Why Tweet Comparing Google to Dying Mall Went Viral

A tweet that Google no longer delivers helpful results struck a nerve with others who felt likewise, causing it to go viral. The tweet received over 42,000 likes and nearly 6,000 retweets from others who are unsatisfied with Google.

The tweet compared Google to decrepit shopping malls where you can’t get “what you came for.”

The person tweeted:

Others Felt the Same Way About Google

May others on Twitter felt the same way, perhaps explaining why the tweet went viral.

Some felt Google has recently become worse:

Some People Are Happy With Google

Not all the responses were from people who were displeased by Google:

But those expressing contentment with Google’s SERPs were overwhelmingly the outliers.

Most of the responses agreed with the original tweet, receiving over 42,000 likes, signaling that perhaps more people are unsatisfied with Google than are delighted by it.

Google Forcing Intent on SERPs

One of the trends in that discussion is that Google is forcing their interpretation of the search query.

But Google altering the intended meaning results in wrong answers.

This forces the user to try to reformulate their search query.

Those people complaining about this may not be imagining it.

A recent study by SEMRush discovered that almost 30% of search queries have to be reformulated.

The SEMRush study noted:

“There’s a great deal of keyword refinement at play here.

If we combine the number of Google clicks with the number of keyword changes, we see that almost 30% of people are either refining or extending their searches in some way.

…27.6% of searches eventually undergo some form of query refinement…”

Some of the forced intent can be explained by Google erroneously applying geolocation to the search query, interpreting a query as a local search.

The person who started the tweet also suggested that users should not be forced to use quotes or advanced search operators.

Many people on Twitter agreed that Google SERPs are forcing the wrong search query interpretation.

Poor Quality of Sites in Google’s SERPs

Another trend in the discussion spawned by the viral tweet is that the SERPs are polluted with scraped sites, bad recipe results that force users to scroll past useless content to get to the recipes and content that is generic and not helpful.

Scraped Sites in SERPs for Coding Queries

Bad Recipe Sites

SERPs were described as so unhelpful that the experience was compared to walking through weeds:

One of the saddest responses is that a sense of discovery is gone from Google:

Is that Google’s fault? Or is it the fault of the content that’s online?

Part of the blame could be Google because it long ago appears to have decided to de-prioritize content from forums, which are communities where real people talk about topics of interest.

SERPs Filled With Content But Not Human Insight

Google has never explicitly said that it de-prioritized ranking content from forums. But as a forum community manager and someone who knows others who manage forums, it certainly feels like Google has pulled back from ranking content generated from real people.

A common complaint is that Google tends to rank content but not insights from real people.

Some of the blame is thrown at the SEO industry for pumping out content written by writers but not necessarily experts.

There are tools today that scrape the SERPs and generate content briefs, outlines for writers to essentially rewrite content that is SEO optimized.

There’s an SEO theory called the Skyscraper strategy that promotes taking stock of competitor’s content and then researching the topic and rewriting it so that it’s ten times bigger and (hopefully) better.

Those tools and strategies encourage and help non-experts to write content and people are noticing.

The Perception that Google is Dysfunctional or Corrupted

Lastly there is the old complaint that Google is motivated to shove ads in users faces and is corrupted. This complaint has been around since Google started showing ads and increased after Google went public.

Whether it’s true or not, the perception that Google is corrupted continues to this day.

What Is Your Experience of Google?

Days before the viral tweet was published I tool felt discouraged by Google search and posted about it on my Facebook feed.

I wrote:

“I just had to reformulate my search query in Google several times. Google kept insisting I was searching for something else.

And then had to resort to adding negative searches in order to stop Google from insisting I was searching for something else and finally I thought this is just silly.

So I went to Bing and I found what I was looking for with one search.

This does not happen every single time I search. But it seems like I’m increasingly having to reformulate my searches because Google keeps insisting I’m looking for something else.”

Chuck Price (LinkedIn profile), an expert search marketer, responded to my Facebook post, writing:

“I’ve been experiencing this for a few months now. When I asked here on FB awhile back if people found themselves using Bing more often, it was a resounding no.

Old habits die hard, but you can’t rely on Google any longer for the “best” search results.

I frequently find myself referencing Bing and even Yandex when I need answers.”

In my experience Google seems fine and even able to provide amazing results for queries that resemble questions posed to a human.

For example, Google shows the correct response (Cemetry Gates by The Smiths) for the query “what is that song about friends meeting in a cemetery?”

What is your experience with Google lately?

Do you have to reformulate your queries?

How often are you forced to use quotes in order to force Google to show the right results?

Whatever the reality is about Google Search, it’s notable that a simple complaint about Google Search failing a user tapped into a nerve and caused the tweet to go viral.

Featured image by Shutterstock/Jihan Nafiaa Zahri

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