This is Why Google Search is Bad and What Engine to Use in 2022
Do you think Google sucks? I’m not a big friend of Google either.
These are my personal preferences though. I won’t deal with them here.
This post is not about ideology. It’s purely practical.
This time I reflect on how bad the Google search engine performs by 2022.
To solve the problem I will suggest a better alternative or more than one.
Before we start: take note though: I do not hate Google. I just criticize them.
That’s a big difference. Constructive criticism is actually helpful.
Google Search Does not Work As Expected
There is one straightforward reason why I prefer not to use Google Search though whenever possible.
When you search for something you expect to see actual search results don’t you?
The Google search experience is bad!
It’s not even search anymore. It’s Google Ads.
Google does not show real organic search results above the fold! What fold?
That is in the visible part of the search engine results pages (SERPs).
It’s a metaphor from the newspaper era. They folded in half.
For lucrative keywords Google displays just ads on top.
Don’t believe me? Have you been looking for hotels recently?
Just search for [hotels] on Google.com – This is what I get (searching in English from the US by using Proton VPN) and why I consider it bad:
Can you spot even one real unpaid or so called “organic” result? Take note that I use a clean browser here with no toolbars, only a bookmark bar.
I am not using a tablet or something with a small screen. I’m not even using a standard sized 15,6′ laptop screen. It’s a 17,3′ notebook!
OK, so Google is not a real search engine anymore. It does not work as expected.
What is it then? It’s a dynamic portal worse than Yahoo has ever been.
Most “results” are either ads or Google’s own properties.
In this case we see Google’s proprietary hotel booking tool below the adverts.
How Can You Actually Search the Web in 2022?
What can you use instead to search for real? The best alternative right now in 2022 is Neeva [partner link].
You probably never heard of Neeva. They just started. It’s a new private and completely ad free search engine.
It’s so new, it only went live in 2021. Yet the results were excellent from day one.
Most importantly they were actual results on top you can see without scrolling!
When you search for hotels there are hotels on top that haven’t paid to be shown there:
It’s Hotels.com on top as expected and then actual local hotels from the area I searched from appear below a map in a neat list.
You may wonder why I “partnered” with Neeva. I do not get paid by them. I only get to use Neeva for free for a month when you sign up using my link.
As I don’t live in the US and it does not support searching from Germany yet it does not make sense for me to pay for it.
That’s the only catch. Neeva needs money to run the show and because they don’t sell your data and attention to advertisers they need to make you pay.
The good thing is: Neeva is affordable. It’s less than $5 per month (after a 4 months free trial).
When you count the time you wasted on scrolling and looking at ads you actually save money.
I like to plant trees to keep climate change at bay and thus I am even more likely to click ads.
In the case of the [hotels] search there weren’t many though. I disabled all ad blockers and privacy tools to make sure I can see them:
Hooray! What do we see? We recognize two relevant search results for [hotels] without trying hard: Hotels.com and Expedia. Then we’ll notice a Wikipedia entry on the right side. It’s Hotels.com again.
These results are real results determined by site authority and incoming links. The more people recommend those sites the higher they are in the results.
Are You Still Scrolling or Already Searching?
I could go on explaining why the above Google “results” are bad and the Neeva or Ecosia results are better but IMHO it’s obvious.
Back then Google had real results in the visible area. Ask.com had the most ads but still fewer than Google now and where is Ask now?
A more current report from BrightEdge shows how wide-spread the “ads-only above the fold” issue was in 2016.
My advice for all those who have no stake in Google: Let’s move on to a real search engine. Why have to sift through numerous ads to see actual results dozens of times a day?
Don’t waste your time scrolling. Start searching!
Ecosia uses mostly Bing results so that the technology behind the results is also state of the art while the environmental business model and the much cleaner interface are additional benefits.
In some cases – for so called “long tail” searches of three or more words Google can yield better results than Bing and with it Ecosia.
Startpage is the best solution then – it offers Google results without the
- filter bubble
- visual clutter.
It’s not as good for the planet as Ecosia though.
I haven’t tested Neeva often enough to tell whether their results outperform Google, Startpage, Ecosia and DuckDuckGo but the searches I did returned very helpful results.
Neeva has its own index! Thus it does not use Google or Bing results like Startpage, Ecosia or DuckDuckGo. That’s probably the most important reason to try it!
Google Search Quality
As I rank on top of Google for queries like [google is bad] many people come here to complain about the overall Google search quality in my comment section.
I assure you that once you find the actual search results below a huge pile of ads and Google owned services or features they are still very good.
Google excels especially when searching for so called “long tail” queries with 3, 4 or more words.
Google has problems with “bigger” or more popular keywords!
Why? It’s because they show not the
- most popular
pages but instead the
- most current ones.
Thus an article from 2022 may outrank a much better post from 2017 mainly because it’s 5 years younger.
Often the best results are those that have aged for a few years like good wine. Yet Google prefers “fresh content”.
One way to deal with this is to constantly update your content. I do that and that’s why I keep on ranking with some pages for a decade.
- When you are looking for the latest inside scoop on technology, politics or gossip – you might want to use Google.
- When you are looking for some weird sentence long questions also ask Google.
- For timeless and evergreen searches Ecosia or DuckDuckGo are often better as they both use Bing results.
To overcome the problem of hidden organic results below the fold you can use Startpage which is based on Google results.
You can also use a tool called Simple Search by The Markup that simply gets rid of all the clutter above Google search results and just shows the actual results in an overlay.
Most people do not even realize that what they see on top of Google are ads. In case you are one of them just make sure to view and click the proper results.
What search engine do you use and recommend in 2022? Do you still use Google? Why? Why not? Did you try Neeva? Please respond below!