
Search engine, search Engine why all the ads?
Search engine, search Engine you’re time is in fads.

To be honest, I haven't

To be honest, I haven't followed much of the changes on Google like I used to. My focus has been on other areas. But I do agree, Google results are really bad these days. I've found myself using Yahoo! a lot more recently when I search for anything that may be slightly competitive.

I don't know if it's bad crawling, over filtering, or just a bad algorithm. I ran a search for something competitive the other day and literally 70 of the top 100 results were a GoDaddy parked page that happened to link to their profitible keywords (you've seen the url.com/?q=keyword I'm sure). It's just amazing that with all these changes they make, they still haven't figured out the parked PPC page of the largest domain registrar on the planet. It's become like MSN search where you find a few good results, and a few that will make you laugh.

I really don't care if they change it or not. Much of the stuff I complain about has little to no effect on me. But I have to admit that I've switched more and more to Yahoo! of late and their Google's results are the worst that I can remember.