consist3ntly inconsistEnt

Search is in a Pretty Bad Shape

No question, the web and search in particular have learned a lot of new tricks over years. It can do more things faster. – And it even comes with me (as long as it is not the U-Bahn in Berlin).

Unfortunately its nature has changed as well, which is most visible when looking at search these days.

A search result today is focused on offering services.

Ads on top of the page, a few high ranking mega optimized professional services as organic results and at the bottom of the page: more ads.

Roughly 2/3 of the sceen space is occupied by someone who paid for jumping in to my eye. – Not because my search engine of ‘choice’ thinks this might be relevant to my query.

But even if you put the commercialization of the search result page aside for a moment, the organic results are just as narrow focussed as the commercial ones.

An Example

Looking at a topic I’m definitely interested in: sailing.

an example search result page

Ads (9!) and commercial offerings. That’s it mainly.

Where have all the private pages gone? The blogs?

Blogs? Well, that should be easy: Blog + query and there you go. Well, here they come: SEO optimized blogs whose main purpose is boosting the visibility of the commercial offerings you were finding in the first place. 😵

Interesting views? An independent website? Even editorial articles are rarely to be found. And non commercial pages are often outdated or have been abandoned altogether.

It seems that content discovery has completely moved to social and has dried out search.

On the one hand I should say that’s fair enough. Truth is, it reflects my own behavior pretty good as well.

But two aspects leave me doubting if this is really working well for us, or if we are maybe accepting to live in a web that is getting smaller and smaller every day:

And even more, stumbling upon something I wouldn’t even know that I was looking for, can rarely happen these days – and search is definitely not a good starting point for this anymore.


My world has definitely gotten smaller. The range of undiscovered stuff I am able find on the internet has narrowed dramatically. And so the question is: what can we do about this? Or if no one else cares, what could I do?

Search somehow differently? Use link directories like

Browsing Wikipedia and following the sources usually works pretty good. That way I’ve found the NYT article about echo chambers above. I should maybe start refering to Wikipedia as a search engine with additional context.