Is Google Search Is Getting Worse? German Study Published Says Kinda

Jan 17, 2024 - 7:51 am 9 by
Filed Under Google

Decaying Exhausted Google Robot

A study released by the Leipzig University, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and ScaDS.AI in Germany asked if Google Search is getting worse. The 16 page paper, downloadable as a PDF over here says that Google has slightly improved in some areas but there is still a lot of spammy content within Google Search. This came via 404 Media, by the way.

The study manually reviewed the resulting queries and discarded near-duplicates and queries with artifacts or poor wording, resulting in a final list of 7,392 unique search queries. This was done across Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo. The study was done by scrapping the results every two weeks between October 26th, 2022, until September 19th, 2023. It focused on product reviews types of queries.

Here is a chart showing what it found:

German Google Study Grid

The two conclusions for Google specifically were:

(1) That higher-ranked pages are on average more optimized, more monetized with affiliate marketing, and they show signs of lower text quality.

(2) Google updates do target the spam, they wrote, "Google’s updates in particular are having a noticeable, yet mostly short-lived, effect. In fact, the Google results seem to have improved to some extent since the start of our experiment in terms of the amount of affiliate spam. Yet, we can still find several spam domains and also see an overall downwards trend in text quality in all three search engines, so there is still quite a lot of room for improvement."

I found this via Mashable. I am just not sure if the Mashable headline matches what the study says exactly?

Anyway, here is some of the early feedback on this:

Update: Google's Search Liason replied saying, "Yes, it did say the results got better, despite headlines out there saying the opposite. "Google results seem to have improved to some extent since the start of our experiment in terms of the amount of affiliate spam." Also, if you look at the big Figure 3 chart that shows the 50 most common domains (text says 30, but I count 50), there were two "spam" sites at the start of the study, as I count, and one at the end of it. The study also cuts off at Sept. 2023, so doesn't cover any of our updates after that. All that said, there's always room to improve. It's what we've been working hard at with our updates; it's what we'll continue to do."

Here are those responses:

Forum discussion at X.


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