Why Search Sucks

I just read Scoble’s post on search engine imperfection. Dude, where have
you been? Search engines suck, they always have sucked, they still suck
and they always will suck. The day they don’t suck, well, that’s the day
I won’t need to search any more.

I’ll explain.

First, you have the tremendous disconnect between what a person actually
wants, and their knowledge of how to frame that request using written
language. Folks lie to themselves about things far more important than
search engine terms, so there’s no surprise that they may not be typing
what they’re actually looking for. On top of that they’re learning,
mostly by trial and error, what works for them and are adjusting their
efforts.

Second, you have web page design evolving on a minute-by-minute basis,
with designers focusing on design, usability, search engine
optimization, and for most of these things the only really reliable
teacher is trial and error. And we expect all of this to make pages easy
to index? You commented on flash, as a guy who scrapes flash sites
frequently I can attest to how useless flash is from a research
perspective. But would the Rolex site really be a Rolex site without it?
Even so, some of the most useful content was posted for an entirely
different purpose than you, the searcher, are going to use it for, which
makes it much harder to figure out what to look for.

Third, you have the search engine people who are constantly changing how
their systems work, partially to make them better, partially to keep
people from gaming the system, and partially for the heck of it. The
catch-22 of allowing people to understand how their site interacts with
the SE allows folks to screw the SE by gaming the system will keep
search from becoming as effective as it could be. And of course the SE
people are probably adjusting to the user’s changing techniques as well.

Three key elements all changing in response to each other, all at
different rates and for different reasons. Search isn’t going to be
perfect ever.

If it was, it means that the users and websites aren’t changing…

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