Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Google Blog Search doesn't do its job properly

Being the kind of fangirl I am, I have an RSS feed of Google News and Google Blog Search results for "Izzard" in my feed reader, so I get any new articles.

And, as you might have noticed, I also have a blog, where I've mentioned Eddie Izzard in a couple of different posts during the course of my current fandom high. (I really should start blogging about something else, shouldn't I?) But my own posts have never turned up in my feed reader!  (And my feed reader uses a completely separate log-in identity from my blog, so it would have no way to know not to feed me those because I wrote them.)

So I did some searching:

Here is a regular Google search for blogspot posts containing "Izzard" made within the past week, sorted by relevance.

Here is a Google Blog Search for posts containing "Izzard" made within the past week, sorted by relevance.

There are far more posts in the regular Google search than in the Google Blog Search, even though blogspot is just a subset of blogs!

So then I did a regular Google search for Wordpress posts within the past week, sorted by relevance, and it also contains some quality posts that didn't show up in the Google Blog Search.

Same with Typepad, LiveJournal and even Tumblr.  Most of the posts turned up aren't quality, but at the moment, there's at least one quality post (i.e. tour performance reviews or other things I'm interested in reading) in the first page of results for each of these blogging platforms that doesn't show up in Google Blog Search results!  Even if Google curates its blog search out of necessity, there are things in there that should have made it into the results.

I want to be clear, I'm not complaining because Google Blog Search isn't turning up my blog.  (Objectively, it's better if it doesn't turn up my Eddie Izzard posts because they're all fangirling rather than informative content.)  I'm complaining because Google Blog Search isn't turning up other people's blog posts that I would have liked to read.

How long has this being going on for?  And how many other, more important, searches does this also affect?

In my post speculating whether Web 2.0 makes information less accessible, I wrote:

When Eddie Izzard first started his last US tour in 2008, I could do a google blog search the day after each show and find multiple reviews of each gig, or at least what he was wearing and which wikipedia entry he looked up. By the time he got to Canada in 2010, internet trends had moved away from blogs more towards Facebook and Twitter, so you couldn't necessarily find comments on any given show. They were all buried in people's Facebook walls, ungoogleable to the outside world. Not the most important thing in the world, obviously, but it was information I was looking for and could no longer find.

What if, all this time, the blog reviews I'm looking for have in fact been out there, but Google has made them less searchable or less findable?

It's kind of scary, the extent to which Google can influence our concept of what does and doesn't actually exist.  But, at the same time, no other search engine finds stuff as well as Google.  I just don't know if we can trust it to confirm or refute existence...


laura k said...

It's kind of scary, the extent to which Google can influence our concept of what does and doesn't actually exist.

It really is, especially when we consider that marketing types say that internet users don't go past the first page of results.

I gave up on Google Blog Search for the same reasons. Could it be that only blogs that buy Google Adwords show up?

impudent strumpet said...

The tricky thing about the first page of results is it so often works, especially when you're looking for something with a singular correct answer. (e.g. What time is it in New Zealand? Who's that guy in that movie? What time is this store open?) Unless you're looking for all available information on the subject or for a comprehensive well-rounded answer, there's nothing gained by reading multiple results. And I've discovered that the vast majority of things I search for, I'm not looking for a comprehensive, well-rounded answer.

But, at the same time, that doesn't negate the fact that all the information should be there in case people need or want it.

laura k said...

It's true, if I'm looking for a quick one-off answer, it's usually in the very first result. But if you want to read something really good on a topic, it might be anywhere... which is where Google Blog Search should come in, but fails.

impudent strumpet said...

And then, just to complicate things, there are situations like in my post below (how much money Eddie Izzard raised) that absolutely should be quick one-off answers, but the first google result is wrong (in this case because it's obsolete).