This is Why Google Search is Bad and What Engine to Use Instead

A dead tree symbolizing the bad Google search results that only show ads above the fold.

Do you think Google sucks? I’m not a big friend of Google search either.

In this post I reflect on how bad the Google search experience is nowadays.

To solve the problem I will suggest a better alternative or rather 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.

As an search engine optimizer for almost 20 years I know Google pretty well.

I hope my feedback helps improve Google or find alternatives for searchers.

Google Search Does not Work As Expected

There is one straightforward reason why I prefer not to use Google search.

When you search for something you expect to see actual search results don’t you?

The Google search experience is frustrating!

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.

(By 2023 they will sometimes also show auto-generated answers created by AI.)

Don’t believe me? Have you been looking for hotels recently?

Just search for [hotels] on – This is what I get (searching in English from the US by using Proton VPN) and why I consider it bad:

Google search results for [hotels]: You need to scroll to see any.

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” on top 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 2023?

What can you use instead to search for real? The best alternative right now in 2023 is Neeva [partner link].

You probably never heard of Neeva. 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. At least for me.

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:

Neeva search screen for hotels.

It’s 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.

Another viable option is Ecosia. You may also consider Startpage.

Ecosia shows ads above the search results too but far fewer of them and you even support reforestation efforts all over the world with 80% of the ad revenue when you click their ads.

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:

Ecosia search for hotels shows organic results above the fold.

Hooray! What do we see? We recognize two relevant search results for [hotels] without trying hard: and Expedia. Then we’ll notice a Wikipedia entry on the right side. It’s 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?

A misty forest full of very green trees symbolizing what happens when you use Ecosia.

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.

I do not even have to use colors to highlight like others did before me. Just compare it to the distant past of 2005.

Back then Google had real results in the visible area. 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

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

The search result for [seo 2.0] as seen using Simple Search by The Markup

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

  • best
  • most popular
  • authoritative

pages but instead the

  • latest
  • newest
  • 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.

You add it to your browser (Chrome or Firefox e.g) and every time you search Google you just get to see the real search results not those someone paid for to get shown on top.

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 2023? Do you still use Google? Why? Why not? Did you try Neeva? Please respond below!